Floyd flourishes as villain

Miguel Cotto isn’t Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s biggest obstacle tonight at the MGM Grand Garden.

Time is.

Now 35, Mayweather said he plans to fight only a few more times. True, he has “retired” before. But the reality is the older he gets, the tougher it will be to preserve his legacy as one of the best fighters of his generation, not to mention his quest to finish his career unbeaten.

“I’ll be done by the time I’m 37,” said Mayweather, a 7-1 favorite to beat Cotto and take his WBA junior middleweight belt. “Maybe four or five more fights, and that’s it.”

When he does retire, Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts) will be giving up a lucrative job. He made $25 million when he knocked out Victor Ortiz in September at the Grand Garden, and $22.5 million when he beat Shane Mosley in 2010.

But those numbers pale in comparison to what Mayweather will make tonight. According to the Nevada Athletic Commission, he will take home a staggering $32 million, including his cut from the HBO Pay Per View telecast. Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) will make $8 million.

“When it’s all said and done, I’m making smart business decisions,” Mayweather said. “When I’m on TV, I want to keep people glued to the television, because that’s what it’s all about. Even people who aren’t boxing fans are going to say, ‘You know what? We got to tune in and watch this guy; he’s very, very interesting, he has a great story.’ “

That story began in Grand Rapids, Mich. One minute, Mayweather quietly talks about his upbringing there, about living with his grandmother in New Jersey, about how he didn’t have money growing up and how boxing became his ticket to success.

Then, in the next minute, he’ll turn into a brash, trash talker who likes to cast himself as the villain and sounds more like a professional wrestler.

“It’s promotion; it’s all about putting asses in the seats,” Mayweather said. “People don’t understand that. I’ve explained it many times – ‘Money Mayweather’ is a character. That’s not the real Floyd Mayweather. It’s just business.

“When I go into an arena, if the fans are cheering, that’s a great thing. Fans boo, they boo, and that’s a great thing, because they’re letting me know that I’m relevant.”

Both fighters made the 154-pound limit at Friday’s weigh-in at the Grand Garden, with Mayweather weighing 151 pounds – the heaviest he’s fought at – and Cotto 154. Mayweather said he sparred with younger, stronger fighters and came out of his camp in fine form.

“I think I’m getting better with age,” he said. “I think I’m still sharp. I’m still hungry. There’s no fighter who’s going to work as hard as Floyd Mayweather because I have the will to win.

“I can’t tell you what Miguel Cotto is good at. What may work with one fighter may not work with me. Cotto is not going to be able to out-fight me. I’ve been tested. If I have to fight inside, I will. My body hasn’t taken the abuse that other fighters who have gone to war have had. That’s the coolest thing about my career – in 16 years, I never got beaten up.”

Mayweather claims his pending June 1 incarceration at the Clark County Detention Center, where he will serve 87 days after a guilty plea on domestic battery charges, was not a distraction during training.

“I’m always in a good state of mind, a great state of mind before the fight, after the fight and when the fight is happening,” Mayweather said. “I don’t think of anything negative when I’m in the gym.

“But my (reporting) date, I’m not thinking about that.”

■ NOTES – Shane Mosley, who faces Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the WBC junior middleweight title in tonight’s co-feature, was a half-pound over the 154-pound limit his first time on the scales, but made weight an hour later. Alvarez weighed 154. … Because of blackout restrictions imposed Thursday, the card will not be shown at the Galaxy 16 Theaters at the Cannery in North Las Vegas. Refunds are available at the point of purchase. … The NAC rejected the gloves Mayweather and Alvarez planned to use because of a plastic insert in the thumb that caused a seam to protrude on the outside of the glove. New gloves were en route from New York by manufacturer Grant. … The weigh-in drew 6,000 fans.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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