LOS ANGELES — As the hype machine for boxing’s fight of fights cranked into action on Wednesday it was the camp of Manny Pacquiao, and not Floyd Mayweather, who came out firing the first verbal jabs.
It was a role reversal perhaps as surprising as the fact that the clash between the sport’s two biggest names is finally taking place, as the typically brash Mayweather stayed subdued while his Filipino opponent and his cohorts let fly.
The day of the only public meeting between the pair ahead of fight week – the contest will take place in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2 – began with Pacquiao, usually quiet and reserved in interviews, taunting Mayweather by stating that the American would lose in a fight with female MMA star Ronda Rousey.
Later, at a scheduled media session, Pacquiao’s coach Freddie Roach asserted that Mayweather’s legs, at the age of 38, were “shot” and that he has slowed significantly in recent years.
Pacquiao himself said he was less concerned about this fight than he had been for facing either Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito or Oscar De La Hoya, all fights he won with consummate ease.
“My feeling is I am confident 110 percent,” Pacquiao said. “I’m not worried about this fight, I was more worried about the others.”
With less than eight weeks to go until the fight this is usually Mayweather’s time to get to work in cutting down the psyche of his opponent. Often his rivals are beaten before they step into the ring, destroyed mentally by a bombardment of taunts and jibes.
It happened with Robert Guerrero, Ricky Hatton, Victor Ortiz and countless others on Mayweather’s way to a 47-0 record. Yet this time there is no long, national publicity drive to give Mayweather the daily chance to put doubt into his rival’s mind.