Mayweather-Pacquiao: Confusion among Vegas bright lights

By Ben Dirs in Las VegasBBC Sport
Floyd Mayweather and dancer
Floyd Mayweather is joined by a dancer on the stage at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas
Mayweather v Pacquiao
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Date: 2/3 May: 21:00 local time/05:00 Sunday BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

There is a scene in Apocalypse Now, where Martin Sheen descends into a trench to be greeted by confusion and mayhem among the ranks. "Who's in charge here, soldier?" says Sheen. "Ain't you?!" shoots back a bewildered GI.

It's a little bit like that here in Las Vegas before Saturday's big fight - somebody must be running the show, but it's difficult to work out who.

They say Vegas is the brightest spot on earth when seen from space. But Manny Pacquiao's impromptu 'fan rally' was like entering the heart of darkness. Vegas is all about the weird. Yet, in truth, weirdness has little currency in these parts.

Staged in a hangar in the bowels of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, at 10.30am, the rally was essentially a mash-up of hip-hop and traditional Philippine folk dancing. When a couple of elderly gentlemen launched into a power ballad, a few hundred jetlagged journalists wondered if they might still be slumbering.

Filipino dancers at a Pacquiao fans rally
Filipino dancers entertain at a Manny Pacquiao fans rally

Things took a turn for the weirder when Mickey from Macclesfield - I'm not making this up - was invited on stage to perform his interpretation of a Cossack dance. Which surely must have made Mickey think: "Funny how life turns out."

Pacquiao had his own rival party at the Mandalay Bay because his promoter, Bob Arum, doesn't get on with the MGM bosses. In response, Floyd Mayweather, whose grand arrival was heralded by a magnificent marching hip-hop band and dancing girls, scolded his rival for his lack of professionalism.

Elsewhere, Mayweather's father and trainer, Floyd Sr, was mocking Pacquiao's trainer in child's rhyme: "Freddie Roach is nothing but a joke of a coach, blowing smoke with no hope." In boxing, professionalism is a confused notion.

Mayweather and Pacquiao on their upcoming fight

Mayweather spoke to the press for 40 minutes. Mostly about money. He claimed that in the last two days, he had earned $11m (£7m) in investments. He mocked Pacquiao's hotel suite in Miami, where the two rivals opened negotiations in January, making it sound like a bed and breakfast in Grimsby.

When Mayweather spoke about his mysterious advisor Al Haymon, it was as if he was speaking about a genie. "He said to me: 'When you wanted that big-boy mansion built, did we get it built? Did you get that Bugatti you wanted? The house in Miami? The 14-passenger private jet?'" Guess what? Floyd got it all.

Asked if the outcome of his fight with Pacquiao might define his entire career, Mayweather replied: "One fight won't define my career, the thing that will define my career is that I was a great businessman."

It's not glorious or romantic or what boxing fans want to hear. But Mayweather, who has never been beaten in 47 fights since turning pro in 1996, at least made some sense when he was asked what it would mean to him to retire undefeated: "Money is more important than any records - my daughters can't eat no zero."

Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao turns the tables on photographers at a press conference

Six-weight world champion Pacquiao, in stark contrast, is very much a man of his people. So much so that you sense his super-confident demeanour is part of a conscious attempt to assuage any jitters back in the Philippines, where Saturday's fight will bring proceedings grinding to a halt.

You need to fly into Vegas at night to see how far Pacquiao has come, and why his people love him, because the tiny kid who used to fight for $2 a pop in General Santos City is now one of the brightest bulbs in this shiniest of towns.

So shiny that even most of the Americans you talk to want him to upset the odds and do a number on Mayweather, ranging from the man at Las Vegas customs - "I want to see Mayweather get knocked out" - to my taxi driver - "it's good versus evil, and nobody likes to see good get beat, not even in this town".

Confusion and mayhem among the ranks there may be. But this week, of all weeks, shouldn't be any other way. Some day this fight's gonna end.

More on this story:
Pacquiao 'excited & 100% confident'
Mayweather & Pacquiao build-up in pictures
Mayweather aims money taunt at Pacquiao
Ricky Hatton: My head says Floyd

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