The lead-up to Saturday’s mega-bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao has been largely devoid of the vitriol and braggadocio that often surround championship fights, with the two boxers thanking God and exchanging compliments rather than taunts.
But that civility has not carried over to the trainers, who continued their verbal sparring Thursday.
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, and Mayweather’s father and coach, Floyd Mayweather Sr., held back-to-back news conferences in the same room, where each was asked to respond to comments made by the other.
At one point the two men stood just a couple of feet apart, yet neither acknowledged the other. Roach insisted it was nothing personal.
“I really don’t hate Floyd Mayweather Sr.,” he said. “He does get under my skin. He’s trying to do the best he can and I’m trying to do the best I can.
“There’s no hard feelings.”
The elder Mayweather took to rhyme to express his mind.
“Freddie Roach is a joke with no hope,” he said. “That’s my answer.”
On other topics Mayweather was far less poetic. Asked about his boxer’s custom-made gloves, which Roach claimed weren’t available for inspection until Thursday, Mayweather began by mocking Pacquiao’s trainer, then ignoring the question.
“The gloves,” he said tersely when pressed, “are really not an issue.”
Roach also accused the Mayweathers of being afraid to fight Pacquiao, agreeing to the bout only after being pushed by Showtime.
“He’s a good fighter but he picked his own opponents the whole time,” Roach said of the younger Mayweather. “I have a feeling he didn’t pick this one. I don’t really think he wanted to fight this fight. I think he was forced to fight this fight.”
Mayweather Sr. huffed, then answered that claim with his best I-know-what-I-am-but-what-are-you? taunt.
“We don’t care what they say,” he said. “We are not scared. I’m telling you that. They’re the ones who are scared.”
Predictably, the two also had different views on the fight itself. Roach said his game plan calls for Pacquiao to cut off the ring if the defense-minded Mayweather Jr. tries to run. As a result the fight is likely to go the distance with his boxer winning on points, he said.
“We talk leading up to the fight. But now the fight’s here,” he said. “The trash-talking is over.”
The elder Mayweather, meanwhile, said he wasn’t expecting an entertaining bout.
“I don’t think it will be much of a fight,” he said. Asked if that meant an early end with a knockout, he nodded and said “pretty much.”
Mayweather then ended his rambling, often intelligible media session by dismissing Roach -- “I’m going to let Freddie Roach rest. I don’t have anything else to say about him” –- then praising himself in prose.
“I’m the best, I must confess
All the rest? There’s no contest.”