Mon | May 22, 2017

Showdown in Las Vegas

Published:Saturday | May 2, 2015 | 5:00 AM
AP Manny Pacquiao ay yesterday's weigh-in in Las Vegas.
AP Floyd Mayweather Jr. poses during yesterday's weigh-in.
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LAS VEGAS (AP):

Five years in the making, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao meet tonight in the richest fight in the history of the sport.

The weigh-in was yesterday. A beaming Pacquiao 57 wins five losses and two draws (38 KOs) stepped on the scales first and weighed in at 145 pounds - two below the welterweight limit.

Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) followed and weighed in at 146 pounds.

Their styles have been analysed endlessly and their minds dissected as much as possible. And it still remains anyone's guess just what kind of fight this will be.

Will Pacquiao score early and often to beat a fighter who has never been beaten? Will Mayweather risk standing and trading punches, or be content to use his defensive wizardry to win for the 48th straight time?

Will boxing get the fight the hype deserves, and the sport desperately needs?

Mayweather risking legacy

The fight is for the welterweight championship of the world, but in reality it's much more. Mayweather will be risking his legacy against arguably the best opponent of his career, while Pacquiao will carry the weight of an entire nation into the ring at the MGM Grand arena.

"Everyone talks about the money, the money, the money," Mayweather said. "I want the fight to live up to its magnitude. That's what it's really about."

Whether Mayweather actually believes that or is trying to sell pay-per-views - at a record price of $99.95 - won't be known until after the two men enter the ring sometime after 11 p.m. (Jamaica time). In past fights he's worried more about protecting his unblemished record than he has pleasing the fans who pay to watch him fight. Mayweather is guaranteed $180 million for the fight while Pacquiao will get a minimum of $120 million.

But he has clearly bulked up for this fight, returning to some old ways by chopping up tree trunks to gain muscle. He's going to be the bigger fighter in the ring, and he's going to have a chance to impose his will on Pacquiao if needed.

"Floyd Mayweather is going to try and take Manny Pacquiao's head off," said Mayweather's promoter, Leonard Ellerbe. "You can count on that happening. He'll do it in a manner where he follows a game plan, but Floyd Mayweather is looking to finish him off and I strongly believe that will happen."

"I truly believe I'm the smarter fighter," Mayweather said. "He would be a better fighter if he wasn't so reckless. It's a gift and it's a curse. He's won a lot of fights by being reckless, but you can be reckless and get knocked out. And getting knocked out in a harsh way can affect you in the long run."

Pacquiao, of course, has been knocked out, in the harshest of ways. He was on the attack in the sixth round of his December 2012 fight with Juan Manuel Marquez when a right hand from Marquez left him face down and unconscious on the canvas.

To beat Mayweather, though, Pacquiao will have to risk getting hit. More importantly, he'll have to figure out how to get to Mayweather without taking big damage in return.

"He is a little bit bigger but like David and Goliath, size doesn't matter," Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach said. "We are the better puncher and we are faster."