by James Matthey, News Corp
THE biggest show on the planet officially rolled into Las Vegas on Wednesday (AEST) as Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather made their grand entrances to Sin City.
A media throng fawned over the pair in sweltering heat on America's west coast as they were shown off like jewels in combat sport's crown. And it didn't take long for both men to provide some added juice to one of the most hyped events in fighting history.
Mayweather made his way in first and addressed the crowd.
"My job is to go out there and be me, I don't worry about him coming from another code. Keep my composure, I have experience at such a high level, the pressure is on him," he said.
McGregor entered as the American left and the two appeared to get in a bit of a scuffle.
"We were supposed to have a face-off then there was no face-off and I saw him and said, 'What, are you afraid of a face-off?'" McGregor said of the run-in. "Then we came forward and there was a little bit of pushing and shoving and that's it."
McGregor's trademark self-belief was evident when he had the microphone in his hand, reiterating his belief he'll put Mayweather to sleep early.
"I have been fighting my whole life, I have already whooped those faces of boxing and now I am going to whoop another," McGregor said.
"This is not even close to my toughest challenge ever. I will crumble him, I have adapted perfectly to boxing, I am very pleased and ready.
"I'm a special man, I will prove that August 26. This will go one or two rounds, maybe I will bang him out and badly hurt him, but after the 10 second count I might play with him. If he survives, I will decide whether I embarrass or seriously hurt him."
The Irishman's already caused a stir by claiming to have embarrassed retired two-time world champion Paulie Malignaggi.
Malignaggi went on a McGregor-dissing spree after the UFC star's camp released a photo of him on the ground during the pair's sparring session, telling anyone who would listen it wasn't a fair representation of the full 12 rounds between he and "scumbag" McGregor.
McGregor said it was a case of sour grapes as UFC president Dana White released footage of the 29-year-old's left hand sending Malignaggi to the canvas. The pair clearly haven't kissed and made up, getting up in each other's faces at Toshiba Plaza outside the T-Mobile Arena.
Malignaggi said: "Don't forget to bring your balls, Conor," before the southpaw replied: "You got your ass whipped."
Security separated the two but Malignaggi was desperate to have the last word, yelling at McGregor as he left the scene.
"Bring your balls Saturday (US time), p***y. Remember what I said in the gym," he said.
The former pugilist said he was actually trying to get McGregor's manager's attention rather than disrupt the fighter's day, wanting to clear the air and proclaim his innocence in regards to any non-disclosure agreement surrounding his involvement in McGregor's training camp.
"I wasn't even trying to get in Conor's way because this is a media scrum," he told reporters. "I wanted to get his manager's attention so I could say that was low, that was undignified what you guys did (releasing the photo from sparring).
"They posted pictures all over social media, the media comes rushing to me, I have to defend myself.
"It started out with that picture of him with his hands behind his back and I actually started that, I started the hands behind my back.
"How are you going to have an NDA and then constantly put up s*** that the media's going to come talk to me about? You can't pretend I talked out of my contract.
"Right now all I was trying to do was talk to his manager, take him aside from the scrum and just talk to him man to man.
"They don't talk man to man, they're a bunch of sissies."
Malignaggi may have started by wanting a word with McGregor's manager, but that doesn't mean The Notorious was going to get off scot-free as the bitter sparring partner brought up his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 last year.
"In that last sparring, he knows that I was telling him every round, I reminded him that he had no balls. As the s*** gets tougher he shows he has no balls," Malignaggi said.
"You saw what he did in the Nate Diaz fight. Who jumps in and takes the fight to the ground against a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu when your only chance to win is to stand up? Who takes the fight to the ground knowing you're going to get taken out if you go to the ground
"You've got to stand up - you might get punished for three more rounds and you might not land that big shot ... but the punishment is the risk you've got to take to win.
"Or you take the easy way out like someone with no balls would do and take the fight to the ground and get choked out. He has no balls ... he's going to fold again on Saturday, he has no balls."