MONEY BOMAYE ? – Muhammad Ali heard the since iconic chants from African fans in Zaire. It appears that Floyd Mayweather Jr. enjoyed a similarly meaningful chorus in Johannesburg last week from this generation’s sports fans, even though the most pronounced repetition came from his own “Hard Work, Dedication” team. A beaming Mayweather appeared in typical prime condition and proved worthy of the distinction, representing himself, his brand, and his country with class and charisma. He certainly wasn’t shy in accepting his well earned accolades. “It took 36 years, but I’m here,” announced Mayweather after touching down on the great continent. “I just don’t represent the red, white and blue, I represent all of humanity. I look forward to coming back and fighting. I’ve been getting some awesome offers, hopefully it can happen someday.”
“Ali was the greatest,” Mayweather told the press, before taking another opportunity to expand The Money Team brand. “I’m TBE. The best ever. I didn’t give the sport my whole life to say there’s another fighter better than me. First off, I wanna thank my team because without them all this wouldn’t be possible.” The SA media ate it up at a “press briefing” that played more like a fan club convention. “This should have happened long ago. It is great to host you while you are still a champ, because we do not host mediocrity, we only host champions,” said Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula upon Mayweather’s arrival, drawing a wide and constant grin from his guest. “We will roll out the red carpet for you, for the rest to see, because humanity has given you to us. You no longer belong to America (only). Our kids look up to you. The people that you see here do not sleep when you fight.”
Reporter Sifiso Ramara of SABC News summed up Mayweather’s impact thusly, “In the past we’ve hosted the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, but one should say it doesn’t get bigger and better than this.” Of course, the subject of a Manny Pacquiao fight came up immediately. Mayweather addressed the current situation, and Pacquiao’s recent comments about pursuing a fight. “He’s really saying ‘Floyd, can you help me solve my tax problems, get me out of debt?” offered Mayweather with minimal mockery. It’s not unrealistic to consider the truth in that.
Mayweather praised South African Phillip Ndou, against whom he scored a 7th round stoppage while defending the WBC lightweight belt in 2003, and was complimentary as he assessed the sport in general, offering a revealing personal preference.“There’s a lot of great fighters out there. You guys had Azumah Nelson. At one time I thought we were gonna fight. I admire what a lot of fighters, and entertainers, have done. I’m thankful to those that paved the way. A lot of fighters are looking to be known as the best. I just want to be known as the smartest fighter, as far as businesswise, outside the ring.” As a corporate executive, Mayweather achieved a substantial PR boost, indeed.
According to SA media and the Sports Ministry, Mayweather covered his own travel expenses after scheduling conflicts kept him from attending a ceremony he was invited to last year. Maybe karma is paying off already. As for the future, Mayweather declared that he’d know in a week or so whether his next opponent is Amir Khan or someone else. Unless it’s a smokescreen, there could be some maneuvering that gives Marcos Maidana the call. Don’t be shocked if that occurs, or if a brave, strong, but quickly exposed Maidana falls by Mayweather TKO. Just as Maidana may accomplish much less effective aggression than hoped for, Khan could well defensively outperform relatively low predictions about his chances. Either way, anybody who bets against Mayweather these days looks crazy.
Mayweather demonstrated additional business savvy simply by mentioning a significant, yet often neglected partner during discussions on his future. “Don’t forget CBS,” reminded Mayweather. “Everybody always talks about Showtime, but I’m with both companies.” As for that future, Mayweather said, “Four more and I’m through. September 2015 will be my last fight.” Pac-man was a flag left to dangle in the Capetown breeze.
Still, Mayweather impressed with dignified restraint during interviews and press briefings, giving thoughtful responses to a press gatherings that apparently worshipped him but asked few softball questions. When topics like Pacquiao or Bob Arum came up, Mayweather remained diplomatic and respectful.
After an apparent “they’re all the same to me” slight in forgetting former rival Saul Alvarez’s name, Mayweather gave the Mexican star serious, solitary props, saying, “Canelo is a solid competitor and he’s one guy that will be the future of boxing.” When asked about potentially intriguing opponents like Bernard Hopkins or Gennady Golovkin, Mayweather gave The Alien faint praise and didn’t even acknowledge GGG. “Bernard Hopkins has done a lot, but I don’t think he has a voice or the will to win like me. But I take my hat off to the guy.” Mayweather didn’t reveal any secrets or drop any bombshells. He simply did exactly what the Ministry of Sport and Recreation were hoping for. He ignited interest in boxing.How well everything launches the “Awaken the Giant” boxing campaign remains to be seen. There were certainly enough sparks for a powerful liftoff.
An actual bout in Africa might not be the longshot it currently sounds like.
In fact, it could be the perfect scenario for a Pacquiao fight. It could be the perfect location for Floyd’s farewell. For now, in honor of what certainly seemed a more successful, considerate appearance than many supposedly higher pedigreed US diplomats, administrators or celebrities have achieved around the globe these days, we’ll refer to TBE’s preference on how to be remembered well.
Mr. Mayweather, you did your brand proud.