LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Floyd Mayweather Jr. describes himself as a perfectionist and inside the ring the boxer known as the 'Money Man' is just that, his flawless professional record of 47-0 a monument to perfection.
But outside the arena Mayweather's pursuit of an equally accomplished life ended long ago in defeat, the gunman of his own character assassination.
Over the last decade, Mayweather has been accused of assaulting five different women on at least seven different occasions, including a 2010 incident that resulted in a 90-day prison sentence.
But it is the perfect fighter not the flawed man some boxing fans will pay over $100,000 to watch on Saturday when Mayweather steps into the ring at the MGM Grand Arena to face the soft-spoken but stone fisted Manny Pacquiao in what is expected to be the biggest grossing prize fight of all time.
"I'm a little different from everyone else," Mayweather explained to reporters. "I am only human, I make mistakes. I try to be a perfectionist but no one is perfect.
"We don't know how this fight is going to play out but I believe in my skills."
Supreme confidence and self-belief are qualities that have never been in short supply for a boxer who has not tasted defeat since a controversial loss to Bulgarian Serafim Todorov in a semi-final bout at the 1996 Olympics.
That loss so stung Mayweather that he vowed never to lose again. He immediately turned professional and 19 years later has held true to his word, capturing 11 world titles in five weight divisions and amassed a fortune that last year put him atop Forbes' annual rankings of the highest paid athletes.
Win-or-lose on Saturday, the title of the world's best paid sportsman is one Mayweather is likely to maintain with a guaranteed payday of $120 million that some predict could top $180 million, depending on pay-per-view buys.
The money will support a lavish lifestyle that includes a Las Vegas mansion, a fleet of exotic cars and a private jet that he says he will use after the fight to criss-cross the United States to watch the NBA playoffs.
The glitz of the Las Vegas Strip and Saturday's 'Fight of the Century' is the latest stop in a decades-long journey that began 38 years ago in the grit and grime of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mayweather Jr. was born into a boxing obsessed family to a drug addict mother and it was there in the rust belt that his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., who once fought Sugar Ray Leonard, would polish and hone his son's considerable boxing skills.
Over the years the Mayweather father/son, trainer/boxer relationship has been a stormy one, Floyd Sr. once using his young son as a human shield when a relative threatened to shoot him.
For all the strain and long periods of estrangement, however, the Mayweathers have so far developed an unbeatable game plan and on Saturday Floyd Sr. will be in his son's corner mapping out the strategy.
"From the beginning of my career, I've always had a game plan. It's just like chess," said Mayweather.
"We make calculated moves in the ring and outside the ring. I got with the right team and surrounded myself with the right chess pieces. I'm a lot older now, a lot wiser."
Indeed, the father of four appears to have undergone a noticeable personality change that hints at a new maturity ahead of the biggest fight of his career.
Gone, for the moment, is the brash, trash-talking Mayweather to be replaced by a reflective fighter more keenly aware of his legacy.
Now 38, Mayweather veered of topic during a pre-fight news conference to talk about the part a parent plays as a role model while declaring himself a pioneering anti-doping crusader for taking a stand against drugs and refusing fight Pacquiao until the Filipino agreed to out-of-competition blood-testing.
"Children should look up to their parents first," said Mayweather. "Parents should be the role model first before an athlete.
"We do certain things, I come out I speak loud, I have the flamboyant 'Money Mayweather' persona but that doesn't mean I hate anyone. It is all about entertainment. People want to be entertained."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)
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