Floyd Mayweather Jr. wanted a cup of coffee.
The Face of Boxing was chatting with reporters in a VIP salon at the MGM Grand. One of the Showtime guys offered to get it, because when Floyd says jump, the fellows from Showtime, which has signed him for a six-fight deal, do not ask how high. They dunk basketballs.
No, Floyd said. Let Marcus get it.
Marcus belongs to Floyd. He’s on The Money Team. TMT on the caps and T-shirts.
So Marcus got Floyd his coffee, and Floyd took a sip, and Floyd said WTF, or something like that.
Floyd said the coffee tasted lemony. Floyd asked Marcus if he put lemon in his coffee. Floyd told Marcus you put lemon in tea, not coffee.
Marcus fetched Floyd a second cup of coffee that wasn’t so lemony.
Floyd said Marcus is Floyd’s guy.
Floyd had a lot of guys like Marcus.
This is why I think Floyd will beat Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in their big fight Saturday night at the Grand Garden. And that it won’t be close.
People who follow fisticuffs, who have spit into a bucket at ringside, or carried one out, use a lot of boxing expressions when predicting winners of the big bouts, such as “styles win fights” and “kill the body and the head will die,” and “I coulda been a contender.”
I have a more proven method for determining who will drape the gaudy jewel-encrusted belt across his shoulder at the end of the evening.
I go to the “news” conference and count entourage members.
There’s an expression in auto racing, especially the amateur form, the kind that guys who work on transmissions do on Saturday nights at the little bullrings on their way up, that if you want to know who is going to win the race, go back behind the pit wall and find the guy with the biggest hauler for his racecar.
Big racecar haulers cost lots of money. In auto racing, the guy with the most money usually wins.
Boxing entourages cost lots of money, too. Big, menacing guys who wear dark glasses need to eat, or they become smaller and less menacing.
At the “news” conference, about a dozen guys calling themselves Team Canelo shuffled into the KA Theatre with the undefeated Mexican fighter. Only one was big and menacing. He had a thick ridge of muscle on the back of his bald head, just above the neck and tattoo line.
Floyd had four of these guys, one bigger than the next. The last one looked like the guy who played “Big Mike” Oher of the Baltimore Ravens in the movies. Only bigger. He had Floyd’s blind side. And the side where Floyd could see. And his left and right side, too.
This man’s name is Alfonso Redic, and I would not want to mess with him, even if I had a boxing name like “Kid” or “Stallion.”
As I said, Floyd had three other guys like Alfonso Redic, and a dozen or more guys in TMT shirts who bring him coffee and other things, and somebody who massages his feet, and somebody who makes his sports bets. And then the average-sized guys with the expensive suits came out from behind the stage. These were the TMT lawyers, and I fear them almost as much as I fear Alfonso Redic.
I did not, however, see a dwarf.
Sugar Ray Robinson had a dwarf among his entourage.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. might be working on it.
Before Floyd fought Miguel Cotto, he let Justin Bieber carry a couple of his title belts into the ring. Among the hangers-on, it wasn’t hard to tell which one was The Biebs. He was the one who Larry Merchant still could beat up today.
Also, the rapper Lil Wayne is part of Floyd’s traveling circus, but Lil Wayne stands 5 feet 6 inches tall. He’s Lil but hardly a dwarf.
These entourages in boxing are a big deal, a status symbol, and most people credit/blame Ali for starting it all, or maybe Mike Tyson or MC Hammer.
Actually, it was Ray Robinson who started it.
The original Sugar Ray traveled with a secretary, a barber, a masseur, a voice coach, a coterie of trainers, another coterie of beautiful women, a guy who whistled while the Sugar Man trained and, as mentioned, a dwarf mascot.
When Robinson first traveled to Paris, the story goes, a steward referred to his crew as an “entourage” — the French word for “attendants.” Attendants? No, these people are my friends, Ray Robinson was reported to have said.
But the term stuck, and that is why I spent much of Wednesday’s final “news” conference surrounded by Floyd Mayweather’s yes men, and women with tight skirts and round backsides, and somebody who rubs his feet — but nobody, apparently, who wears a wristwatch, because Floyd showed up about 40 minutes late.
Wristwatches apparently are passe in boxing. Or for the Klitschko brothers.
After a while, when I got tired of watching the two Corona girls stationed on the dais maintain their fake smiles, I thought of this guy who used to follow Tyson around. Steve “Crocodile” Fitch. He wore combat fatigues and would shout things such as “Guerilla Warfare!” and “Pound for Pound!” whenever Mike was out in public.
For this, Mike reportedly paid him a $300,000 salary.
After Mike took him off the payroll, I saw an interview — I think it was at an unveiling of one of those EA video boxing games — in which somebody asked Fitch where Tyson stood among the all-time greats. And the interviewer said, No. 1, right? Because the interviewer might have been 23, and The Crocodile still looked sort of menacing.
Nah, said Steve “Crocodile” Fitch. Maybe top five at best.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.