Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he never had any doubts he would one day share a ring with archrival Manny Pacquiao, despite many stops and starts and numerous obstacles preventing a deal.
But not long after Mayweather made official what is expected to be the richest fight in the sport's history by signing a contract to meet the Filipino superstar May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, he told Yahoo Sports on Friday it got done because the timing is right.
"I knew eventually it would happen, but everything takes time," said Mayweather, who first entered into talks to fight Pacquiao in late 2009 for what was supposed to be an early 2010 bout. "Everything in life is about timing. I have a good team and I waited until the time was right. He waited until the time was right, and the two teams came together and we made the fight happen."
Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz told Yahoo Sports that he felt the turning point was the chance meeting the two had at an NBA game in Miami last month. Later, Mayweather went to visit Pacquiao in his hotel room to discuss the fight.
Koncz said, and Mayweather agreed, that it was the difference-maker.
"No doubt, that was a turning point," Koncz said. "I'd met Floyd many times, but that was the first time Floyd and Manny met face to face and got a chance to look eye to eye. I think it was a motivator for both sides to bend a bit more. I take my hat off and tip it to Floyd for stepping up to the plate.
"It could have been a lot worse of a negotiation. I'm not saying it was easy, but it could have been a lot more difficult. But once that meeting took place, the demeanor changed. Everything changed to the positive, and I give Floyd a lot of credit for that, I really do."
Mayweather said he felt the timing is best now because his reputation and celebrity have grown since the fight was first talked about. Now, there is speculation the fight will exceed 3 million in pay-per-view sales and an online sports book has the over-under at 3.15 million.
Mayweather said Pacquiao has grown as well and that makes for an even bigger event.
"I think the timing is right now because I'm a lot bigger status-wise than I was," he said. "Status-wise, I'm still growing, but I'm bigger than I was. And I'm pretty sure that Manny Pacquiao, he is bigger, too. I have a lot of fans and he has a lot of fans and the fans around the world have been anticipating the fight for a long time.
"Everybody was talking about it and it didn't happen, and then it started up again and it didn't happen again. They say three strikes and you're out, and I guess the third time is a charm."
Mayweather is about a 2½-to-1 favorite in Las Vegas sports books. He's 47-0 and few of his fights have even been close, and Pacquiao has long been viewed as the man with the best chance to spoil that perfect record.
Pacquiao is 57-5-2 with 38 knockouts, but one of those five losses was a brutal knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. Pacquiao seemed on the verge of finishing Marquez when he was hit square on the chin with a perfect counter right hand.
Mayweather, though, said he didn't think Marquez was necessarily about to be stopped and said he felt the Mexican star deserved more credit than he received.
Mayweather routed Marquez in a 2009 fight; Pacquiao and Marquez have fought four times, with three of them being exceptionally close. Though Mayweather, who turns 38 on Tuesday, understands that styles make fights, he said it's hard for him to accurately assess Pacquiao's abilities at this point.
"I can't tell you if he's my greatest challenge, to be honest with you, because I haven't fought him before," Mayweather said. "He's a solid guy, a very good fighter, no question a tough competitor. He wouldn't be where he's at if he weren't, and that's what makes this such an interesting matchup.
"I don't want to say he was on the verge of knocking Marquez out, though. I don't want to say that. Marquez is a very, very good counterpuncher and he came up with a great one. That's what he [does]. What I didn't like about that fight was that everyone was pointing the finger at Marquez and said he was juicing. That was unfair. Things happen in boxing and what happened, happened."
Mayweather, who was very gracious toward Pacquiao in the telephone interview with Yahoo Sports, said the loss didn't diminish Pacquiao in his eyes.
Getting knocked out is a risk both men take when they step in the ring. But he applauded Pacquiao for rebuilding himself after that defeat.
"A true champion knows how to take a loss and bounce back and overcome, and that's what Pacquiao has done," Mayweather said. "I give him full credit for that. He deserves it. He's come back and gotten some solid victories. He has his supporters, who I'm pretty sure believe he's going to beat me, and I have my supporters, who I know believe I'm going to beat him. Let's get in the ring and see who wins, who the better man is. That's what boxing is all about, and we're going to give the fans the chance to find out on May 2."
Mayweather said he is proud of his team and pointed out that he patched up his relationship with Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions. He said in September they might be growing apart, but said they talked and resolved their differences.
As a result, he said his team has a unified front going into the biggest fight of them all.
"I'll be 38 in a few days, and it's truly a blessing to be in this position and to have had a 19-year career," Mayweather said. "I really want to thank my fans. They've been with me every step of the way in these 19 years, and I couldn't have done it without the support of the fans, Leonard, [CBS Corp. CEO] Les Moonves, Showtime and everyone on my team.
"I'm all about giving the people what they want and bringing interest and excitement back to boxing."