Despite the length of time it took for him to get here, eight-division titlist Manny Pacquiao will finally enter the most important fight of his career.
Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) will face off against Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) on May 2 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (PPV, 9 p.m. ET) in a welterweight title unification bout that goes down as one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history.
At 36, Pacquiao has a shot at securing the unofficial title of best fighter of his era when he faces Mayweather, the reigning pound-for-pound king. The Filipino congressman recently took time away from training camp to answer the key questions heading into the fight:
How important will it be to turn into “the Manny of old” to defeat Mayweather?
“I have to be a warrior in the ring on May 2 and fight like it is the last fight of my life. I need to fight every round like each one is the last round of my life. For the past five years, this is the fight I have dreamed of and prayed for. And now that this fight is a reality, I am going to prove that it was worth the wait.
“I am in great condition now, and I will be in the same peak condition as when I fought Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto. Freddie Roach and I will be looking to add a lot of the strategy we used against De La Hoya and Cotto. It will be attack and pressure.
“The strategy is to make every round the fight. To win the fight, I must win each round. And to win each round, I must overwhelm him with speed, punch volume and power. If the opportunity to knock Floyd out presents itself, I will take advantage of it.
“I know what it will take to beat Floyd, and I will leave no doubt that I won on May 2. None. That is the ‘Manny Pacquiao’ Floyd will face on May 2. It is time for Floyd to lose.”
How important in this fight's becoming a reality was your meeting with Mayweather after the Miami Heat game?
"I thought it was a significant step because it showed me he understood the importance of making the fight, publicly and privately. But even before our meeting at the Miami Heat game and after the game, I was confident this fight would happen. I prayed for this fight to happen, and the Lord delivered him to me.
"I was an underdog in the negotiations for this fight. I have been the underdog in the wagering on this fight. I am the underdog to win the fight by the media who are covering it. The odds that this fight would happen, five years after our first negotiation, was considered a long shot. And I love it. I love it all. I love being the underdog because every time I have been the underdog in a fight I have won. [Oscar] De La Hoya, [Marco Antonio] Barrera and [Lehlo] Ledwaba were all favored to destroy me. Being the underdog inspired me in training. Winning those fights gave hope and inspiration to those who needed it. It gave proof that someone like me, born in poverty, who came from the dirt, can achieve success against all odds with hard work and prayer. Being an underdog has always spurred me on to greater heights.
"It is time for Floyd to lose. When I enter the ring on May 2, it will be no different than when David faced Goliath."
What did you learn from your pair of 2012 defeats that has made you a better fighter?
"The loss I suffered to Tim Bradley I do not consider a loss. I accept the decision of the judges because that is part of boxing, but I felt I won that fight without a doubt. When I fought Bradley in the rematch, I made sure to fight all out for the full 12 rounds. I wanted my world title belt back, and I wanted to prove I was the better fighter.
"The lesson I learned from my loss to Juan Manuel Marquez was patience. I got too overanxious for the knockout when I had Marquez hurt. Knockouts should never be forced. I had Marquez badly hurt and on the ropes. When I heard the 10-second warning to end the round, I thought I could finish him off with one last barrage of punches. I made a misstep, and Marquez caught me with a perfect right counterpunch. He was the wrong man to make that kind of mistake against!
"I have been more patient in my last three fights against Brandon Rios, Tim Bradley and Chris Algieri, and I have won almost every round of each of those fights while still giving the fans the action they have always expected from me. In my last fight, against Algieri, I had six knockdowns, and he was a runner. I think I have become a better fighter since my last loss."