There’s a lot of noise around Floyd Mayweather these days, but all of it is coming from the needy side of the room.
You know what side I’m talking about: The side that needs Floyd Mayweather a lot more than Floyd Mayweather needs them.
That means Conor McGregor and Manny Pacquiao might as well talk about fighting one another, because all the noise coming from their side of the room seems to be making about as much of an impact on Floyd Mayweather as his opponent’s gloves ever did.
Which is to say, virtually none at all.
Mayweather was in Brooklyn on Wednesday for a press conference to publicize a fight he is co-promoting, between his fighter, Badou Jack, and James DeGale for the supermiddleweight title on January 14 at the Barclays Center.
In his capacity as promoter, Mayweather did his level best to talk about that fight, but inevitably, the questions turned back to him.
McGregor, who won a fight last week at Madison Square Garden, has been running his formidable mouth about a supposed $100 million boxing match against Mayweather, a match Mayweather is purportedly scared of, according to McGregor, anyway. And out in Las Vegas, promoter Bob Arum is telling people there is “a 75 percent chance” that Mayweather and Pacquiao will stage a reprise of their sleepwalk of May 2015, which generated an outrageous $600 million in revenue. “I can feel it,” Arum said.
Mayweather didn’t seem to be feeling any of it on Wednesday.
“Totally false,” Mayweather said of Bob’s Arum-ly intuition. “If you don’t hear it from my mouth, it’s not true.”
Then he said something that is inarguably true. “Floyd Mayweather is the biggest name in MMA and the biggest name in boxing and I’m not even competing anymore. These guys are just trying to piggyback off of my name. Guys need to go out there and make their own names.”
That last was a veiled shot at McGregor, whose boasts may or may not be getting under Floyd’s skin.
But no matter. As of November 16, 2016, it doesn’t seem as if McGregor or Pacquiao has a real shot of getting him into a ring. At this point — and that must always be emphasized with boxers — Floyd Mayweather gives every indication of being through with his sport before it is through with him.
That is rare in every sport, but more so in boxing, where no one has to make a team and in most states, just showing a pulse is enough to get a license.
And it is especially rare in the case of an athlete like Mayweather, who even three months shy of his 40th birthday looks as if he could step into the ring tomorrow. In fact, he did step into a ring about two weeks ago to spar a few rounds with Thomas Dulorme, a junior welterweight contender 13 years his junior.
But that was a spur of the moment decision — “I boxed with no mouthpiece,” Mayweather said — and he insists that in the 14 months since his last bout, a one-sided decision over Andre Berto that Mayweather called “a little sparring session,” he has harbored no hankering to return to the ring.
“I don’t miss the sport at all,” he said. “I had fun while it lasted. I’m happy with how my career went. I went out there and done what I had to do. Having my faculties and me being sharp and me being smart is more important than anything. I’m happy that I was a defensive fighter.”
That tendency made Mayweather rarely a crowd-pleasing fighter — “I never had to use my A-game,” he said –but again, no matter. He profited off the hatred of the crowd, which like in the early days of Muhammad Ali, came in the hopes of seeing him get beat up. He created a character, Money, a heel turn if there ever was one, and played it to the hilt.
The end result was a paycheck of more than $200 million for the Pacquiao fight — some estimates put his take near a quarter-billion dollars for 48 minutes work — and if there is one universal motivator for ill-advised comebacks, it is money woes. Mayweather doesn’t seem to have any of those; he claims to have $1.2 billion in real estate investments, a fleet of private jets, and was most excited to talk about his latest venture, a “gentleman’s club” in Vegas called Girl Collection.
“Real upscale, real classy. You guys will love it,” said Mayweather, apparently forgetting he was addressing boxing writers. “You laugh, but the place is a vault. It’s printing money.”
But the truth is, Mayweather doesn’t seem to have a need for cash or the adulation of a fight-night crowd. Even without taking punches, he still lives a star trip — he arrived nearly three hours late for his own press conference and he and his entourage, on its way into the Barclays Center atrium, made an abrupt about-face, and a do-over, when a member of the crew discovered the boss’ collar was slightly askew.
“Gotta look like my middle name,” Mayweather joked.
And despite Mayweather’s apparent wealth, that is the one factor that could tip the scales toward the voices that are crying out for one more big payday. There is always the possibility that some crazy billionaire — no, not the one headed to the White House — could write that $100 million check, or that some oil-rich foreign government (Dubai, anyone?) might want to put itself in the news by hosting Mayweather’s attempt to go 50-0, the way Zaire broke its own banks to host Ali-Foreman in 1974.
But considering the disappointment that followed the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, and Mayweather’s well-known aversion to risk-taking in our riskiest sport, it would take a huge leap of faith for even the most optimistic investor to think the lightning of a $600 million gate could strike twice.
And besides, Mayweather seems adamant when he says his only role in boxing from here on will be outside the ring.
“Stop asking me about fighting,” he said. “Listen, I want to say this: I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m older, I’m happy, I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to fight. I just want to help fighters. I don’t want to fight anymore.”
Sounds like Floyd Mayweather really doesn’t want to fight anymore.
And until that changes, there’s really no need to listen to the needy side of the room.