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Manny Pacquiao says 'killer instinct' is back for fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, left, and WBO

WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, left, and WBO President Francisco 'Paco' Valcarcel hold the WBO championship belts during a news conference at the KA Theatre at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on April 29, 2015 in Las Vegas. Credit: Getty Images / John Gurzinski

LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. says everything he does in and out of the ring is calculated. So, maybe the low-key persona he's adopted before his welterweight title fight against Manny Pacquiao is all part of his larger game plan.

But Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach doesn't buy it. In his view, Mayweather's altered state from his usual trash-talking self is another sign he really didn't want this fight. There's no mistaking that Pacquiao is the one who has projected the greatest sense of eagerness to hear the first bell at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

His enthusiasm was on display again Wednesday in a meeting with writers before the final news conference. "Yes, I feel I'm the one who really wants this fight to happen," Pacquiao said. "The fans also really want to see this fight. It's a good thing that it's happening now. I believe that it is God's plan."

Much of the emphasis from Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) has been on his Christian awakening and how he wants to inspire people with his rags-to-riches story of a starving boy sleeping in the streets in the Philippines who now commands the world stage against the great Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs).

But a fighter who hasn't stopped any of his past nine opponents and often has seemed distracted by other undertakings, including his work as a congressman, also claims to have been rejuvenated for this fight.

"I'm so happy because the feeling and the killer instinct and the focus that I have from 10 or 11 years ago is back," Pacquiao said with genuine excitement. "A couple fights I have in my career, I never feel like this. But now, it's different. I have nothing to worry about. I'm 100 percent relaxed and confident."

Ask him why he lost that killer instinct, and Pacquiao has trouble explaining it, but it's real to him. "My interest of this fight, my love for this fight, my eagerness for this fight is to show something, especially since I'm an underdog," Pacquiao said. "Every time I'm an underdog in a fight that feeling is kind of different. It's back, absolutely."

Roach, who has had a long rivalry with Mayweather, said he was struck at the original news conference to announce the fight in February that Mayweather didn't respond when he said Pacquiao would kick his rear end.

"His speech was very subdued and very low-key," Roach said. "I'm driving home, and I'm saying to myself, 'I'm not sure he's going to show up.' He was forced into this fight. I don't think it's a fight he wants to be in. He gets to pick and choose his opponents, but he didn't get to pick and choose this one because a CBS company, Showtime, was losing money with this [six-fight Mayweather] deal."

The reason Mayweather ultimately took the fight, Roach said, was to please his business partners and allow Showtime to profit from their deal. In fact, Mayweather has said this fight is nothing more than business to him.

Asked Wednesday why he has toned down his act for this fight, Mayweather said, "Me speaking loud, I did that in the past. I'm older now. This fight sells itself."

Maybe it's all a ruse, a setup to lure Pacquiao into a reckless fight. But maybe Mayweather is not quite sure what to expect from this reborn Pacquiao with the fighting spirit of the underdog and the conviction that he is exactly where he wants to be.

"I can't explain, but my feeling is that I'm more relaxed compared to my other fights," Pacquiao said. "I thank the Lord my God. I am serving, and He is feeding me peace of mind."

New York Sports