IT’S been a quiet start to fight week so far in Las Vegas with both Golden Boy and Top Rank politely scheduling their events without conflict, even if it has made it torrid for the journalists covering both.
I arrived on Monday in the afternoon and despite jetlag stayed up for a 10.30pm roundtable interview with Amir Khan.
There were no events scheduled for Tuesday, though I went to The Cosmopolitan Hotel to interview Andy Lee, who was working out ahead of his fight with Matt Korobov. I also dropped in to the Mayweather Boxing Club to spend time with Jeff Mayweather and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, two of my older boxing acquaintances, and interviewed Ashley Theophane ahead of his fighting Texas on Friday.
Things picked up on Wednesday. Top Rank opened their gym for the media workouts of the fighters on the card on Saturday. Again, I spoke with Lee – who talked about how, despite his terrible start against John Jackson, he always felt he would win the fight. I talked to his quietly confident trainer Adam Booth ( he’s in town with his team that includes Dave Coldwell and Richard Towers) and a an old fight friend in Las Vegas said Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao had never been as close to happening as it is now, only there was still a lot to do and negotiations were “tense.”
The Top Rank gym buzzed. HBO were in filming in preparation of Saturday’s broadcast. Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz was in training.
I had a good talk with fight manager Cameron Dunkin. He conceded Stuey Hall was a far livelier proposition that he had bargained for when he took Randy Caballero to Monaco for their title fight and said he’s looking to build stars with significant followings.
One of them is Terence Crawford, Matt Korobov is another and he also has high hopes for Mikael Zewski, the 25-year-old who fights out of Quebec who he is already selling more than 4,000 tickets back home and who fights on the Timothy Bradley-Diego Chaves card on Saturday.
Dunkin also still has Nonito Donaire, who I’m supposed to be seeing later.
Then it was back over to the MGM Grand for the fighters’ grand arrivals.
Amir Khan, Devon Alexander and Keith Thurman, looking homeless but still a superb talker, arguably stole the show.
When asked whether he was still interested in seeing Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao, despite his own plans for Mayweather, he said: “Of course, man. Aren’t you still talking about it? Of course. Floyd would win. Styles make fights. Floyd would hit him with that right hand, Floyd throws a lot of right hands and his defence is one of the best in the sport of boxing, so with that and his counterpunching… Sometimes Manny Pacquiao is active but lately he’s been less active [in fights], he’s been tentative and just boxing smart and I believe if he tries to box smart that Mayweather will box smart and come out with a 12-round decision.”
Thurman said he plans to stay at welterweight “As long as I can”.
“We’ve yet to have a problem making weight,” he added, saying he would only move up for “a real nice paycheque with a real respectable opponent.”
He hastened to add, however, “As soon as we move up they’re going to put me in 10oz gloves and I just love eight ounces.”
Andre Berto, looking trim, has been around. He is friends with Thurman and Keith spoke fondly of their spars, which turned “One Time” from boy to man.
Today both final press conferences are staggered to take place with the fighters taking their last opportunities to talk up the fight, thank God and, for the majority of them, thank Al Haymon.