By Mark Lamport-Stokes
Just days before they meet in the ring for their highly-anticipated showdown, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather marked the start of fight week at different events, with the Filipino southpaw a notable absentee from the ‘Grand Arrival’.
While Las Vegas resident Mayweather greeted his fans in typically flamboyant fashion at the MGM Grand hotel’s official ceremony, Pacquiao conducted his own fan rally elsewhere earlier in the day.
Pacquiao’s long-time promoter Bob Arum felt his fighter owed it to his legions of supporters in the United States to host a public rally at the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, where he and his entourage are staying this week.
“There are 70,000 Filipinos living in Southern Nevada, and they’ve obviously been very supportive of Manny,” Arum told Reuters after Pacquiao had been welcomed to Las Vegas by hundreds of excited, raucous fans.
“We felt that we owed them this type of a rally and we felt that we couldn’t do it here (at the MGM Grand) because Floyd, quite properly, would have objected.
“So rather than cause any problems, we went to the Mandalay Bay where Manny is staying and we did it there and Mayweather did his thing here. The timing was good so the press could be at both events.”
Mayweather, however, did not agree when he spoke to reporters after treating several thousand fans to performances by stand-up comedian Ricky Smiley and the Southern University’s ‘Human Jukebox’ marching band at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“He (Pacquiao) should have been here with me,” said the American. “So many different sponsors and networks came together to make it possible. It was the professional thing to support this.
“The bar is always set so high for Floyd Mayweather. If I didn’t show up to the ‘Grand Arrival’, it would be front page news.”
The undefeated Mayweather (47-0), who is guaranteed $120 million from a mega-fight that is expected to be the richest of all time, oozed confidence as he predicted his record would remain perfect.
“I truly believe I am the smarter fighter,” said the 38-year-old. “Pacquiao is reckless. Everybody’s game plan (against Mayweather) is to come forward and throw lots of punches. It hasn’t worked in 19 years and 47 fights.”
Earlier, Pacquiao promised that his “killer instinct” was intact as he prepared for Saturday’s welterweight showdown.
“My confidence is different than for other fights,” the 36-year-old told reporters after his arrival at the Mandalay Bay rally was preceded by a colourful display from Filipino singers and folk dancers.
“I am not nervous. I am excited. I have something to prove. I like being the underdog because my killer instinct is there, my focus is there.”
Pacquiao, a 2-1 underdog for a fight expected to earn him more than $100 million, told the cheering fans at his rally: “Don’t be nervous. I know I’m going to win the fight in the ring, so relax.”