The scheduled fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is already being called the fight of the century.
But no matter how good the matchup turns out to be when the boxers climb into the ring in seven weeks, it may have trouble matching the hype, which started in earnest Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles when more than 700 credentialed media members lined a red carpet to watch both fighters make Oscar-style entrances into the 7,000-seat venue.
Mayweather was the first off the carpet and into a side room backstage. But as is his custom, the unbeaten world champion was late. About 45 minutes late, in fact, nearly spoiling carefully laid plans to have both fighters make their arrivals and meet with select journalists without having to cross paths ahead of an early afternoon news conference.
But once he arrived, Mayweather didn't disappoint. Surrounded by a beefy entourage and dressed in a buttoned-up shirt and tan sports coat, the unbeaten world champion called the bout "the biggest fight in boxing history" and took credit for helping make it happen.
For most of the last five years Mayweather has seemed more interested in putting off a fight with Pacquiao. But Wednesday he said it was his decision to join Pacquiao in a hotel room following a Miami Heat game that helped close the deal for the fight.
"I feel that's why the fight happened," said Mayweather (47-0, 26 knockouts). "It really came down to my team and his team sitting town and communicating, getting on the same page."
In his 30-minute session with the media, Mayweather spoke softly and thoughtfully, without the cockiness and braggadocio that sometimes surface in his pre-fight media events. And though he wasn't asked for a prediction, he quietly offered one anyway.
"I believe in my skills," he said flatly. "And I believe I'm going to be victorious."
But he said the fans are going to be victorious no matter who wins.
"I know the fans can't wait for [the fight]," he said. "We finally made it happen. Everything's about timing. It took a while but we made it happen."
It will be "the best fighting the best," he added. "That's what so intriguing about this matchup."
Asked what he wanted his legacy to be, the 38-year-old turned introspective, focusing on family as much as boxing.