Admit it, youve missed Floyd Mayweather. His trash-talking and lavish lifestyle aside, Money Mayweather is one of the most skilled and gifted athletes sports have seen in the last 25 years. In boxing, pound for pound talent like him comes around once in a lifetime, and has guided Mayweather so far to a perfect fighting record of 39-0.
Mayweather retired in 2007, and left fans and critics wanting him back to face a handful of final challenges in the welterweight division. On September 19, 2009, Floyd will face number 2 pound-for-pound fighter, Juan Manuel Marquez in a bout to be televised on HBO PPV and live at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Now that hes returned, Floyd is on record as stating everyone can get it, one by one. But in his early 30s, does the self-professed GOAT still have what it takes to be boxing #1 pound for pound?
AllHipHop.com: Welcome back, champ. About a month ago when the fight was postponed due to your rib injury, you stated you physically felt fine but wouldnt know for sure until you started having physical contact. How are you feeling now that youve been sparring?
Mayweather: I feel great. Once you engage in combat, you try to focus on offense and mixing up your arsenal to take as less punishment as possible. Ive been working on a lot of offense [for Marquez] but my defense has always been tight. With everything in the sport of boxing youre always trying to be a better fighter overall.
AllHipHop.com: Since you mentioned the focus on offense, how has your timing been since youve been out for nearly two years?
Mayweather: My team uncle Roger [Mayweather], Leonard Ellerbe, Rafael Garcia, Nate Jones, and Juan Blake has stated my timing has been tremendous, and it looks like I never even left the sport. Im working extremely hard and pushing myself to the limit to come back better than when I left. The point is to come back faster, stronger, and be a complete, intelligent fighter. And this time of course an exciting fighter for the fans, because I want to bring [that] excitement to the sport. Of course for myself first, but the fans do count. The performance has to be there for them.
AllHipHop.com: As this fight shows, the field is open to you as far as fighters ranging from lightweight up to welterweight. A lot of people still bring up how good you looked at 140 pounds against DeMarcus Corley, Henry Bruseles, and Arturo Gatti. With guys like Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley at 140, do you feel you could still make that weight, or is your comfort level at 147 pounds?
Mayweather: I feel that all roads lead to Floyd Mayweather, so well take one fight at a time. Marquez is one of the best fighters pound for pound, and Mexicos best fighter. Mexicans have always produced exciting fighters and champions going back over a hundred years. My main focus is Marquez, you cant overlook guys. I think when fighters tend to overlook guys they come up short. Were going to execute the gameplan, get him out the way, and see where we go from here.
AllHipHop.com: This will be one of the biggest matchups of the year. Usually, you wage a lot of psychological warfare on your opponents to rile them up. But with Marquez, youve really laid off that. Is that because of your respect for him as a fighter?
Mayweather: No, its not that. Thats just versatility. Every fight cant be approached and marketed the same. Some fights well talk trash and other well just go out there and do what we have to do.
AllHipHop.com: Just based on resume, do you feel Marquez will be the most skilled fighter youll have faced in your career?
Mayweather: [Pauses] Uh, I cant really say since weve never engaged in combat before. Some Im able to tell [beforehand] of course hes a very good counter-puncher and boxer. Hes solid, but I cant give him the best until we have battle. Then Ill tell you where he ranks.
AllHipHop.com: Even in retirement you were still present at a lot of boxing cards, and you co-signed light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson as one of the future stars in the sport. When you look at him and other young stars like Andre Berto and Paul Williams, how do you think they carried the sport in your absence? And how was the overall health of boxing?
Mayweather: I have nothing but respect for all fighters going out there and working hard to put food on the table. But theres only one Floyd Mayweather. I dont believe everybody was born to be a flashy entertainer and sell tickets. And sell PPVs like Ive done. I think Dawsons a hell of a fighter, and so are Berto and Paul Williams. You have to realize we all come from the same background and had to work our way from the bottom to the top. I have respect for these fighters trying to reach the highest level you can possibly reach, and thats the Mayweather level.
AllHipHop.com: You made a profound statement during your last run in regards to marketing fights. You said that a lot of times you approach fights akin to a rap beef because thats what people want to see and confrontation always sells tickets
Mayweather: Well, boxing is entertainment. Im in the show business. But also look at this; Im in the check-cashing business! As far as PPV, I hold the record, and the highest grossing gate. [Writers Note: The 2007 bout with Oscar De La Hoya sold 2.4 million Pay-Per-Views and posted $120 million in revenue]. Ive won six world championships, and did that all in a decade. So Ive brought a lot to the sport of boxing. I took care of things inside the ring, and now have added a tremendous team outside on the business end.
AllHipHop.com: We can look at the 2005 Gatti fight as the beginning of your ascent to superstardom being that it was your first PPV. Is that when you began cultivating the Money Mayweather persona that youve been presenting to fans over the last few years?
Mayweather: I think I was just held back. I could have been a bigger quicker if I wasnt held back from PPV by [my former promoter] Bob Arum. I feel that my first PPV fight should have been with Angel Manfredy. Bob Arum is biased against black fighters; he leans towards Hispanic fighters and keeps them on PPV. He tried to install in our minds that blacks cant sell PPV or sell out arenas. But thats not true; we are known for having the best entertainers and the best athletes. Thats been known for many years. But you live, learn, and keep striving.
AllHipHop.com: Lets switch gears to your music label Philthy Rich Records. How has that been going being that youre managing it simultaneously with your ring career?
Mayweather: Yeah! People want to know why we really never came out with any artists or albums. In the beginning we were working with a cousin of mine whose rap name was Sacrifice and [another artist named] Jumbo, but he had problems back home. And with my cousin, sometimes family and business get mixed up. So they never got off the ground.
The next artist was real underground, and at the time there were really no underground artists that were taking off. We moved on to H-Flow, and H had manager problems and everyone felt like we owed them something. The next one, Lombardi, he fell in love with a girl. Things just kept happening.
Then we started Mayweather Music. Tasha White was running that, and I think it was too much for her. She was more like a mid-level manager instead of an executive. We needed someone who had been around the game and knew the ins and outs to run Mayweather Music, which was more for R&B.
We were working with an artist named Freck Billionaire. When he came aboard we asked if he had any contracts and he said no. Come to find out he was signed with somebody. The guy was trying to sue us and Freck stole one of our watches and left. So weve been looking for Freck Billionaire but hes been ducking and dodging us. He stole a diamond watch and left.
So thats what has been going on. The business is so dirty.
AllHipHop.com: What all that said which do you see as more difficult and cutthroat, boxing or the music business?
Mayweather: Which is more cutthroat? Both!
AllHipHop.com: Since your good friends with 50 Cent, did you consult him for advice being that hes probably went through similar issues with his own label?
Mayweather: We just talk on a friendship level. I dont ask him about music, but Im sure he would give me advice if I asked for it.
AllHipHop.com: You already have a Hip-Hop collaboration under your belt with the Ludacris song Undisputed. With what has happened with the label so far, do you think youll now take a more visible approach ala Diddy or keep yourself in the background?
Mayweather: I love music, and right now the most talented artist Ive come across is Freck Billionaire. But he does business so dirty we couldnt work with him. We let him walk in our studio for free and put him up in a hotel free of charge. Anything he needed he got, he was comfortable. Its the people around you. They all end up being the same way. Leonard Ellerbe, Al Haymon, James McNair, and the rest of my team have never let me down. Everybody else comes and goes while feeling like you owe them something. But they never get in the ring for you and throw the punches, or run on the ropes, the roadwork, hit the heavy bag, they dont do anything.
In the Hip-Hop world today, everybody is a gang-banger. Its a fad. Its so crazy; you got Blood and Crips in New York City. I see a lot of things in Hip-Hop that arent cool. I just like to hear good music.
AllHipHop.com: On that note, your popularity has caused rappers to mention your name on occasion. When you have an instance like the Rick Ross line on Mafia Music, (That Mayweather money looking funny in the light) does that bother you or do you feel flattered at any type of crossover recognition?
Mayweather: Nah, they say Rick Ross was throwing shots at me. I feel like this, Cassidy already did Im a Hustla, [and] hes an East Coast rapper. Thats already been done. Freeway already came out with the beard look. And then the real Rick Ross was really getting it as a hustler. I dont have to take no shots at Rick Ross. I dont think hes making $20-$30 million every time he goes out there to perform. I got my own name, Floyd Money Mayweather. Thats original. With his rap career, I wish him nothing but the best.
[His] stats and credentials dont rhyme. One minute he said he wasnt a CO or cop, next minute he is. He can learn how to get money from me. If hes a cop and rapping about selling drugs, I guess he was a dirty cop! You know me, Im not ducking and dodging no one, its not hard to find me. Im in Miami all the time, Atlanta, everywhere.
Its crazy because me and my manager Al Haymon were the ones that did Lil Waynes last tour. So when I seen Rick Ross in Miami on the first show, he broke his neck to speak to me. Rap has truly changed. He was at my Hatton fight, cheering me on. I guess he got upset because Im cool with 50 Cent. But like I said if I need someone arrested Ill call him.
Part 2 Coming Soon, where Mayweather Talks His Welterweight Rivals (Cotto, Mosley,etc)