Pacquiao takes road to greatness

HOLLYWOOD - This chase for greatness has begun with one final push across state lines.

His quest to cement his boxing legacy less than a week away, Manny Pacquiao was to roll out to Las Vegas in style Monday afternoon (Tuesday in Manila) for the final phase of his bid to put a blot on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s undefeated record in what has been billed as boxing's most important fight in decades.

"He's 100 per cent ready," his trainer Freddie Roach said after a recent training session.

Pacquiao led a large convoy of nearly 100 vehicles in a 435-km trip to Nevada's gambling haven. There, he and Mayweather will clash on May 2 (May 3 in Manila) at MGM Grand's Garden Arena to settle the lingering riddle: Who is the best pound-for-pound boxer of this generation?

Watch out for the left

Mayweather has said he is "The Best Ever" in the sport's history. Roach, speaking for the Bible-quoting Pacquiao, swears the Filipino ring icon will destroy the American star's legacy.

"If we catch him with a good left, it's over," Roach said.

Pacquiao is in the final stages of tapering off for the fight. Roach and conditioning coach Justin Fortune don't want him to hit peak form until fight night and thus have a lean workout schedule for the eight-division champion.

Pacquiao will have light training on Tuesday and Wednesday. He will have Thursday off since his corner is pretty sure he'll already be within the 147-lb welterweight limit by that time.

Supremely high stakes

"Friday will be the weigh-in and Saturday will be fight night. That's about it," said Roach.

As nonchalant as that may sound, the stakes are supremely high for the two boxers, regarded as the best of their era.

The fight, already the richest in boxing history, is being touted to eclipse some of the classic bouts as far as its importance to the sport is concerned.

Very little has been done, in fact, to promote a fight that people have been clamoring for in the last five years.

"It's already the biggest fight in the world," Roach said. "I don't think that by the time we get to Vegas, there will be people who don't know there's a fight happening."

2-1 odds for Floyd

Pacquiao will carry into Las Vegas a 57-win, 5-loss, 2-draw slate spiked by 38 knockouts. But it is Mayweather's record that people will be talking about the most.

The Las Vegas-based boxer is 47-0 (26 knockouts) and hopes to finish an illustrious career undefeated, with Pacquiao being groomed as the one man who can thwart those dreams.

"Put him in the ring in front of me and I'll beat him," Mayweather vowed in a recent television interview.

The welterweight champion is a 2-1 favourite so far with less than a week before bookmakers close the betting lines in the neon-draped gambling strip.

God and countryman

If the odds hold, Pacquiao will be fighting as an underdog for the first time since welding legend Oscar De La Hoya to his stool in 2008.

Part of Pacquiao's entourage of vehicles, which will make a traditional stop at nearby Barstow, is the bus that will ferry members of his team and some journalists.

The bus was unveiled Saturday afternoon featuring a menacing Pacquiao on the front and back and another image of him on the sides with the Philippine flag close by.