Saturday, February 10, 2007


There were ten or fifteen reporters hovering around him and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was holding court. As usual, Floyd did most of the talking, and most of it was about his favorite subject, which of course is himself. Oscar De La Hoya had just smashed Ricardo Mayorga like a pinata and now the “Pretty Boy” was making a case to anyone listening that he should be the next one to face “The Golden Boy”.

Most everyone that flooded the aisles at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on this night were impressed with Oscar’s knockout performance. But, as usual, Floyd saw things differently; “Ricardo Mayorga is a bum. I'd blow him out of the water like my fists was torpedoes.”

Diminutive in stature, “Little Floyd”, as Floyd, Sr. calls him, possesses a heavyweight ego. “I’m a living legend. Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali were the best of their time. I’m the best in my time.”

Spend a little time around “Pretty Boy” and you soon get the sense that this is Floyd’s world, and everybody else is just living in it.

After ten years of punching for pay, few opponents have laid a glove on him in combination. He’s grown into his role as the pound-for-pound best in boxing and the smartest fighter there is. And if you don’t believe that, just ask him - he’ll let you know: “You have to realize that most of these guys get in there and fight on heart. I fight with smarts. There is no fighter that is smarter than me. Most of these fighters are ABC, 1-2-3. I’m like 4-5-6 levels above them, that’s why I’m able to beat them.”

In the world according to Floyd, “I’m the only fighter that keeps it real. Anything I say is real. I am never fake.”

By all accounts, 2006 is a great time to be a welterweight and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is sitting in the cat bird seat. He has the unique opportunity to go on a run of facing several high-profile opponents in a string of multi-million dollar extravaganzas that might just bring boxing back from the dead. Quite simply, Mayweather has a chance to face a line-up of fighters that could propel him into another stratosphere as a prizefighter, as an athlete and as a taxpayer.

Perhaps no fighter since Sugar Ray Robinson has been as obsessed with the economics and the bottom line of the business side of boxing as Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Robinson was known as an impassable negotiator and often reneged on signed contracts the day before a fight unless his paycheck was increased. Floyd once called the twelve million dollars that HBO offered him several years ago, “A slave contract.” Asked how much of the purse pie he would need to make the De La Hoya fight a reality, Floyd angrily barked, “I don’t come up into your job asking you what you make! Don’t come up into mine asking me what I make.”

Mayweather is in such a comfortable financial position that he recently bought out his promotional contract from promoter Bob Arum for three-quarters of a million dollars cash - and then promptly turned down heavyweight money - a guaranteed eight million dollar pay-day to face Arum’s dangerous, yet painfully anonymous welterweight charge Antonio Margarito. It was a perplexing move, at least as far as fans and the media could see. Many took to calling him “Fraud” Mayweather for his reluctance to sign on the dotted line against Margarito, but Floyd is philosophically simple when he chooses which opponent to face and when. “If it makes dollars, it makes sense,” he says.

In the squared circle, the 29 year-old Mayweather has few peers and he is most often compared to Sugar Ray Leonard. Even Leonard himself agrees with the similarities, “Of all the fighters today I have to say that Mayweather reminds me the most of me.” Like Leonard, Mayweather is a master boxer with striking good looks, an ivory smile and mahogany eyes. He has the ability to mesmerize opponents with a brilliant blend of speed, power and reflexes that can make even the most malignant opponent appear mortal. He’s faced and beaten eleven former world champions and has held one title or another in one division or another from 130-147 pounds for the past eight years - straight.

With a record of 36-0 (24)KO, there are few that doubt he’s one of the best we’ve seen in a generation. Only Roy Jones, Jr. comes as close and when asked if he’s better than Jones, Mayweather responds with a high degree of incredulity, “Of course I'm better than Roy Jones. Why would you even ask that?”

Sugar Ray Leonard had Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler that all helped him frame a legendary career that will endure for eternity. While Mayweather’s list of potential future foes is not held in the regard that Leonard’s were, he still has Carlos Baldomir from Argentina, Ricky Hatton from Manchester, England, Miguel Cotto from Puerto Rico, Antonio Margarito from Mexico as well as California’s Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya. Those opponents could amass Mayweather untold millions in purses and they would all help him to etch his name in stone forever at Canastota, particularly if he beats them all like he says he can.

Should Mayweather line up and defeat that murderers row of sluggers he could go down in the history books as better than Leonard, certainly up there with Muhammad Ali and perhaps even next to Robinson. The opposition is strong, it’s available and they are solid to exceptional opponents with the names and championship belts to prove it.

This confluence of marquee talent that currently weigh 147 pounds or thereabouts has rarely been seen atop any division at any one time at any point in boxing history. They would make for compelling fights that would capture the imagination of fans from London to Las Vegas, L.A. to Santa Fe, Patagonia to Puerto Rico and Mexico to Michigan. It truly could become Floyd’s world.

On deck next is undisputed welterweight slugger Carlos Baldomir from Santa Fe, Argentina who has blasted back-to-back home runs against Zab Judah and Arturo Gatti. Floyd says he’s going to make eight million and one dollars for the Baldomir fight, which is a buck more than Arum guaranteed him to fight Margarito. Baldomir is a barrel-chested, head first, tricky little man-at-arms who will make Floyd earn the extra dollar. But not many see this as a serious contest, least of all Floyd. “Right now…I feel great,” he says. But the kid that’s going to beat Floyd Mayweather, Jr. hasn’t even been born yet.”

Didn’t he tell you? This is Floyd’s world – you’re just living in it.

August 2006

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