LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao weighed in below the welterweight limit Friday before a packed arena of screaming, singing fans anticipating the landmark bout.
One day before Mayweather and Pacquiao finally meet in the richest event in boxing history, they took the stage in an MGM Grand arena filled with 11,500 fans enjoying the public’s best chance to see the fighters in person.
A beaming Pacquiao (57-5-2, 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.
The fighters betrayed few emotions in their staredown, keeping with the impersonal nature of the promotion.
But Pacquiao also said, “Thank you” to Mayweather, who said he didn’t hear it.
“(I was) thanking him for the fans that the fight will happen,” Pacquiao said. “I think, I believe that the fight must happen because the fans deserve it.”
Sections of the crowd roared and booed for both fighters, although the majority appeared to support Pacquiao, who raised both arms to the crowd with finger V’s for victory. Mayweather was booed repeatedly when his image appeared on the arena scoreboards, but he also acknowledged his healthy cheering section with waves and a raised fist.
“I’ve dedicated myself to the sport of boxing for over 20 years, and I’m ready,” Mayweather said.
Even an ordinary weigh-in turned into a hot ticket in boxing’s capital city because only about 500 tickets for the actual fight were sold to the public. The promotion took the unprecedented step of selling $10 tickets to the weigh-in and donating the profits to charity, but secondary prices for the weigh-in seats topped $500 on StubHub earlier this week.
The fans began arriving on the Strip on Friday morning, packing the MGM Grand’s parking garage and streaming into the casino from the street. A long line to get into the arena formed several hours early, and the first fans got into the building four hours before any fighters took the stage.
Many Filipino fans dressed in bright colors and waved their nation’s flag, including one with a superimposed “Manny for President!” slogan. The 36-year-old Pacquiao is a congressman, but has patiently pointed out that he couldn’t be the Philippines’ president until he turns 40.
While the fans bought food and merchandise during their wait, hip-hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh rapped and beatboxed on stage. Two groups of fans on the concourse exchanged loud dueling chants of “Man-ny! Man-ny!” and “Floyd! Floyd!” before grinning security guards told them to cool it.
The weigh-in was the final ceremony before the culmination of five years of negotiations and posturing between the unbeaten Mayweather and the popular Pacquiao, the two most prominent boxers of the past half-decade. Fans have been begging for the bout since Pacquiao established himself as a legitimate welterweight power in 2009 by stopping Miguel Cotto.
Mayweather’s initial demands about drug testing and an unexplained reluctance kept them apart until this year, when the money to be made became too great to ignore. The matchup sparked worldwide interest well outside of boxing’s normal sphere, but the weigh-in crowd appeared to be made up of fight fans eager to scratch their half-decade itch to see the fighters together.
Pacquiao is an eight-division champion who hasn’t taken the challenger’s role in a fight promotion in ages, but he agreed to cede precedence to Mayweather to make the fight.
Pacquiao didn’t appear to be feeling any pressure: He took a selfie in the tunnel before he took his walk to the scales.
Mayweather also appeared to be calm and collected, walking to the stage to the strains of a hip-hop song with his Money Team personal brand in the lyrics.
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