The moment was historic, the atmosphere was electric, the crowd was roaring like 11,500 lions, and the stands were shaking and everyone in the MGM Garden Arena seemed to be exhilarated by the occasion except one man — Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When, on February 20, Mayweather announced that this fight would take place, no boxing journalist or analyst, no former boxer gave Manny Pacquiao a chance. But in the last few days, things have changed and journalists from around the world in Vegas are murmuring quietly.
At the official weigh-in, the crowd roared as the MC shouted, “if you’re a Pacquiao fan, make some noise”.
And when the MC shouted the same thing for Mayweather, the crowd booed and suddenly chants of “Manny Manny Manny” broke out in the packed arena.
When Michael Buffer, the legendary HBO announcer, took the microphone to introduce Pacquiao to the weigh-in, the crowd erupted again.
The euphoria surrounding Pacquiao seems to have affected his opponent. The cracks are starting to appear.
Mayweather was greeted with so many jeers and boos that, for the first time in his past 11 fights at his “home” venue, he must have felt like an outsider. He was gesturing with irritation to the crowd and was mostly muted.
Pacquiao weighed-in at 145lbs and Mayweather a pound heavier.
While Mayweather raised his index finger to suggest he’s No 1, the crowed booed even louder. Pacquiao responded by taking out a chocolate biscuit and eating it before the two faced each other for the customary staredown.
What did you see in Floyd’s eyes during the stare down? Pacquiao responded: “I saw a man with a lot of worries”.
Mayweather’s confidence may be softening with the pressure of finally facing the fighter he dodged for five years.
He has altered his training regime, starting to chop tree-trunks, do laps of the swimming pool. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said: “Crazy, you don’t suddenly change what you’ve been doing successfully for years when you come to the biggest fight of your life.”
The implication is that Mayweather is trying to compensate for lost speed by building more strength. Maybe he has no alternative with which to cope with Pacquiao’s blistering foot and hand speed.
To be great is to be accepted by the people, and Mayweather has seen first-hand how Pacquiao has been accepted by the masses. He has more to lose than Pacquiao from this fight.
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