Floyd Mayweather has always looked to me like he could carry of the "Pretty Boy Floyd" nickname. He turns 35 in February, but until recently, he had something of a baby face. He'd summon that high wattage smile, flash the gleaming choppers, his unlined eyes beaming, sending out a message of: Who me, worry?
But looking at Floyd in New York yesterday, at the press conference to hype his Sept. 17 showdown with Victor Ortiz, I saw a man who has aged a couple years in the last year or so. Now, Floyd basically looks his age.
When not beaming, when not animately discussing his showdown against the powerful but somewhat defensively suspect Ortiz, you could see little bags under Floyd's eyes.
I know bags, being the father to two girls, aged 4 and nine months. Sleep deprivation will do that.
I'm not busting on Floyd, not trying to make too much of the matter. Lord knows, with all he's got on his plate, the man is allowed a few more lines on his mug, a few sessions of laying his head on his pillow, worrying if it's all going to come crashing down on him.
I wrote a column for ESPN New York on the presser yesterday (http://es.pn/jUG6tz), and was proud to include some analysis from ace attorney Keith Sullivan, who is a contributor to MSNBC, and Fox News. He puts into sharper detail some of the woes that have weathered Floyd somewhat.
"Currently, Floyd has more legal problems than a boxing gym has gloves," Sullivan said.
"On the home front, he has a domestic violence charge pending, for the alleged assault on his ex. This case won't hit the Courts until after the Ortiz fight. However, he is looking at 4 felony charges.
He also has two pending misdemeanor assault cases involving security guards at his housing complex. One of the two is scheduled for trial on Sept. 1. His attorneys are likely to get this matter adjourned until after the fight.
Manny seems poised to score a knockout victory against Floyd in the Federal defamation suit. Mayweather violated the judges Order to appear for a deposition in mid-June. Disobeying any judge is never good, but particularly a Federal Judge. Manny's lawyer will likely seek a default judgment against Floyd. If the two ever fight, Manny may be able to walk with BOTH purses to satisfy the judgment!
Allegedly, the IRS is also back looking for more outstanding taxes.
Lastly, Las Vegas media is reporting that Floyd is being sued for assault over having allegedly ordered his bodyguards to rough up a fan who asked Floyd why he was ducking Manny. Criminal charges were not brought.
The most serious legal problem is the felony domestic violence charges. This case is set for trial 2 weeks before the Ortiz fight. While Floyd is one of the most focused fighters, mounting legal problems have an impact on a person, especially when jail is a possible outcome. I suspect his legal team will do everything in their power to show the Court that Floyd is contrite and willing to partake in anger-management programs and community service as punishment. This case hinges almost entirely on his exes willingness to testify against him. Doing so, may not be in the best interest of their children's financial future- sadly, for her economics may play a role in deciding if she wants to cooperate.
I'm glad to see Floyd getting back in the ring. He needs to focus and get stability back in his life. Hopefully he finds it through boxing. I also hope he has his lawyers on speed dial as his legal issues seem to grow faster than his bank account. He can run, slip, duck, bob & weave away from fighters, but the law is said to have a "long-arm" for a reason, it always catches up to you."
I asked Floyd if that legal stuff distracted him, and he said no, everyone has to go through stuff in life. He switched gears, to blame the media for focusing on the negative stuff. I asked if people target him, as they did Mike Tyson back in the day. "I don't really know," he said, choosing his words carefully, and then added that there has been one instance of someone who accused him of assault that didn't even get touched.
In NY, Floyd was Floyd. He was his charismatic self, showing all the characteristics that make him a must see entertainer. He bragged, he showed humility, he thanked God, he told us how much he loved his kids--who were with him--and his mom, he praised Ortiz, he told us he didn't accuse Pacquiao of using steroids, and then deftly implied that Manny has used illegal performance enhancers to become a star midway through his career, something Mayweather said just doesn't happen. I had to tip my hat to him, when he thanked guys like me, who often are not fans of his conduct, for keeping him "relevant."
He said, again, that he would like to fight Manny Pacquiao, if Manny accedes to his demands to testing protocol. That's actually not news, for the record. He then blamed the media for pushing the fight further away, by accusing him of being a coward. "Why the world want to see a coward, someone that's scared fight, me myself personally, I don't want to see a coward fight," he said. I call BS on that front; we may have power to push buttons, to influence the conversation, but we darn well don't have the power to make or break Mayweather-Pacquiao. If we do, then I'd say we are underpaid.
Again, this was Floyd being Floyd. At times showing a softer side, making sense, then mixing in material that doesn't pass the sniff test, doesn't meet my definition as being totally logical. He is the most compelling personality in the sport, among the most compelling in all of sports, and I actually appreciate him more and more as the years pass. I think I've come to identify with him more than I used to, I suppose, and often look past the bragging, and see the sadness, the insecurity. Hey, my four year old does silly things, sometimes infuriates me, but I am over-the-moon fond of her....
I asked Floyd why he didn't fight more often; seeing as how he is a compelling character and makes my job easier, I'd like it, and so would has fans. He said it takes a long period of time to build a pay per view fight. I also asked him if he was liking the sport, a couple years after he took time off because he was burnt out. He didn't say he loved or liked boxing, but did say he was entitled to some time off. Fair enough.
Then Floyd said he had nothing bad to say about Bob Arum, a half hour after busting on Bob for his involvement in the 199 IBF/Bob Lee bribery scandal.
Floyd being Floyd. You can either shake your head in disgust, or marvel at the chutzpah.
"I'm older, I'm wiser, the only thing I want is the best for my children, that's all I want, I want the best for my babies," he told us, and I wanted to believe him.
He talked the talk and walked it in that regard, when he told us he'll be happy to get his just due down the line, when a new batch of writers come on the scene.
In closing: I hope Floyd irons out the legal stuff. I hope he enjoys unity within his family, and is able to bond like he wants to with his kids. I hope we see him fighting more often. He's good for boxing, and as a character, he's entertaining, if sometimes in a semi infuriating way.
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?