SAN DIEGO, March 11, 2015 – It was the faceoff fans have waited five years to see.
American welterweight Floyd Mayweather (47-0-0, 26 KOs) and eight division champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (57-5-2, 38 KOs) stood nose to nose on the stage of the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, a place used to hosting big shows like the Emmys and MTV Movie Awards.
It was the one moment more than 600 credentialed members of the news media and the rest of the fans watching live coverage from home had pictured in their minds many times. The memes and Photoshopped images are no more; finally, it’s real.
Wednesday’s news conference, the only scheduled press event prior to the weigh-in, came complete with a red carpet, a forest of snapping cameras and celebrity-watching fans outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars. Many of them missed a surprise appearance by Justin Bieber, all in black with a hat and sunglasses on.
Inside the theater, there were few surprises. Staged news conferences are rarely about news. They are about well-scripted drama for the enjoyment of the fans.
But there are clues from the drama’s script giving us some understanding how the players intend to play their roles before they take the stage on May 2.
Manny Pacquiao plays the good guy, the gracious man of the people. His remarks focused on gratitude and glory to God. “The most important thing to me is the name of the Lord,” said Pacquiao. “I want to let the people know there is God who can raise someone from nothing into something and that’s me. I owe everything to God who gave me this blessing.” Pacquiao thanked his trainer Freddie Roach, promoter Bob Arum and his team, saying, “Thank you for trusting me. God bless you all.”
Floyd Mayweather plays the relentless, win-at-all-costs guy, if not the flat-out bad guy, His remarks were aimed directly at getting in Pacquiao’s head. “I’m in the gym working right now, dedicating myself to the sport, pushing myself to the limit, because I never wanted to win a fight so bad in my life,” said a subdued, serious Mayweather. “He wants to win just the same way I want to win. But one thing I do know. About any sport. When you lose, it’s in your mind. You lost once, it’s in your mind. If you lost twice, it’s in your mind. Form day one, I was always taught to be a winner no matter what, to be a winner.”
One of the few unscripted moments came from trainer Freddie Roach, who can always be counted on to come through. “I love challenges, this is the biggest challenge of my life…We’re fighting the best fighter in the world, and we’re going to kick his (Mayweather’s) ass, I’m sorry,” laughed Roach.
Mayweather’s trainer, his father Floyd Sr., was introduced by Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, but he didn’t speak. Floyd Sr. can’t be trusted to stay on script for a big production like this one. “You missed me, right?” laughed Arum, referring to their former working relationship, when Mayweather was promoted by Top Rank.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said that, due to the demand, tickets would be priced at face value from $1,500 to $7,500 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Count on them reaching five figures on the resale market. Pay-per-view records are sure to be smashed to bits. The fighters themselves will likely make a combined $250 million for their effort. The city of Las Vegas will have a very good week with packed hotel rooms and punch-drunk fans enjoying themselves.
Showtime announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr., who will work the fight, told CDN the five-year wait made the mega fight even bigger due to the anticipation and doubt about its ever coming to pass. Lennon said it was without a doubt the biggest event of his career and likely to be the biggest event for many years in boxing. Pay-per- view records are likely to be smashed, as will the final earnings for both Mayweather and Pacquiao, as much as a combined $250 million.
Until then, let the pundits and the fans argue; let the bets be placed. Everyone will find out how the drama ends on at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on May 2.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, Calif. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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Copyright © 2015 by Falcon Valley Group
NOTE: A correction has been made on Leonard Ellerbe’s title.