LAS VEGAS (AFP) - Floyd Mayweather launched a fierce defense Wednesday of his career and decision to face Andre Berto, three days ahead of a welterweight world title fight that has failed to capture the public imagination.
The American title-holder and self-styled "TBE" (The Best Ever) goes into the bout a perfect 48-0 and will equal the record of legendary heavyweight Rocky Marciano if - as is widely expected - he sends Berto, who has lost three of his last six fights, packing.
Mayweather, 38, insists this is the last fight of his stellar career - few believe him - and he has faced criticism from fight fans who say he ducked some of the best in the weight division in cherry-picking Berto, who is a massive underdog.
Britain's Amir Khan was among a host of fighters who wanted a go at pound-for-pound king Mayweather. Mayweather's critics accuse him of attempting to drum up badly needed interest by declaring Saturday his swan song but it threatens to be a box-office flop with hundreds of tickets still widely available at the MGM Grand on Wednesday.
"Berto is not a pushover. No matter who I choose, the media will have something to say," Mayweather, the world's highest-paid sportsman, told a press conference, pointing out that Berto had twice been world champion.
"Khan has three losses, Berto has three. No matter what the media say, when it comes down to it, it is two competitors and I know what I can do.
"I can fight. When you talk about highest gates, I am that guy. Highest (television) pay-per-view, I am that guy."
He rejected talk from Virgil Hunter, Berto's respected trainer, that there was some "personal stuff" between the two fighters, who engaged in a seemingly intense faceoff after the press conference.
Mayweather, wearing green shirt and sun glasses, also defended what he called his "remarkable" 19-year career.
"I keep my eyes on the prize and never focus on the outside. I focus on the guy in front of me," added Mayweather, heralded by some as the best boxer of his generation.
"I push myself. I believe in my skills and talent," he said."I have been in there with the best and the result is always the same.
"I always had a dream and my dream was to be the best. No matter what happens on Saturday, when it comes to boxing, I am the best there is."
Both men say they will go for the big knockout and Berto (30-3, 23 KOS) said it was all about "respect."
"When it comes to the media, the critics... they are not in that gym busting their asses. They don't know the sacrifices we have to make. A few select people can do that," said Berto, 32, whose career has been knocked sideways in recent years by injury and a failed drugs test.
"There are small whispers of negativity from people that could not dare to do what we do," he added. "When it comes to fight time I am coming for my respect."