It’s true that ever since he served his 87-day jail sentence, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has seemed much more humble.
For his fight this past May, Mayweather was more accommodating to the media than most veterans ever recall him being. That has carried over to his fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, which takes place next Saturday.
But whatever gains have been made in humility, there are still remnants of the old Mayweather. During his media day in August, he took his time getting a haircut before jumping into the ring for his workout. On Wednesday’s conference call, he held things up for about fifteen minutes, and then dropped off the call a number of times while answering a question. He also took off a few minutes early after Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe claimed his phone had died.
For the most part, Mayweather handled the press well during the brief call, though he did get agitated at the end by a few questions. One member of the Puerto Rican press wanted to ask him about what Alvarez could learn from Mayweather’s May 2012 fight against Miguel Cotto.
“The only thing Canelo can learn from the Cotto fight is how to lose,” an annoyed Mayweather answered after saying he wasn’t there to answer questions about his past conquests.
“Don’t talk about what I already took care of,” Mayweather advised.
For a majority of the questioning, Mayweather was much more reserved than he’s been known to be. When asked about the idea that he’s become tamer, Mayweather made it clear it was about business.
“I built my fanbase, became a pay-per-view star, a household name,” said Mayweather. “It’s nothing fake, but you gotta know when to turn it on and when to turn if off.”
Mayweather did mention he advised rising star Adrien Broner to tone things down a bit sometimes.
Mayweather’s heel character has helped put him in the position he currently sits. All signs are pointing to this fight breaking numerous records, whether it be the highest grossing gate in the sport’s history or the biggest PPV gross. According to Ellerbe, the fight is also outperforming what the 2007 fight against Oscar De La Hoya did in bars and its reach in movie theaters is much greater than any previous fight.
“Some days I have good days, some days I have bad days,” said Mayweather in reflecting on his newfound demeanor. “Just like you smile on sunny days, you have to smile on rainy days. The only thing I can do is become a better person each and every day.”
Mayweather has earned his spot the hard way. Although he hasn’t always faced the most difficult challenges available to him at the time, he’s gone undefeated while taking on a number of past world champions and future Hall of Famers.
“I never fought nobody for no vacant belt,” Mayweather boasted proudly. “I didn’t fight a washed-up [Carlos] Baldomir, I fought him when he was undisputed champ.”
Mayweather was asked about the current state of the game and whether or not it is easier these days to navigate the ranks than when he was coming up in the late ’90s.
“It’s a lot easier,” Mayweather agreed. “Boxing is tainted, watered down. Too many belts, too many champions. I think it’s funny that I beat Cotto for the WBA title, then how did [Austin] Trout beat Cotto for the WBA? How did Canelo beat Trout for the WBA title?”
A question that would have set off Mayweather a few years ago about the selection of his opposition had him react much differently than anticipated.
“They say Floyd Mayweather’s opponents were handpicked,” said Mayweather. “If they say I’ve hand picked my opponents and I’ve gotten paid $50 million, then my people did a good job picking them. I have to commend Leonard and Al [Haymon].”
Mayweather was asked bout referee Kenny Bayless and the three judges chosen for the fight.
“Kenny Bayless is a great referee, he’s fair,” said Mayweather. “[He] is one of the guys who is not for the bulls__t, he tries to treat everyone fair.”
The three judges picked were Dave Moretti, CJ Wilson, and Craig Metcalfe. Wilson is well known for turning in a 115-113 scorecard in favor of Tim Bradley over Manny Pacquiao last June, though nobody pointed that specific thing out.
“I’m comfortable with whatever. My job is to go out there and compete. I feel they chose the right judges and chose the right referee.”
When asked about whether or not he felt like he deserved credit for the current rise in drug testing in the sport, Mayweather’s not-so-humble side spoke up.
“I started it all and now it is everywhere,” said Mayweather.
Mayweather believes that it is definitely possible that Canelo is feeling the pressure of fighting in such a big event, something that Mayweather has become accustomed to.
“I think it’s different fighting on Floyd Mayweather’s undercard than fighting Floyd Mayweather. We’ll have to see. Hopefully the pressure surrounding him makes him fight better. I truly believe there’s a lot of pressure on Canelo.”
As the days draw nearer, it sounds as though that edge Mayweather has become known for is still very much there.
He’s just become better at managing it.
Photos: Esther Lin-Showtime; Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos; Al Bello-GBP/Gettyimages