Floyd: I’m not really a villain

Floyd Mayweather Jr. May have the
biggest mouth in boxing but few have a bigger work ethic.

Unbeaten Mayweather may someday
lose a fight, but it won’t be through lack of preparation.

On this day, just blocks from the
Las Vegas Strip, he did a half-hour straight of hard sparring, followed by
another half-hour on the heavy bag and then some work on the speed bag. Then
there were sit-ups to do, mitts to pound and, finally, rope to jump.

His date with Shane Mosley was
drawing nearer. Mayweather’s work was intense, and so was his focus.

One of the entourage stepped in to
get the shower running. Before he got clean, though, Mayweather came clean.

It is, he says, mostly an act.

That foul-mouthed, money-tossing,
mansion-loving guy who entertains weekly on HBO’s ‘24/7?’ Well, someone has to
play the villain, and it pays awfully well.

“The character I portray,
sometimes people think that’s what I am,” Mayweather says. “It’s not.
Floyd Mayweather is my name, the guy called Money Mayweather is just a
character.”

Oh, yeah?

“I’m not at home throwing
money around,” Mayweather insists. “I’m at my house with my children.
The rest of it is all entertainment. It’s all business.”

Some of it, anyway. A few minutes
later, Mayweather was talking about his NBA playoff bets, and how he had won
about $30,000 gambling the night before.

He’s legendary in this city’s
nightclubs for spreading the cash around, and he’s got his own customized armoured
car to drive when he has to go to the bank.

And most homebodies don’t need
bodyguards with massive biceps seven of them on this day to shield them against
foes both real and imagined.

They don’t get mentioned outside
courtrooms as possible police targets in a skating rink shooting investigation.

Then again, most fighters don’t do
conference calls with boxing writers from their daughter’s school, like
Mayweather did last week.

“My daughter’s getting an
award today,” he said. “She’s like the No.1 kid in her school.”

If the lines between what’s real
and what’s not are fuzzy, well, that’s just Mayweather. Family man, would-be
thug, boxer, helper of the homeless, he juggles all his roles with ease.

One minute he’s humble. The next
he’s the greatest ever.

“Muhammad Ali was one hell of
a fighter, but Floyd Mayweather is the best,” he says. “Sugar Ray
Robinson was one hell of a fighter, but Floyd Mayweather is the best.”

Mostly, though, he’s just a
fighter. He was literally born into the sport and it permeates his entire
being.

In the gym with him are his father
and uncle, both former fighters and both trainers. Running around are small
children, including one slick boxer he nicknamed ‘Cash Flow’.

The bodyguards patrol the parking
lot and guard the front door, but inside it’s organized chaos. About 50 people
gather around the ring to cheer Mayweather on as he takes on a sparring partner
in a fight that never seems to end.

It’s good preparation for Mosley,
who could be one of Mayweather’s toughest opponents ever when they meet Saturday
at the MGM Grand hotel arena. Odds makers still like Mayweather to win, but
he’s going to be in the ring against a fighter who has the skills and the
pedigree to more than hold his own.

“Shane Mosley is a solid
welterweight,” Mayweather says. “But he’s a fighter who always
worries about landing one big shot. I worry about being smart. We’re two
totally different fighters.”

This wasn’t the fight Mayweather
was supposed to be in this spring. He and Manny Pacquiao were all set to meet
in a megafight in March until Mayweather’s insistence on Olympic-style drug
testing caused the bout to fall apart.

That Mosley would be the opponent
instead is ironic because he was linked to the BALCO scandal, but both fighters
have for the first time undergone random blood and urine tests from the US
Anti-Doping Agency. Depending on how much Mosley has left at 38, the fight has
the potential to be competitive if nothing else.

Mayweather, 33, doesn’t seem to be
overly concerned. He’s won all 40 of his professional fights and, though his
defensive style may not please a lot of boxing fans, he’s discovered that he
can fight the way he wants to and still make millions.

If that means he has to play the
role of a villain, then so be it. By now he has the role down, and he’s awfully
good at it.

The real performance, though, comes
this weekend. And that will be no act.

PULLED

He’s legendary in this city’s
nightclubs for spreading the cash around, and he’s got his own customized armoured
car to drive when he has to go to the bank.

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