“Love me or hate me, you’re gonna to watch me,” Floyd Mayweather says into the cameras as you’re, well, watching him.
He’s been called a jerk, and narcissist who speaks about himself in third person more than Yoda. But he's earned his bragging rights; he's undefeated at 43-0, holds the Welterweight world title, and has only really been threatened twice—against Zab Judah who had him on the ropes back in 2006 and in a near knock-down against Sugar Shane Mosley in 2010. Though unchecked bravado is common in boxing, there's something about Mayweather's brand of showboating that makes him easy to hate. But at his training camp in April before his fight with Robert Guerrero, the prize fighter claims the “Money Mayweather” character he perpetuates is just that—a character, counting pay-per-view dollars as they come in.
Even now there's something slightly different about his demeanor. He even seems a bit humble, less playful. It's likely due to the fact that, in less than a year, Mayweather has been through many changes. Last summer he served two months of a three month sentence in jail—solitary confinement for 23 hours a day– for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge against the mother of his three children, Josie Harris. He parted ways with HBO and signed a record six-fight, 30-month deal with Showtime/CBS. He was named the highest paid athlete in the world with earnings in 2012 that approached 100 million dollars, and he fell out with his BFF, 50 Cent (who now works doing promotions for Manny Pacquiao) while rekindling his on-again, off-again relationship with his father, Floyd Mayweather, Sr. (now serving as his trainer again), along with his uncle, Roger Mayweather.
Now when he’s training he will take a day off—different from his regimen as a young fighter. He’s approaching 40. When I speak to him, he measures his words carefully. But there are traces of the old Mayweather. He’s still the electric trash talker he’s always been in his face-off with opponent Robert Guerrero. And he’s unwilling to discuss the fan-anticipated prospect of a Pacquiao fight with the media anymore. Nor does he admit to any wrongdoing in the fight with his ex-girlfriend, Josie Harris. And he will not talk about his public falling out with 50 Cent who has claimed it was over money.
Here in an exclusive interview with EBONY.com, Mayweather talks about his life changes and his plans to remain the boxing god.
EBONY: When you went face to face with Guerrero one of the first things you said was 'This ain’t [Andre] Berto, you getting the real deal.' Was that a reference to Berto attempting to fight in your style?
FLOYD MAYWEATHER: No, I don’t have something to say about Berto. I don’t want him to feel that I disrespected him. I admire him as a fighter. He is a big, young fighter. A world champion. He’s accomplished something a lot of fighters haven’t. I like Andre Berto and I’m going to continue to support him.
I didn’t get here by not being a complete fighter. I feel like I’m a well-rounded fighter which is why I’m here.
EBONY: What kind of impact do you want to have on the world in terms of money? What does money mean to you?
FM: [It means I can] continue to work with young, up-and-coming fighters. [It means I can] continue to work with the less fortunate, I want to go back to making—got off course while I was incarcerated– lunches, handing out lunches to the homeless, we have been building the company. It’s not only about the money, it’s also about being free, I’m happy that I’m free that’s really, really important to me.
When my son turned thirteen he broke his hand and he likes to shoot basketball, but he couldn’t. I got him the basketball suite at the Palms, the hardwood suite. Money is just comfort basically. My son wanted to go on a private jet with his friends. He wanted to go on a G4, G5, from LA to here (Vegas), and stay in a hotel suite the whole weekend for his birthday and play basketball with his friends. Of course I’m in a position to do that.
EBONY: That’s very different from the way you came up. Are your kids hungry for success in the way that you were?
FM: I feel a lot of times my kids are not gonna get the respect I got because I was self made. They are Floyd Mayweather’s kids. They were spoiled, everything was handed to them. Whereas for me, it was hard work from the ground up.
I won’t say I don’t have a lot of nice cars and a big house. When I see young fighters I tell them, you don’t need all that, that don’t define who you are, if a woman loves you, she don’t gotta love you for the materialistic things you got. When I saw Mike Tyson come to the gym [when I was younger] and he had them Bentleys and all that fly stuff I was like, 'Damn, that’s nice.' I was like, 'One day.'
All-in-all, I’m at the age where a little 600 Mercedes, a little Cadillac truck, that’s enough for me. I’m an older man now.
EBONY: How do you instill a work ethic in (your kids)?
FM: I want them to have manners, I stress to them to be positive. It’s no different from if somebody’s father or mother was an actor or actress and they were in a movie shooting guns and using fragrant language. I let my kids know that all that I do is a part of my job. It’s a part of entertainment.
EBONY: How did your experience last summer (in jail) change your life? Do you think you took freedom for granted?
FM: Well who wants to be locked up? Who wants to lose their freedom? There’s nothing cool about being locked up.
I’m one person that’s always honest. In the past you look at incidents where male and female partners had problems and they were famous. If the woman was battered they would have put pictures out there, you don’t think if Floyd Mayweather was kicking and beating a woman they would have said, ‘Look at these photos.’ But I was like you know what, I’m rich, I’m very outspoken, I’m already a fighter, and once someone says that it has to do with someone being touched in a violent way, they already think I’m guilty because I’m a fighter, and they automatically think I resolve all my issues (with violence) because I’m a fighter—which is not true.
I said I’m not going to drag my family through the mud, they’re not gonna put my kids on the stand and make them tell stories that’s not true, for a misdemeanor. This is how the system works: 95% of the cases are taking a deal, so how did we go from 36 years to 90 days? I think it could have been handled a different way. It cost me millions of dollars for something that happened years and years ago. You spend millions and millions of dollars to still get locked up? I might as well keep my money and still take the plea bargain and do that from the beginning.
But we don’t cry over that. My lawyers did what they had to do. I take the good with the good and the bad with the bad. I was incarcerated– locked up 23 hours a day. You get to come out one hour. My lawyer came every day.—sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. When you are in my shoes you get cases thrown at you all day long.
EBONY: You were a target?
FM: I’ve done a lot for the city of Las Vegas, I’m gonna continue to do a lot for the city of Las Vegas. I’m not bitter. If the judge says she felt that I had to do time, then I have nothing negative to say about her. I have a positive heart. I don’t have to talk bad about anybody.
EBONY: After these next six fights, what are your plans?
FM: Continue to support my fighters and all fighters in the sport of boxing. First fighter I ever seen die was Duk Koo Kim, he fought Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini at Caesar’s Palace back in the day. When (Marvin) Hagler fought (Tommy) Hearns, I was mad because I liked both of them and I didn’t want anybody to lose. When Tommy Hearns knocked Roberto Duran out I was like—aw, man. I knew Tommy Hearns when he was the Motor City Cobra then he turned into the Hit Man. When Sugar Ray had his comeback fight and fought Kevin Howard and got knocked down. (I really studied the fight game, so) I think one day I will be one of the biggest trainers in the sport.