Anticipation at fever pitch as Floyd and Manny arrive in Vegas

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Showpiece: Las Vegas got lit up as Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather turn up.

In two different hotels on the Las Vegas strip on Tuesday, pandemonium ensued. But the two men at the heart of it all, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, both kept unerringly cool ahead of the richest fight in the history of boxing on Saturday.

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As is now customary for the big bouts in Vegas, the boxers simply arriving has turned into an event in itself, where fans can gather to officially welcome the stars to the Strip.

However Tuesday’s so-called ‘Grand Arrivals’ were like none before as thousands upon thousands of fans flocked to catch a glimpse of both men, giving a clear indication that this entire fight week, during which 200,000 fans will descend upon Vegas, will fall somewhere between total chaos and utter madness.

Usually, the boxers both ‘arrive’ at the hotel in which the fight will take place – in this case the MGM Grand. But, in keeping with the fractured negotiations that have provided the backdrop for the making of this contest, Pacquiao and his promoters Top Rank decided to do their event down the Strip at the Mandalay Bay.

It was a roaring success, though, with thousands of adoring Filipino fans, some who spontaneously burst into tears, turning out to show their support for Pacman.

Mayweather, meanwhile, was welcomed by a marching band at the MGM in front of an equally healthy turn out.

Of his opponent’s decision to stay away from the official arrival, Floyd said: “I can’t really speak on Manny Pacquiao and why he’s not here but people have spent a lot of money for this event so it’s all about being professional.”

But, if anything, the split-venue set-up only added to the magnitude of the occasion. Usually, for fights here at the MGM, the two boxers will be welcomed into the hotel’s lobby one after the other before saying a few words and disappearing into a back room.

This time, the two events were held in vast arenas with Pacquiao’s taking place in the convention centre at the Mandalay Bay while Mayweather arrived into the actual Grand Garden Arena where the fight will take place.

The settings, and the size of the two crowds, helped generate a crescendo like none seen here for years.

But, despite the intense heat of the moment, both men kept their cool. Pacquiao reassured his fans: “Don’t get nervous, I’m the one who will win the fight on Saturday – so relax.”

Mayweather, meanwhile, said: “I don’t focus on all the festivities going on. I just focus on being the best that I can be and doing what I’m supposed to do in the gym.”

The pair have been locked away in top-secret training camps for what could be a legacy-defining fight for the victor. And, of course, with the clash now only days away they also both ooze confidence.

Pacquiao, whose record currently stands at 57-5-2, said: “We’re not working on one strategy, but we have two or three. If he wants to fight me, that’s good for me. But if he’s running and running and moving around the ring, we’ve prepared for that too.

“I can’t say Mayweather is the most dangerous opponent of my career because I’ve fought other guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez and other boxers.

“He’s a difficult opponent but my confidence is difference for this. I have no nerves, maybe the people get nerves but I’m excited, this is it.

“I have to prove something. Every time I’m the underdog, I like that because my killer instinct, my focus is there. This is what I want.”

Mayweather, with a perfect 47-0 record, has seen it all before, however.

He said: “One thing everybody plans for is to come forward and throw a lot of punches. They think it works, but it hasn’t worked in 19 years. If that’s his game plan, then we’ll just have to see how everything breaks down.

“Pacquiao would be a better fighter if he wasn’t so reckless. It’s a gift and a curse. He’s won a lot of fights by being reckless. But also being reckless can get you knocked out.”

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