By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Boxing Writer
LAS VEGAS — The last time Freddie Roach was on the interstate linking Los Angeles with this boxing capital, he was written up for going 140 mph.
Roach drove a lot slower Monday as part of a colorful caravan of hundreds of cars heading down Interstate 15 with Manny Pacquiao for his showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Manny will spar on Monday for the last time and after that we’ll break camp and everyone will go to their cars and trucks,” Roach said. “The entourage used to be about 100 cars, I’d say there might be 1,000 cars this time.”
Fight week is finally here, and even in a city known for the outlandish it is shaping up to be something special. The richest fight in history has spawned $100,000 ringside tickets, hotel rooms going for $1,600 a night, and a pay-per-view price just a nickel shy of a $100 bill.
Even $10 tickets to see the two fighters at the weigh-in are running as much as $700 through online ticket brokers.
Everything is over the top for the megafight that was five years in the making. That includes the caravan that brought Pacquiao to Las Vegas, featuring hundreds of cars and a custom bus wrapped in Pacquiao’s image for some of the luckier members of his entourage.
“I might have the fastest car,” Roach said. “But if I get one more of those tickets I can’t drive anymore. I asked the police officer, why do they make these cars so fast if you can’t drive that way? I should have shut my mouth.”
Pacquiao was scheduled to arrive at the Delano Las Vegas hotel at Mandalay Bay sometime early evening Monday following seven weeks of training at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. His arrival marks the unofficial kickoff to a fight week unlike any other in a city used to hosting the biggest fights.
So far it doesn’t look like promoters underestimated the demand for the fight. The cheapest ticket on the StubHub website Sunday was $5,245, while ringside seats were being offered for as much as $106,950. Even tickets to watch on closed circuit at various MGM-owned properties in Las Vegas – which originally sold for $150 – were being offered at $620 or more online.
Everybody will pay for a fight that will likely earn Mayweather $180 million and Pacquiao $120 million. Even Roach had to shell out $70,000 for 20 tickets for family and friends, though he was able to get his at retail prices.
“My mother asked for four tickets and my mother gets whatever she wants,” Roach said. “My brothers and sister all want to go. I’m happy I can afford to buy them tickets.”
While Pacquiao will be arriving in town, Mayweather lives here and has been training at his own gym just west of the Las Vegas Strip. His promoter, Leonard Ellerbe, said Sunday that Mayweather will treat the week just like any other big fight he has been involved in.
“It’s a typical fight week, business as usual,” Ellerbe said. “Floyd is going to put on a spectacular performance, you can count on that.”
Ellerbe said he isn’t surprised by the demand for anything to do with the fight, which will smash records for biggest gate and almost surely set records for pay-per-view sales.
“Everything is out of the stratosphere,” he said. “It shows you the world wide appeal of this fight.”
Roach can be forgiven if he speeds a bit on his way to town. A seven-time winner of the trainer of the year award by the Boxing Writers of America, he said Pacquiao guaranteed him a win last week so he would win the award for an eighth time.
“This will be my biggest win ever,” Roach said. “This one really counts, it will be in the history books the rest of our lives. I think my guy is ready for it.”