Manny Pacquiao has celebrated his ascension from his poverty-stricken origins in the Philippines to one of the combatants in the richest fight of all time.
For the first time in fight week, Pacquiao came face to face with Floyd Mayweather at Wednesday’s final press conference to discuss their seismic welterweight showdown in Las Vegas.
Manny is going to be fast and elusive, moving from side to side. Floyd will have to bring his A plus game.Mike Tyson
The traditional pre-fight ritual was notable for the mutual respect between the two fighters with born-again Christian Pacquiao, who spoke first, using his presentation to thank God for enabling his rags to riches story.
“I used to sleep in the street, starving and hungry. I had nothing and was looking for food. I couldn’t imagine that the Lord raised me into this position and to this level of life,” he said.
“Everything that I accomplish has been given to me by God. I want to be an example and inspiration to everyone.
“I’m hoping that after the fight me and Floyd can have a conversation about God and share our faith. We need to inspire people, especially children who are looking up to us.
“I’d like everyone to witness a good fight. There are a lot of questions that only God can answer.”
Up to 200 camera crews were present in the KA Theatre at the MGM Grand, the venue for the clash which unfolds in the early hours of Sunday morning, to witness the fighters, trainers, promoters, sponsors and TV executives offer their thoughts on the event.
Last up to the dais was Mayweather, the favourite who is seeking to amass the 48th victory of a flawless career.
“It’s time to fight now. You guys came out here to see excitement and to see a great event. Excitement is what both competitors bring to the table,” Mayweather said.
“This is the biggest fight in boxing history and I’m a part of it, that’s the great thing. I’m truly blessed and feeling strong.”
Among the spectators at the press conference was Mike Tyson with the former undisputed world heavyweight champion predicting that Mayweather will struggle to live with Pacquiao’s work rate.
“I like Manny, he throws a lot of punches and Floyd is going to have to throw more than 38 punches a round with this guy,” Tyson said.
“Manny is going to be fast and elusive, moving from side to side. Floyd will have to bring his A plus game.”
The fight is expected to gross between £266 million to £332 million with Mayweather in line to earn £100 million and Pacquiao in the region of £66 million.
Toppling Pacquiao at the MGM Grand would leave Mayweather just one short of equalling Rocky Marciano’s hallowed 49-fight unbeaten mark.
Mayweather’s insistence that he has no desire to eclipse Marciano has been met with widespread scepticism, however Bob Arum, whose Top Rank are joint promoters of the fight, predicts the 38-year-old will soon hang up his gloves. “I believe what Floyd is saying in that he is looking towards retirement. He’s been at it since he’s eight years old and he doesn’t enjoy it like he used to,” said Arum, who promoted the reigning pound-for-pound king for the first decade of his career.
“Like Marvin Hagler said, millionaires sleep in silk pyjamas and don’t like to get up in the morning and do roadwork.
“When he retires, I think Floyd will be a great party guy. He’ll have plenty of money and he’ll enjoy himself.
“I just hope that for his sake he settles down and lives a more normal family-type life.”
While September could be Mayweather’s final outing, quite possibly in a rematch against Pacquiao, Arum predicts the Filipino southpaw he has promoted since 2006 will continue fighting until the end of next year.
“Manny still enjoys boxing, but I’d look for him to hang the gloves up in 2016,” Arum said.
“That being said, in 2016 he’ll be running for the senate in the Philippines and that’s much more time-consuming than being an ordinary congressman.”
One opponent Pacquiao is unlikely to face is Amir Khan, with Arum insisting the Briton rejected the fight – “with Khan a lot of it is just talk”.