Los Angeles: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali isn't in the prediction business when it comes to the May 2 mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Boxers Manny Pacquiao (right) and Floyd Mayweather during a press conference in Los Angeles last month. Pic/AFP. Inset: Muhammad Ali
A report on celebrity website TMZ this week quoted Ali's daughter, Rasheda, as saying the former heavyweight world champion and civil rights activist "is Team Pacquiao all the way. He knows Manny's a great fighter... but it's more about what he does outside the ring. He's such a charitable person," the website quoted her as saying.
On Thursday, however, a statement from an Ali publicist posted on the Muhammad Ali Center website denied that the champ was backing either fighter. "Muhammad Ali would like to wish both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao well in their upcoming fight on May 2," the statement said.
"Muhammad never offered to anyone his prediction on the fight. Information that was published earlier this week and picked up by other media is either a misquote or someone else's personal opinion.
"The stories saying that Muhammad Ali has chosen a favorite in the fight are false." Ali, who turned 73 in January and has battled the effects of Parkinson's disease for decades, hasn't attended a fight in years.
He isn't expected to be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2 when Pacquiao and Mayweather meet in a welterweight world title fight. Pacquiao, a two-term congressman from Sarangani province in the Philippines, is 57-5 with two drawn and 38 knockouts while Mayweather is 47-0 with 26 knockouts.
The fight long wanted by fans around the world has been five years in the making, and is expected to shatter revenue records. "Muhammad has the utmost respect for both fighters who will undoubtedly give boxing fans an incredible match," the statement said.
"He believes the significance of this fight will rival other historic matches. Muhammad will join the rest of the world to watch this match-up."