With just over a week to go before his super fight in Las Vegas against Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather said his career and flawless record — he has never been beaten — speak for itself.
“I feel like I have done just as much in the sport as Ali,” Mayweather said.
“It is hard for a guy to be like me, still sharp at 38. No disrespect to Ali, but I feel like I am the best.”
Mayweather pointed out that while Ali lost to the unheralded Leon Spinks in 1978, among others, he has a perfect 47-0 record.
“Ali lost in his career to Leon Spinks. He lost some other fights and is still known as the greatest. That is what it is.”
Mayweather spoke to reporters Wednesday in a teleconference call for his May 2 welterweight showdown with Filipino superstar Pacquiao, which is expected to generate a record $400 million in revenue.
In addition to being the greatest, Mayweather added that even boxing fans from Pacquiao’s home country — where Pacquiao is an icon — will be cheering him on at the MGM Grand.
– Filipino support for Mayweather –
“I am pretty sure I got Filipino fans that like me,” said the American boxer, who is arguably the current number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Pacquiao is a hero and celebrity in the Philippines, where he worked on the streets before his success in the ring helped launch careers in politics, music and film.
Mayweather said he has a solid game plan for this fight and had made sure not to go overboard.
“I have trained extremely hard. You don’t want to over train. You want to train so you are completely ready,” he said.
Mayweather said he is trying not to get caught up in the hoopla surrounding the blockbuster fight which is expected to be the richest in boxing history, with Mayweather’s purse topping $100 million.
“I am not going crazy,” he said. “I know it is the biggest fight in boxing history. I can’t approach it like that. I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on myself, my thing is to just be Floyd Mayweather.
“This one is a little over the top. I just try to stay relaxed.”
Mayweather has been quieter than normal in the build up to this fight, which he said is big enough that there is no need for him to add to the hype by trash talking his opponent.
He said all the wild accusations and grandiose statements in the past, about winning one more fight then retiring, were just a way to sell tickets.
“I am at the point where I know what I bring to the table. I don’t have to do all of that.
“I did all the loud talking to get to a certain point. It was a brilliant game plan.”
He said this fight is the fulfillment of a dream — as a teenage boxer he imagined himself one day being as popular as Mike Tyson in his heyday.
“I can remember when I was just starting out. I would go to the MGM Grand for a Tyson fight and some people would know me and I would sign autographs,” Mayweather said.
“I was like ‘Man, the MGM Grand is never going to be this packed again.’ I was only 19 in 1996 but I kept believing I could do record-breaking numbers.”
As he got older, his goals became more money-focused, including earning a nine-figure purse for a fight.
“Even when I was with (promoter) Bob Arum I said I wanted to work extremely hard to get to a point in my career to be the first fighter to make nine figures in one fight.”