By: Marc Livitz: For the second time in exactly five years, pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will have the opportunity to once again seize a title in the super welterweight division. The undoubted leader in Pay-Per-View numbers and overall sales accomplished the previously mentioned feat on May 5, 2007 when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in the richest bout in boxing history. In ten days’ time, Mayweather (42(26)-0) will face off against Miguel Cotto (37(30)-2(2)) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Also up for the taking is the the vacant WBC Super Welterweight Diamond belt. Fresh off his media day workout in his hometown of Las Vegas, Floyd participated in an international conference call this afternoon to discuss his upcoming mega fight. Mayweather was his usually refreshing and cordial self. He will always be the first to admit that his “Money” persona is precisely what feeds the demands of the sporting public and drives up the figures when comes to monetary success for the pay TV industry as well as himself. Floyd began the call by stating that he intends to dedicate his upcoming bout to the memory of the mother of his friend and confidant, Leonard Ellerbe. The CEO of Mayweather Promotions recently suffered a personal loss when his mother passed away.
There can be no confusion when it comes to Floyd’s “larger than life” image. Likewise, his recent legal problems are the type of interference which could hinder a fighter’s preparation. Mayweather is scheduled to begin a ninety day jail term on June 1 as part of a plea bargain he accepted in the case brought against him by the mother of three of his children. He assured those on the phone that he has consistently remained focused.
“Yes, of course. Certain obstacles will get in your way throughout your career. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, but I’ve always put boxing first and given my best effort.”
Floyd stressed that his bouts are more than just fights. In fact, said Mayweather they’re spectacles and worldwide events. His recent contests have been separated by lengthy periods of inactivity within in the ring. May 5 will witness just his fourth fight in over two years after a 21 month layoff following his knockout victory over England’s Ricky Hatton in December 2007. Despite all of this, “Money” stated that he felt the shorter sojourn away from boxing will only help to sharpen his abilities in the squared circle. He last fought in September 2011 against Victor Ortiz. Furthermore, he indicated that he had every intention to fight once more before the close of 2012 and that his upcoming jail stint will not burden his future plans.
Said Mayweather, “Yes, absolutely, just like anyone who is always out there and always practicing. Just like the guy who likes to shoot three pointers. The one who stays active usually has the advantage. I’ve been boxing with a lot of strong, young guys in training camp and I’m not taking any punishment. I should be sharper for this fight than I was versus (Victor) Ortiz. I’d like to fight more often, but fights like this take four to six months or longer to build up. At this level, it’s a sport as well as a business. I want to fight again in 2012 and continue to push myself past the limits. I try to turn the negatives into positives. All this will do is make me mentally stronger.”
Mayweather’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past five years, not only due to his efforts in the ring, but also much in part to his role in HBO’s documentary series, “24/7”, which chronicles the everyday comings and goings of the two main fighters for the preceding month before the bell rings. This past Saturday evening, episode two of “24/7” was followed by an interview segment entitled, “Floyd Mayweather Speaking Out”. The Grand Rapids, Michigan fighter sat down with respected author Eric Dyson. The undefeated future hall of famer felt that he needed to do this to let people into another side of his life.
“ I think the (Eric) Dyson show was marvelous. I wanted people to see how articulate I am and that I’m not just a flashy hothead with a lot of money. It should also help the Pay-Per-View buys. Even non-boxing fans will tune in to watch, so I don’t mind telling my story to the world. I make business decisions but I also feel that it’s right to give back to the community. I keep that quiet. On 24/7, we don’t always talk about those things, because it doesn’t count as entertainment for many people. They’d rather see me with the money, houses and cars.”
Although Mayweather can rightfully claim that he has faced the “Who’s Who” of boxing, when asked of his most difficult opponent, his answer may have surprised some. His opinion of Miguel Cotto was one that needed to wait a bit longer. Said Floyd, “If I rate all the guys I’ve faced, then I would put Emanuel Augustus first (this fight took place in October of 2000). I had just come off a layoff and I was fighting around 130. As far as Cotto, I have to say can’t rate someone that I’ve never faced.”
The Las Vegas resident is a father of four children and he believes in working hard so that he can give them the life that he never had. He also holds no ill will toward the judge who sentenced him to jail time. “I’m always in a great state of mind. I’m able to give my children the education that I didn’t have. I try not to think of the negative things. In training camp, as you see we are having fun. The judge who sentenced me is a great lady and I have nothing against her. She was just doing her job.”, he stated.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. may hold the distinction of having just as many detractors as passionate supporters. The decrying, heckling and the like do not sway his eyes from the prize.
“When I go into an arena, if they’re cheering, then it’s a great thing. If they boo, that’s a great thing, too. I’m relevant. That means they know who I am. They have been paying attention to me. I would only worry about it if there was no noise at all.”
The prospect of a showdown between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was put on hold once again when each boxer signed contracts to face a different foe. Pacquiao will fight the undefeated light welterweight champion, Timothy Bradley on June 9 in Las Vegas. One of the major sticking points was always Floyd’s insistence for the use of Olympic style random drug testing. He feels this to be a necessary step to be taken if boxing is to flourish when his time in the sport is up.
“Timothy Bradley is a good, young boxer. I don’t think it will be an easy task for Manny Pacquiao. I’m the face of the sport and I have changed the sport of boxing. I’m why they don’t talk about the heavyweights anymore. I should be trying to change the sport and make it safer. Everyone should be on an even playing field. Manny has done a lot in the sport, but he should be standing with me on this. All fighters should be able to go into a fight and feel comfortable knowing that the other guy is fighting fair. Money is not more important than my health.”
Mayweather’s opponent, Miguel Cotto hails from the boxing-crazed island nation of Puerto Rico. In 1999, Puerto Rican native Felix “Tito” Trinidad pulled off one of boxing’s best known surprise upsets when he beat the then-undefeated face of boxing, Oscar De La Hoya by majority decision. Floyd knows how important his fight on May 5 is to the residents of the commonwealth.
“(Felix) Trinidad was a great fighter, boxer and puncher. He kept Puerto Rico on the map and kept boxing alive there. He eventually handed that responsibility to Miguel Cotto. I bet money on Trinidad when he fought De La Hoya. I’m glad I won money, but I don’t think he won the fight. I love my Puerto Rican fanbase and thank them for their support.”
His personal opinion of Cotto is a nice one indeed. Stated Floyd, “I respect him as a man. Always. He has a beautiful family. I don’t really know him, but he seems like a cool guy. He’ll have to make me respect his skills on the (May) 5th.”
“Money” Mayweather understands that his time within the sport of boxing is much closer to an end than any new beginning. He has stated on multiple occasions that he loses no sleep over the fact that he has yet to face, or may never face Manny Pacquiao. The matchup would be predicted to break all records. Floyd never forgets, however that professional prize fighting is a business first.
“I don’t worry about that at all (facing Pacquiao). I have faced forty two guys and then suddenly a guy comes out of nowhere and everyone says that I have to fight him to still be considered the best. Just tune in May 5th. I can’t say how this will turn out, but I know that I always like a tough test. This is a business. Oscar knows he didn’t beat me. Pacquiao knows that he didn’t beat (Juan Manuel) Marquez, but if Pacquiao didn’t get his hand raised, then Pacquiao versus Mayweather would have gone down the drain. It’s about money. Always.”
April 26, 2012