LAS VEGAS • The "will he, won't he?" doubting game continues as Floyd Mayweather prepares for what he has said will be the final fight of his boxing career while most pundits shrug their shoulders in disbelief.
The five-division world champion, nicknamed Money, will defend his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association welterweight titles against American Andre Berto in Las Vegas this morning (Singapore time).
Throughout the build-up, he has repeatedly insisted that this will be his swansong.
However, Mayweather has long been a consummate self-promoter.
The doubters can point to the American's unexpected U-turn when he came back from a 21-month retirement to fight Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in September 2009.
DON'T COUNT HIM OUT YET
As I said before: If he has to pay taxes on that US$250 million (in earnings), we are going to see him next year right back in the ring.
DANNY GARCIA, unbeaten welterweight fighter
Should Mayweather win today, as is widely expected, he would match the 49-0 record of former heavyweight great Rocky Marciano and it would seem most unlikely that he would not be tempted to return to the ring for a 50th fight.
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice-president of cable giant Showtime Sports, whose six-fight deal with Mayweather will end with the Berto bout, was initially doubtful.
THE CALL OF THE RING
I fought too many fighters, trained too many fighters, watched too many fighters not to know how many of them do come back - a year later, two years later.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER SR on his son's career
But he now believes that the American will call it quits today.
Espinoza told Sports Illustrated: "I hear the tone of his voice and the way he sounds and some of the very candid concerns he has voiced about his own health.
"I think that he's sincerely reached a point where he sort of feels like he has done everything that he needs to do in the sport."
However, unbeaten welterweight fighter Danny Garcia believes Mayweather will be back.
"I don't think it's going to be his last fight," he said. "As I said before: If he has to pay taxes on that US$250 million (S$354 million in earnings), we are going to see him next year right back in the ring."
"Floyd's a rich man and has made a lot of money. He knows what he's doing," he added.
Mayweather's trainer and father, Floyd Mayweather Sr, also expects his 38-year-old son to fight again, though he has cautioned him to make a decision for no more than six months after today's fight because of his advancing age.
"I can't say he won't quit and then come back," Mayweather Sr told the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
"I fought too many fighters, trained too many fighters, watched too many fighters not to know how many of them do come back - a year later, two years later. If my son (is) gonna fight any more, I hope he fights in five or six months."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE