Here’s a side to Floyd. Talking to Al Bernstein of The Boxing Channel, Mayweather is charming, a gracious and almost humble sportsman. (Hogan)
Most prizefighters have many faces and personas, much like Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who lives in the glitzy neon world of Las Vegas and epitomizes its night life and glamour, does.
In the day time he’s the same old blue collar Mayweather, a representative of his urban Michigan roots.
Fifteen years have passed since I first saw Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) exchange punches as a professional and already he was known as a sure thing. On Saturday the sure thing will look to maintain that reputation when he fights WBC welterweight titleholder Vicious Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I feel I have the remedy to know how to win, whether it goes the distance or a knockout,” Mayweather says.
A prizefighter knows when he’s at the top if by simply mentioning his name an all-out debate erupts on his worth.
From the very first time I met Mayweather back in the mid-90s at the Big Bear Boxing and Fitness Club, the flash and style were already prevalent. During that first meeting Mayweather performed several gymnastic-like moves on the chin up bars and showed off his strength. Even then he looked like he was an exceptional athlete.
The first time I saw him perform professionally in the ring he dissected a fighter at the Thomas and Mack then later did it again to another in the legendary Olympic Auditorium. The fights lasted a mere round and whoever it was Mayweather trounced, I doubt if they were ready for the lightning onslaught.
When he met WBC junior lightweight world champion Genaro Hernandez, only one other fighter had beaten the South-Central prizefighter and that was East L.A.’s Oscar De La Hoya. It figured that Mayweather was reaching too far and too fast.
“I knew he was going to lose that fight,” said Rudy Hernandez, the brother and trainer of Genaro Hernandez. “My brother couldn’t match his speed.”
Mayweather shows another face when he talks about the late fighter “Chicanito”. It’s the sincere and melancholy man who remembers the day he was granted a shot at the world title.
“He didn’t have to fight me, but that was Chicanito and I will forever be thankful,” said Mayweather. “It was my first opportunity to fight for the world title.”
When Hernandez suffered a relapse from cancer Mayweather called to find out if he could be of any help to his former foe. It was a great gesture and Mayweather did contribute to Hernandez’s costs. The Southern Californian died earlier this year and Mayweather contributed toward the burial. Numbers were not revealed but that wasn’t important. What was especially significant was that he did show concern for his old foe.
It’s something that many will never forget.
Personally, Mayweather once helped me when I and several other reporters were stranded at a dance studio. He was preparing for Dancing With the Stars and several reporters and I were driven in a limo to watch him practice. While we were watching the limo driver departed without a word. I asked Mayweather if someone in his camp could give us a ride and he immediately called one of his guys to take his white SUV and drive us to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He didn’t hesitate.
Of course Mayweather could be brash too.
Back in 1999, I was covering a fight between Sugar Shane Mosley and Willie Wise at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas. After the fight I was invited by the Mosley family to attend the post fight victory party. As I entered the hall there was Shane Mosley sitting at a table signing autographs when Mayweather brashly approached the table and barked, “When are you going to fight me?”
“Whenever you want to,” answered Mosley.
Back and forth they went a few more times but nothing came of it. It would take more than a decade for them to finally meet.
That’s Mayweather for you.
He never felt he was anything but a star and argued with his promoters about building up his fights. Mayweather always felt he didn’t get promoted properly until he met De La Hoya in 2007.
The victory over the “Golden Boy” catapulted the fighter known today as “Money” Mayweather into superstardom. He made millions and when he retired briefly he still made millions as a pro wrestler. Then he returned and made millions more. Money is an appropriate nickname for Mayweather now.
Yes, there are many fighters with multiple personalities like Mayweather. But few can grab the public with antics that might seem corny to others but so very real when it comes to Mayweather.
The father and son feud is real but it’s not about hating each other. It’s simply their way and the public is captivated.
Inside the boxing ring is another persona altogether.