Two well-dressed young men came to Los Angeles on Wednesday to publicly discuss their recent business transaction.
The surroundings — a red carpet lined with hundreds of inquiring minds and an equal number of cameras, use of Nokia Theater at LA Live and even some Ben-Hur-like music — left the impression that the entire world cared about this.
There is evidence that it does.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have agreed to compete in a boxing match against each other May 2 in Las Vegas. World peace is not at stake, but world curiosity is.
This alleged news conference, of course, was not about the fight. That is competition and athletics. This was a public sales rally. It was also the only one that will be held prior to the fight. No eight-day, 10-city show designed to stir purchases of the pay-per-view from their cable company.
This show came only to Los Angeles, and we were not only blessed, but drowning in superlatives and hype.
• "This fight will rock the world."
• "May 2 will be a spectacle like they've never seen before in Las Vegas."
• "This is a fight the world can't miss."
• "For fans all over the world, it will be like the Super Bowl and Olympics."
Who said these things doesn't matter. That they were said, over and over in various forms, does.
No fight matches its hype, but Mayweather-Pacquiao might come the closest. When Mayweather stood before the media in full pitch mode, the irony was inescapable.
"This is one fight that sells itself," he said.
It is also a fight likely to set world records for boxing cash flow. Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's longtime friend and advisor, announced near the end of the news conference/sales rally that ticket prices would be scaled from $1,500 to $7,500.
Depending on how many seats are sold at what price, that could bring a $50-million live gate at the 16,000-seat MGM Grand Arena. Even if they sold all the seats at the lower price, it would be $24 million.
The pay-per-view price has not been officially established, but $100 seems likely. Mayweather and Pacquiao each could surpass $50 million from that alone, with Mayweather getting the most with his negotiated 60-40 split.
This story is likely to be front and center for the next six weeks, until fight night. A sports public that has done everything in the last five years from begging to demanding that it take place, wants and deserves that.
Wednesday's news conference/sales rally is only the start, and it served to trigger some observations and conclusions:
• CBS and its chief executive, Les Moonves, are getting much of the credit for finally putting this together, but the real reason it happened is that Pacquiao swallowed a lot of pride. He met Mayweather by chance at a basketball game in Miami, and Pacquiao's version of the discussion afterward in his hotel room is telling.
"I didn't say a lot of words," Pacquiao said. "It was clear that there would be an A side and a B side (the 60-40 split) and I knew I was the B side."
• Mayweather has a mantra that he seems to be carrying, both to convince himself and get into Pacquiao's head. Mayweather's record is 47-0. Pacquiao is 57-5-2 and has lost recent fights to Timothy Bradley (he didn't really lose, the judges just said so) and Juan Manuel Marquez.
"If you lose once, it gets in your head," Mayweather said. "If you lose again, it's in there even more."
• The subject of animosity on both sides that may have derailed this fight until now will be a neat sidestep and tap dance all the way to May 2.
Mayweather's manager is Al Haymon. Pacquiao's promoter is Bob Arum. Haymon and Arum have always been about as friendly as coyotes and cats. Arum said there was no animosity for him to overcome in these dealings, because he was involved in only one two-hour meeting with Haymon, and others were there, too.
Haymon's side of this is impossible to determine because he mostly operates behind closed doors and in smoke-filled rooms.
Another element of animosity, left unsaid and mostly forgotten, is that Pacquiao got a settlement from Mayweather over a slander suit. That stems from the time the sides first tried to put together a fight five years ago and it fell apart over Mayweather's demands for drug testing. During those demands, Mayweather and his father, trainer Floyd Sr., said some things that prompted Pacquiao to file a slander suit.
Mayweather eventually was ordered to pay an undisclosed settlement that previously has been disclosed in the media as $5 million.
• The theory that this fight will be a big flop and crashing bore because both fighters are now in their late 30s is probably bogus. Both exuded maturity and savvy Wednesday — these pep rallies demand lots of that — and a couple of thinking boxers may put on a much better show than two younger, mindless sluggers.
• More mature or not, sometimes Mayweather needs to ponder before he speaks.
When asked about scouting Pacquiao fights over the years, he said he had only seen him fight maybe twice.
"I'm not a boxing fan," he said. "I'm more into football and basketball."
This from a guy who was speaking for the purpose of having boxing fans plunk down anywhere from $7,500 a seat to $100 for pay-per-view.
• Any news conference/sales rally that includes Arum, Top Rank Promotion chief, will always be a delight because of his ability to sell you snake oil while unabashedly identifying it as snake oil.
When he began his presentation at this meet-the-press-and-sell-the-goods, he opened by saying: "You want more baloney? Why stop now?"