LOS ANGELES. — Floyd Mayweather continues to claim he is a better boxer than Muhammad Ali as his showdown with Manny Pacquiao on May 2 gets closer.
The American, unbeaten in 47 professional fights, created a storm earlier this week when he implied he was the best fighter in boxing history.
He told ESPN: “No one can ever brainwash me to make me believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali were better than me.”
And just a few days later he has repeated his comments, despite being blasted by his critics.
Mayweather and Pacquiao meet in Las Vegas in a fight worth £332 million, and the 38-year-old old is unconcerned at the growing criticism.
He said: “No disrespect to Muhammad Ali but he did it in one division. I just look at Ali’s career when he fought Leon Spinks and lost to a fighter with seven fights.
“There were some other fights he lost and he’s still known as ‘The Greatest’ because that’s what he put out there.
“He called himself ‘The Greatest’ and I call myself TBE (The Best Ever). I’m pretty sure I’ll get criticised for what I said but I couldn’t care less. I couldn’t care less about the backlash.”
“Ali is a legend, I respect Ali like I respect any other champions,” explained Mayweather. “I gave this sport my whole life, I feel like I’ve done just as much in this sport as Ali did.
“No disrespect to him.
“Ali did it in one weight class which was heavyweight, but he fought for a hell of a cause in his era.
“It’s hard for a guy to beat me myself, still very sharp at the age of 38, still going strong at the age of 38 and it’s no disrespect to Ali.
“I was pretty sure I would get criticised for what I said but I could care less.
“I believe what I believe. He probably got criticised at one particular time when he said he was ‘The Greatest’.”
And Mayweather says he cares little about Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, who is billing the showdown at the MGM Grand as a battle between good and evil.
Mayweather added: “I’m not fighting Freddie Roach, I’m fighting Manny Pacquiao. He’s trying to get his fighter the edge.
“He’s basically making it a god against a devil kind of thing, but he doesn’t have to get in there and fight.
“He’s entitled to say what he wants to say, but the fighters aren’t speaking like that and it comes down to the two fighters.”
With tickets to his May 2 mega-fight with Pacquiao set to fetch jaw-dropping prices, Mayweather felt no need to add to the hype on Wednesday, avoiding controversy with the same ease with which he evades punches.
Undefeated Mayweather even mustered up some faint praise for Pacquiao and refused to respond to taunts made by the Filipino’s trainer Roach, while offering effusive thanks to the media as he bobbed and weaved his way through a 30-minute conference without landing or taking a single blow.
With the two boxers choosing their words carefully, the biggest controversy in the build-up to what is expected to be the biggest grossing prize fight of all-time has been tickets for the bout, which have yet to go on sale.
“I don’t worry about tickets, I worry about the guy in front of me,” said Mayweather. “Manny Pacquiao that’s my whole focus. Tickets is something I don’t deal with.”
About the same time Mayweather was sparring with the media reports circulated that a deal had been reached between the two fighters’ camps that would see tickets go on the market later on Wednesday.
The MGM Grand is expected to pack in close to 16 500 for the fight but only about 1 000 seats will go on sale to the public with the rest going to the fighters, the casino, sponsors and promoters.
Reports have prices ranging from $1 500 in the upper level to $7 500 ringside but are expected to command an eye-popping $100 000 or more on the secondary resale market, putting them out of reach of all but the rich and famous.
Mayweather also claimed that his game plan against Pacquiao is simple — to win.
Mayweather says he is keeping it straight forward as he finalises his preparations for the eagerly-anticipated clash on May 2 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Meanwhile, tickets for the richest fight in boxing history, can finally go on sale this week after the two sides reached a deal.
Promoter Arum told American sports broadcaster ESPN that a bitter dispute between Pacquiao’s camp, Mayweather Promotions and the MGM Grand Hotel venue had finally been settled.
“I want to apologise for this dragging out for the length of time it has,” Arum told ESPN. “At least we were able to sort it out.”
The dispute had been preventing the release of tickets for inside the Grand Garden arena and to watch the fight on closed-circuit television.
Last month, Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, said tickets would be priced between $1 500 and $7 500. Very few tickets are expected to be available to the public with the majority of seats in the Grand Garden arena being reserved for organisers, sponsors and friends and family of the two camps.
Tickets are supposed to go to Pacquiao and Mayweather’s camps, HBO, MGM Grand and Show-time.
The ticket fiasco is just that latest issue of contention in the build-up to the fight which is expected to generate a record $400 million in revenue.
The sides also argued over drug testing, who would come out last to the ring for the fight, who would sponsor the fight and how much to charge for the pay-per-view which is expected to be offered around $100.
“If you have asked me what my game plan is, my game plan is to win,” said the unbeaten pound-for-pound king. “That is what it always has been. — Reuters- AFP.