Photos by Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
As Mayweather-Pacquiao fight week approaches its crescendo, what has been the clearest sign of how enormous this event is shaping up to be? Is it the Hitchockian moth invasion of Las Vegas that was a subplot of the first half of the week? (Answer: No.) Is it the signage that adorns every available square inch of real estate at the MGM Grand? (To some extent.) ESPN’s live, OJ-in-a-white-Bronco coverage of Manny Pacquiao’s bus driving from Los Angeles to Vegas? How about making a beeline for the cookies in the media room and bumping into famed former heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney? Or the fact that Cooney promptly agreed to sit down and be interviewed for the HBO Boxing Podcast – as, for that matter, did Shane Mosley, Andre Ward, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Terence Crawford, Freddie Roach and HBO Sports President Ken Hershman? (Now we’re talking.)
But really, if you want to truly understand the immensity of all this, try walking across the casino floor at the MGM Grand. Try forcing your way through the seething mass of humanity to make it to the restroom. For a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, the ultimate challenge was shuffling into out of the Grand Garden Arena for the weigh-in.
At club shows up and down the country, weigh-ins may attract 13 people. Today, the arena was rocking to the cheers and jeers of around 13,000, almost as many as will be in attendance for Saturday’s fight. It was one of those moments that required stepping back and reveling in the surroundings, enjoying and appreciating being present at the defining boxing card of a generation.
Certainly, that appeared to be Pacquiao’s attitude as he smiled for the crowd and took selfies during his walk to the weigh-in stage. And when he reached that stage, he smiled some more and took more selfies. Floyd Mayweather, in contrast, showed little emotion beyond a cursory smile as he began his own walk, appearing somewhat tense – or, as he insisted in an interview after stepping off the scale, focused on the task at hand.
It is tempting, but risky, to read too much into such prefight demeanors, but the contrast was palpable. Lewis, when talking to the HBO podcast, ventured that maybe Mayweather’s apparent tension was related to the pressure of being the favorite; but then, he said, he felt somewhat similarly before his big fight with Mike Tyson, and that worked out pretty well for him.
Right now, speculation is all there is. Late Saturday night, after five and a half years of waiting, we will have our answers.
Manny Pacquiao 145 pounds
Floyd Mayweather 146 pounds