The provocative pugilist Floyd Mayweather did what he does second best, create buzz with his mouth, on "Speaking Out," a half hour talk with respected author Michael Eric Dyson, a professor at Georgetown.
"One of the most provocative athletes of our time," Dyson described Mayweather, who gloves up against Miguel Cotto on May 5. The host of the show talked about the boxer's impending jail term, and then we saw him sitting next to the ace hitter. He started out soft, asking him about training camp. "Everything is playing out the way it should be playing out," he said. Next, Dyson went there, into the Larry "I Wish I Was 50 Years Younger" Merchant controversy.
Floyd said he and HBO have had a rich history. He said something then that I took issue with, that one shouldn't be able to comment on the sport if one hasn't been a boxer. And if one hasn't been president? And if one is a man and comments on women's issues? C'mon, man...
As I said, provocative...
Dyson asked how Floyd stays hungry. How? He is after the money and being the best, all-time, he said. "They" are talented, and "I am God gifted," he said. He noted that he gives back, and cares, because he came from a tough place, with a mother on heroin and crack and a dad who went to prison, not long after holding a young Floyd up as a shield to keep from getting shot in a beef with a family member. Floyd said his mom was on crack, and he was one of seven people in a one-bedroom apartment, with no heat or lights sometimes. He saw his dad sell his mom drugs, Floyd said, giving, perhaps, some who have been hard on him a bit of a better insight into some of his actions.
Dyson asked Floyd about not having his dad around. He said his dad was there for him, but only for the boxing part. They never went to a flick or to dinner. It's all been boxing. He said he tries to be unlike his dad, and goes to his son's football games, and doesn't want to force anything on them. "There's no hard feelings," he said, and then threw dad under a bus, telling us dad doesn't want Floyd to love his mother, because he thinks he deserve all the praise.
Floyd said he's set for the rest of his life. But he admits "there's a lot of problems." We hear about his tussle with his ex, and how his kids were there for the altercation between him and the lady. The boxer said as a boxer, there is a presumption that he'll get physical, get into fights. He said he doesn't worry about his impending incarceration. MLK, and Malcolm X also did time, and he will get through it, he said. He said he is not guilty, but he took a plea. He said he didn't want to bring his kids to court. He said he'll try and stay positive, and will stay strong.
Do people resent his success, because he's young, black and rich? "No one will ever understand my pain," he said. "I beat all odds." He admitted he told his then best pal that he wanted to get into the drug racket. Then 16, he had second thoughts. His pal didn't, and he is dead now. Heavy-duty stuff, which helps explain somewhat the boasting and such, no?
Floyd says that he says what he wants, unlike many other pro athletes. Does race shape perception of him? He said he's outspoken, as in the Jeremy Lin situation. Floyd said NBA players called him to say thank you. Dyson asked why black athletes get silenced when they talk race. Floyd said it seems like people want him to take the money, and be quiet. Dyson asked why some call him racist. He said it's because he stands behind black Americans first. It's OK for other races and nationalities, he said, but not blacks. He didn't bring up his Ustream rant versus Pacquiao, in which he used very questionable language.
Floyd said Ali stood for a cause, and that he and Ali could argue whose best. "I'm in the same shoes as Ali, they hate me when I'm at the top but once my career is they gonna really miss me," he said.
Floyd then talked money. Will he keep his money? He said he is surrounded by smart people, so the implication is yes.
Does he worry people use him? He said he sticks with old friends. Dyson said the Obamas said the same thing when they took the White House, no new friends. He and Obama sat down before he was nominated, the boxer said."Obama is truly a great guy, great guy. You know, the coolest president I ever met. He got swag."
How bout Floyd vs Barack in the ring?
"People want to know how much power Floyd Mayweather got...I can guarantee you this. I show you how much power I got, if I was to fight Manny Pacquiao, I'd let Barack Obama walk me to the ring holding my belt. Can I make it happen, absolutely."
What cut would it take to get Manny-Mayweather made? He said he offered Manny $40 million, and that Manny asked for 50-50. Manny doesn't deserve Floyd money, he said. Is it not because he lacks heart, as some say, Dyson said. He said he's happy with his career to this point. He'd like to fight Manny, but if it doesn't happen, no biggie. He cited Pacquiao's defamation suit, which I've referenced time and again on TSS, theorizing that until the suit is dropped, Floyd won't sign for the bout.
Floyd said he did call Manny and chatted. Manny, he said, asked for 50-50, and then hustled off the phone. "My offer it won't change. I'm not budging. Forty million is what you are getting. Either you take it or you leave it...Manny Pacquiao needs Floyd Mayweather, Floyd Mayweather don't need Manny Pacquiao."
Dyson brought up gambling. He said he bets some boxing, but not on himself. "I haven't bet on myself, yet," he said. Pal 50 Cent bet $300,000-400,000 the last fight wouldn't go the distance, he said.
He ended with a plug of his May 5 fight with Miguel Cotto, and said he'd retire at age 37, a little over two years from now. "I'm gone, 37 I'm gone," he said.