Mayweather takes round one against Pacquiao

Sharp-dressed Manny. Photo: Getty

Sharp-dressed Manny. Photo: Getty

Boxing press conferences have long been a theatre of the absurd.

See Cassius Clay’s taunting of Sonny Liston or Mike Tyson’s overexposure when meeting Frank Bruno.

More recently we have endured Bernard Hopkins’ declaration of war on Puerto Rico in 2001 at a presser with Felix Trinidad and Tyson’s infamous bite to the leg of Lennox Lewis.

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There were no such histrionics at Wednesday’s event at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to hype the May 2 showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

It was a red-carpet affair – literally. Even Justin Bieber turned up, wearing a silly hat.

Justin Bieber and Floyd Mayweather. Photo: Getty

Justin Bieber and Floyd Mayweather. Photo: Getty

As a promotional exercise it was relatively pointless.

If both Mayweather and Pacquiao were sent to Mars to prepare for this stoush and weren’t sighted again until the weigh-in, it would still comfortably outsell any fight before it.

But that didn’t stop a media swarm descending on the theatre to see the boxers’ first – and last – public face-off until fight week.

It looked more like the Academy Awards, with red-carpet interviews and swathes of microphones.

ESPN went right over the top, producing a ‘show’ about the press conference.

Both men were suited and booted, Mayweather’s grey tie-less country-and-western inspired number just edging the fashion battle via controversial split decision (there were plenty who felt Pacquiao’s charcoal check suit and ox-blood red tie combo did enough to get the nod.)

Pacquiao, usually a model of circumspection at these type of gatherings, was ebullient about his chances.

“He has a good defence but I’m not worried about that,” the Filipino said.

“I can easily break that defence.”

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, was the most aggressive of the speakers, declaring the fight the biggest of his career.

Roach is from a boxing family and was a very capable lightweight in his day, but he took a few good beatings on the way down.

He is a trainer who always has his fighter’s best interests at heart but it was, nevertheless, slightly disconcerting to hear him so bold.

The last thing a fighter needs is a brave trainer.

Sharp-dressed Manny. Photo: Getty

Sharp-dressed Manny. Photo: Getty

“I love challenges,” Roach said. “This is the biggest challenge of my life.

“It’s finally here and in front of me. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long, long time.

“We’re in the fight of our lives but we’re gonna kick his ass. Good luck, Floyd.”

Floyd took the jibe in good humour.

In fact, Mayweather was so calm and thoughtful you could have been forgiven for thinking he’d had a Valium before turning up.

Ignoring the fact that both he and Pacquiao are past their best, he said there’s no time like the present.

“Everything is about timing. I think we couldn’t choose a better time,” he said.

Perhaps his best move of the evening was denying his father Floyd Sr – a notoriously loose cannon – a speaking gig.

For the roughly 600 press in attendance, a few of them boxing lifers blinking through misty, unbelieving eyes, the sound bites probably weren’t worth the hassle.

It will, without question, be the richest fight staged.

Where boxing is headed afterwards, it may hold the record forever.

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