It’s supposed to be a celebration of an amazing career, a victory lap.
Instead, it’s just another day at the office for Floyd Mayweather Jr. At least it feels like that, including some controversy that tends to stick to the bottom of his shoes like a piece of gum.
Mayweather, the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association welterweight champion, puts his titles on the line against Andre Berto tonight at the MGM Grand Garden on Showtime Pay Per View in what Mayweather says is his final fight. Win, and he goes to 49-0, tying heavyweight Rocky Marciano’s record. Lose, and his legacy will be forever tarnished as having come up short against a guy who is a 30-1 underdog.
“There won’t be a 50-0,” Mayweather said this week. “That’s not going to happen. This is it.”
Why no feting? Why no farewell party? Why haven’t luminaries throughout boxing come to Las Vegas to pay homage to one of the best fighters of his era?
Partially because no one believes this is the end for Mayweather. Many in boxing seem certain that he will continue to fight after tonight.
And while Mayweather, 38, and his manager, Leonard Ellerbe, claim no one from MGM has made an offer to him to fight in the $375 million, 20,000-seat arena under construction behind New York-New York, that doesn’t mean an offer isn’t going to be forthcoming. The arena is scheduled to open in April, and speculation is the MGM would like for Mayweather to be the first sporting event.
“People are throwing crazy numbers at me to stay in the sport — nine figures,” Mayweather said. “But I’m OK with my decision. I write my own numbers.”
Mayweather will make $32 million for the fight. Showtime plans to air a retrospective of his career at the end of the pay-per-view telecast, and it will be similar to “One Shining Moment” that airs after the NCAA men’s basketball championship game every year.
Mayweather seems fine with that. For him, what’s important will be that those closest to him will watch the fight in person. His mother, Deborah Sinclair, will be on hand, and Mayweather said it’s never easy for her to watch.
“She gets anxiety when I fight,” he said. “The bigger the fight, the more the stress. I don’t like to look over to her because I don’t like the look I see. It’s a ‘I’ll be glad when this is over look.'”
Mayweather himself probably will be glad when tonight is over as well. He found himself the target of an online story Wednesday that said he was given an IV after the weigh-in for his May 2 fight with Manny Pacquiao to help him rehydrate, which should not have been allowed because it violated the code of the World Anti-Doping Agency, whose rules are used as a guideline by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
The NAC had jurisdiction over the fight and was not informed of the IV until almost three weeks after it, and only the commission has the right to permit a Temporary Usage Exemption (TUE) .
It become the talk of the boxing world, and while Mayweather normally would not even respond, he issued a statement Thursday denying he and the United States Anti-Doping Agency did anything wrong.
Still, it cast a small cloud over the week and himself.
The other cloud is the sluggish ticket sales and pay-per-view buys. Tickets still were available Friday, while the pay per view, which costs $74.99 for high definition, may not break 1 million buys.
Of course, no one was expecting the pay per view to come close to the Pacquiao fight, which set records for buys (4.4 million) and revenue ($440 million).
“I don’t know,” Mayweather said when asked what realistically can be expected for tonight’s fight on pay-per-view sales. “I really don’t know. We’ll just have to see.”
At Friday’s weigh-in at the Grand Garden, Mayweather weighed 146 pounds and Berto 145. And Mayweather probably wasn’t going to be seeking an IV to rehydrate.
Nineteen years ago, Mayweather made his professional debut at Texas Station, knocking out Robert Apodaca in the second round. Tonight, and hundreds of millions of dollars later, he will try to exit the ring with a bang against Berto, who has lost three of his past six fights but claims he is healthier than he has been in years.
“I’m not overlooking Berto,” Mayweather said. “In each of my 48 fights, I always respected the ability of my opponent. I’m in great shape. We had a tremendous training camp. I plan to be at my best and give the fans a great fight.
“No fighter has beaten more champions than me. I don’t want to leave without knowing I’m the best.”
WHAT: World welterweight championship
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: MGM Grand Garden
RECORDS: Mayweather 48-0, 26 KOs; Berto 30-3, 23 KOs
WEIGHTS: Mayweather 146 pounds, Berto 145 pounds
OFFICIALS: Referee — Kenny Bayless. Judges — Dave Moretti, Adalaide Byrd, and Steve Weisfeld
PURSES: Mayweather $32 million, Berto $4 million
LINE: Mayweather minus-3000, Berto plus 1000
TV: Showtime PPV ($74.99 hi def, $64.99 standard def)