Column: Mayweather in fine form for a fight
A rare series of storms had cooled the summer air to an almost
tolerable level, though it was steamy as ever inside Floyd
Mayweather Jr.’s gym just a few miles from the Vegas Strip.
With a couple of sparring partners in front of him late Monday
afternoon, Mayweather turned up the heat even more.
”Right there, right there,” he yelled at the first hapless
pugilist to feel his wrath. ”You can’t get away. I’ll hit you when
I want to.”
It didn’t take Mayweather long to do just that. As the third of
four rounds stretched to the 10-minute mark he connected with a
rapid volley of punches, finishing it off with a left hook that
rocked his opponent for the day, sending him stumbling across the
All in a day’s work, but there was still work to be done. Always
is when it’s Mayweather in training and especially now, less than
three weeks before his fight with undefeated Mexican star Saul
It’s a big fight, but all Mayweather fights are big. He’s the
undisputed pay-per-view king and the Sept. 14 matchup is so
attractive that the pay-per-view price is a whopping $74.95 for
those watching in high definition. Though Mayweather’s last fight
in May against Robert Guerrero – for which he earned $32 million –
wasn’t a huge box office smash, this one should make executives at
Showtime and CBS feel better about the money they laid out for
boxing’s biggest draw.
Better yet, he’s fighting for the second time in four months
after not fighting more than once a year since 2007.
”I’m ready to perform and entertain, that’s what it’s all
about,” Mayweather said. ”I’m a lot older now so the last five
fights I have I want to go out with a bang.”
The fight is the second in his six-fight deal with Showtime,
which lured him from HBO to help sell cable subscriptions and build
the network’s boxing brand. He says the bouts will be the last of
his career, though at the age of 36 he doesn’t seem to have lost
any of the reflexes or speed that have helped him win all 44 of his
fights in a professional career that began following the 1996
What has changed is how Mayweather sells himself, even if he
claims he hasn’t changed. Ever since his release from a Las Vegas
jail after serving 64 days on domestic abuse charges last year,
Mayweather has been the model of politeness and civility – in sharp
contrast to the bad-boy persona that made him such a big attraction
over the years.
That’s one reason why Showtime’s All Access show on
Mayweather-Alvarez seemed to fall a bit flat in the first episode.
There were the requisite shots, of course, of Mayweather and
Alvarez in face-offs and together on a tour promoting the bout, but
there wasn’t the drama of Mayweather’s earlier fights when he could
be seen yelling at his father or counting stacks of $100 bills with
his former buddy, 50 Cent.
That sold pay-per-views to people who spent their money hoping
to either see Mayweather win or get knocked out. But Mayweather
seems to either have outgrown the part or simply doesn’t want to
play it anymore.
”What do you mean by image? My image has always been as an
entertainer, but at home I’m a great father,” Mayweather said.
”There’s no bad guy, that’s an image the critics picked. My image
is to make sure my kids get the best education and provide a
comfortable life for my family.”
If the new Mayweather is a kinder and gentler sort outside the
ring, he’s changed some inside, too. His fights sometimes tended to
become tedious affairs as he sought to win without getting hit, but
in recent years he has changed his style somewhat and has become
more aggressive and flat-footed.
It showed on Monday as he walked two sparring partners across
the ring, banging away with left hooks and right hands while
keeping up a steady stream of chatter. The short time between
fights should be beneficial to Mayweather at his age, and he’s
already inside the 152-pound (69-kilogram) catch weight for the
”I got back into it so quick that I’m still sharp,” he said.
”I feel good, real good.”
Boxing fans should feel good, too, that Mayweather is taking on
Alvarez, a 23-year-old who is unbeaten in 42 fights and holds a
piece of the 154-pound title. Mayweather has been criticized in the
past for hand-picking his opponents and refusing to fight Manny
Pacquiao, but Alvarez is about as dangerous a fight as any he could
take on at this stage of his career.
Not that Mayweather will acknowledge any such thing. Icing his
sometimes brittle hands while sitting in a dressing room after his
workout, he questioned the quality of Alvarez’s opponents, and said
it was just another fight to him.
Another fight and another $40-million to $50-million payout that
will cement his reign this year as the highest paid athlete in the
As for Pacquiao and the fight that will likely now never
”I don’t even know who that is,” Mayweather said.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated
Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or