LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - For Floyd Mayweather Jr., it was very familiar territory as he explained why he was the best boxer of his generation during the buildup to what he says will be the final bout of his career against Andre Berto on Saturday.
The five-division world champion will put his unbeaten record on the line when he defends his WBC and WBA welterweight titles against fellow American Berto at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in his 49th fight as a professional.
“We’re back,” Mayweather told reporters, speaking softly and matter-of-factly while occasionally resorting to his brash style during a joint news conference with Berto.
”We’ve been here so many times. I know talking doesn’t win fights. I know trainers don’t win fights. It comes down to the two competitors.
“I‘m always prepared physically, I‘m always prepared mentally. We have a remarkable game plan, we have a remarkable team and I’ve had a remarkable career. I believe in my skills and I believe in my talent.”
Should Mayweather win, as is widely expected, he would match the 49-0 record of former heavyweight great Rocky Marciano and embellish a boxing legacy that he feels owes much to his superior mental strength in the ring.
“I’ve been in there with the best and the results are always the same,” said the 38-year-old from Grand Rapids in Michigan who is nicknamed ‘Money’ because of his flamboyant showmanship and extravagant lifestyle.
”You’ve got fighters that may be faster than me, you’ve got fighters that may hit harder than me, you’ve got fighters that are very athletic but you don’t have no fighter that can make adjustments like me.
“You don’t have fighters that can be on another level mentally. I keep my eyes on the prize. I never focus on things outside the ring. My focus is on the guy that’s in front of me. And I know what I can do.”
Mayweather, the self-proclaimed ‘TBE’ (The Best Ever), will be fighting for the first time since he beat Manny Pacquiao four months ago in boxing’s richest ever bout and has been criticized in some quarters for his choice of Berto as an opponent.
Though Berto is a twice former welterweight world champion, the 32-year-old from Winter Haven in Florida will enter the ring as a 20-1 underdog after losing three of his last six fights.
“No matter who I chose, the critics were going to have something to say,” said Mayweather. “He’s a two-time world champion so it’s obvious he did something right.”
Berto, who arrived at the news conference wearing a black hooded tracksuit and sunglasses, spoke briefly when he stepped up to the podium and reserved most of that for the media.“It’s funny but when it comes to the media ... they’re not in that gym pushing their arse and knowing the feeling of being a fighter,” said the American, whose 30-3 record includes 23 knockouts.
”They don’t know the miles that we run, they don’t know the punishment that we take in the gym, they don’t know the sacrifices that we have to make to become a world champion.
“It’s a small, selected few that can do that ... so anybody that steps into the ring, I have to respect. But at the end of the day, when it comes to Saturday night, when it comes to fight time, I‘m coming for my respect.”
Editing by Frank Pingue