By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - With tickets to his May 2 mega-fight with Manny Pacquiao set to fetch jaw-dropping prices, Floyd Mayweather felt no need to add to the hype on Wednesday, avoiding controversy with the same ease with which he evades punches.
Undefeated Mayweather even mustered up some faint praise for Pacquiao and refused to respond to taunts made by the Filipino’s trainer Freddie Roach, while offering effusive thanks to the media as he bobbed and weaved his way through a 30 minute conference without landing or taking a single blow.
With the two boxers choosing their words carefully, the biggest controversy in the buildup to what is expected to be the biggest grossing prize fight of all-time has been tickets for the bout, which have yet to go on sale.
"I don't worry about tickets, I worry about the guy in front of me," said Mayweather. "Manny Pacquiao that's my whole focus. Tickets is something I don't deal with."
About the same time Mayweather was sparring with the media reports circulated that a deal had been reached between the two fighters' camps that would see tickets go on the market later on Wednesday.
The MGM Grand is expected to pack in close to 16,500 for the fight but only about 1,000 seats will go on sale to the public with the rest going to the fighters, the casino, sponsors and promoters.
Reports have prices ranging from $1,500 in the upper level to $7,500 ringside but are expected to command an eye-popping $100,000 or more on the secondary resale market, putting them out of reach of all but the rich and famous.
The only other hint of controversy to hang over the bout came from Mayweather himself, who told ESPN in an interview that he was better than boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Asked about his statement, Mayweather refused to backtrack and instead again presented his case for being recognized as the greatest of all-time.
"Ali is a legend, I respect Ali like I respect any other champions," explained Mayweather. "I gave this sport my whole life, I feel like I've done just as much in this sport as Ali did.
"No disrespect to him.
"Ali did it in one weight class which was heavyweight, but he fought for a hell of a cause in his era.
"It's hard for a guy to beat me myself, still very sharp at the age of 38, still going strong at the age of 38 and it's no disrespect to Ali.
"I was pretty sure I would get criticized for what I said but I could care less.
"I believe what I believe. He probably got criticized at one particular time when he said he was the greatest."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)