Politics
Trump wanted to fire women who weren't pretty enough, say employees at his California golf club
Column

No news is the only news as Pacquiao-Mayweather approaches

There's a big non-news conference for Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight

We are here on the fight scene. It's Wednesday, meaning Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. is three days away. We are here to report the news.

There is none.

They held a newsless news conference in a huge showroom at the MGM Grand.

Before the newsless news conference, they held a newsless interview with the Pacquiao team. After the newsless news conference, they did the same with the Mayweather team.

Both were held in a side room with, fittingly, a 10-foot horn hanging overhead and the entrance to the men's room blocked.

Mayweather captured the essence of the drama of daily developments when he faced the media and said, "Nothing has changed since yesterday, guys."

There are thousands of people walking the halls of the MGM Grand, and 80% of them seem to have microphones and press badges. The broadcast group has been housed in the usual press center, but many of them do their stand-up reports outside, after practice preening and makeup.

The ink-stained wretches, the usual occupants of the press center, are now housed in a giant tent in a parking lot. It is downwind.

The fans have started to arrive in hordes. They linger near the closed media events, apparently hoping to meet somebody who has met somebody who once met Manny or Floyd.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey spent years perfecting their business model. Here, it is happening naturally and spontaneously.

There are issues, of course. This is boxing.

It was learned that the Mayweather camp demanded a look at the cup that Pacquiao will wear during the fight. That's right, his cup. Not the one from which he drinks coffee. Later, it was explained by the Mayweather team that the cup had been marked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission so Pacquiao won't be able to cheat on fight night with a new — and presumably more dangerous — cup.

God has become a big player.

Pacquiao, notably religious in recent years, has made his theme for this fight the amazement that a young boy who was once on the streets and had nothing has come this far. He is talking about himself, of course.

Mayweather, notably less religious in all his years, ended the newsless news conference by thanking God and revealing that "without him, none of us would be here."

Mayweather also appeared to offer not only thanks, but forgiveness, to a group of boxing writers who, he said, "have kept me relevant for the last 19 years … even when you wrote bad stories."

Left unsaid was whether he meant a bad story in terms of faulty grammar and syntax, or in terms of reference to things such as domestic abuse and jail time.

As big as God was, Bob Arum was bigger.

Arum and his Top Rank Boxing, are not the main promoters of this fight. But the 83-year-old boxing icon has Pacquiao, giving him a foot in the door. The main promoter is Al Haymon, Mayweather's top advisor, who is about as accessible as a groundhog. That, of course, plays right into Arum's hands. The last time he turned down an interview, he was in diapers.

Arum wasn't even the master of ceremonies for the newsless news conference. Mayweather's friend and main assistant, Leonard Ellerbe, was. But Arum quickly moved in, like Sherman on Atlanta.

He ripped Haymon, whom he likes like hip replacement surgery, by never mentioning him. He also jabbed at MGM, whose president of sports entertainment, Richard Sturm, the host for this mega-fight, was sitting on the same dais.

In a similar setting before a recent Top Rank fight, he once labeled Sturm "the president in charge of putting up the wrong posters." The MGM had been filled, the week of a Top Rank fight, with signs for the next Mayweather fight.

Arum gushed about the greatness of nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the Pacquiao team is staying. Sturm sat stoically, five feet away.

Arum ripped rival Showtime cable network by gushing about HBO. He ripped Haymon's group by pointing out how much fight sponsorship and Pacquiao endorsement money had been sold by his Top Rank people. The Haymon people, he told reporters later, had sold none.

"Sometimes," he said, "you don't have to be the lead promoter to accomplish what needs to be done."

Along the way, he summoned to the microphone a former prominent Filipino politician, Chavit Singson, whom he once famously introduced at one of these boxing no-news shows as "Governor Whatisname."

As entertaining as Arum was, Floyd Mayweather Sr. also got in his licks.

While the media waited for the newsless interview session with Mayweather that followed the newsless news conference, Floyd Sr., his son's trainer, wandered by. He saw an empty chair and an open microphone and sat down under the 10-foot-long horn.

After assuring everybody that Pacquiao would be knocked out, he shared some rap lyrics, presumably original:

"Floyd's the man to meet if you want to go to sleep."

And, "Your eyes can't hit what your eyes can't see."

Eventually, Floyd Jr. arrived to say that nothing had changed since Tuesday. But the push for sound bites and publishable inanities could not be stopped. He was asked to somehow relate the fight to the riots in Baltimore.

"I believe, in our country, we need to be more positive," he said. "We should be able to work together as one."

That was substantive, sensible, and coming from somebody who often has not been so.

Now, that's news.

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

Twitter: @DwyreLATimes

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
91°