Mayweather looking to extend legacy

Originally Published: May 2, 2014
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- As Floyd Mayweather Jr. looks over the landscape of the sport of which he is king, he sometimes wonders what else is there to accomplish.

Even though Mayweather is 37, he remains at the top of his game, beating opponents fight in and fight out with ease, without the slightest sign of slippage.

He is undefeated, has won world titles in five weight classes, simultaneously holds titles at welterweight and junior middleweight and was the highest-paid athlete in the world in 2013, collecting a minimum of $73.5 million for two lopsided wins against Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez, the latter fight shattering boxing's all-time revenue record.

He also took time out Thursday night to pick up his 2013 Boxing Writers Association of America Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year award at the organization's annual dinner.

But other than a fight with Manny Pacquiao, which Mayweather doesn't seem to have much use for -- and a fight that will never mean as much as it would have had they met when they were both at the top of their game in 2010 -- there is little else for him to do that would dramatically enhance his legacy, perhaps with the exception of seeking out a middleweight title shot.

So although Mayweather will face fellow welterweight titleholder Marcos Maidana in a 147-pound unification fight on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, forgive the king if he is just a bit restless.

"I'm being honest. I be contemplating every day about getting out of the sport now," an introspective Mayweather said this week. "I'm very, very comfortable. I think that it's not really hard for me to get up when I get to the boxing gym -- it's like getting me to the gym.

"I go in the garages and I look around [and say, looking over a fleet of dozens of luxury cars], 'Do I want to drive you, you, you, you, you?' I go on the other side and say, 'Do I want to drive you, you?'"

As middleweight legend Marvelous Marvin Hagler once said about training after accumulating so much success and wealth, "It's hard to get up at 6 a.m. when you're wearing silk pajamas."

Mayweather's comments on possibly retiring caught Leonard Ellerbe, his close friend and CEO of Mayweather Promotions, off guard.

"All this is history we are experiencing now," he said. "There may be other great fighters that come along, but I personally don't feel there will ever be another Floyd Mayweather. We are all witnessing history. Floyd made an interesting comment that this very well could be his last fight. I was shocked. This was news to me. We have a long-term deal with our partner, Showtime. But we never know, come Saturday night this could be it. Any and everything we do is getting a glimpse of history. This will never be duplicated again. Never."

To put into perspective just how long Mayweather has been a dominant force in boxing, look no further than Robert Garcia, Maidana's trainer. In 1998, Mayweather was a junior lightweight champion at the same time that Garcia also held a 130-pound world title. Had Garcia beaten the late Diego Corrales in early 1999, there was a good chance he would have faced Mayweather in a unification fight.

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez
AP Photo/Eric JamisonFloyd Mayweather Jr. is trying to extend his winning streak to 46 with a win against Marcos Maidana.

But Corrales, later knocked out by Mayweather in one of his career-best performances, stopped Garcia in the seventh round. Garcia fought four more times and was retired by 2001 before establishing himself as one of the world's elite trainers several years later.

"We were champions at the same time in '98 and it's something we have to admire and respect that 16 years later he's still world champion," Garcia said. "He came to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It's amazing."

Although Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs), of Las Vegas, will still have three more fights remaining on the gargantuan $200 million-plus six-fight deal he signed last year with Showtime/CBS, he is not sure if he will complete the agreement.

Although it would be hard to imagine the fight with the 30-year-old Maidana being his swan song, regardless of the outcome, Mayweather said he does think about calling it a day after Saturday's bout.

"If I feel like walking away, I'll walk away. I want to settle down and get married," Mayweather said. "As I get older I want to settle down and be with my family. I've had enough fun."

Mayweather also sometimes feels the burden of his celebrity, which can be crushing.

"When I sit back sometimes in my bed and I turn on the TV, I look and I [see things and say], 'I miss doing that by myself.' I want to go places by myself. I want to do things by myself," he said. "You think I always want to go to the movie theater and take security? I want to do things by myself sometimes.

"I want to come to the casino by myself and play blackjack by myself. I want to be able to travel. If I have a wife, I want to be able to travel, just me and her. I want to be able to do one-on-one things, but guess what -- it's a gift and a curse."

Even before the Maidana fight was signed, Mayweather had said several times that he planned to retire at the end of the Showtime/CBS contract, which, if he ran the table, would bring him to 49-0.

Of course, one more fight beyond the deal could potentially move him to 50-0. That is a mighty attractive round number.

"Everybody talking about 50-0 and everybody talking about 51-0, but we take one fight at a time," Mayweather said. "Different days I feel different ways."

Make no mistake, Mayweather said he has prepared as hard as always for the assignment against Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs), the powerful brawler from Argentina aiming for the big upset.

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather Jr.
AP Photo/Isaac BrekkenPound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. will meet Marcos Maidana for the 147-pound title on Saturday.

"I want him to bring his best, and he may be the first guy to make me dig in my bag of tricks and pull out my A-game," Mayweather said. "Hopefully, he make me pull out my A-game. My whole career all I had to use was a D- and C-game to beat every guy. I never had to use an A-game or a B-game, so we'll just have to wait and see.

"Everybody keeps asking who is going to crack the 'May-Vinci Code.' Everybody's game plan is come straight ahead, keep pressure, hit him on the leg, hit him on the hip, hit him with a low blow. Head-butt him. I still find a way to win. This guy right here is super fast, this guy got a good left hook, this guy got a good right hand, this guy goes to the body good. I still find a way to win. This guy got good defense, this guy got the best jab, this guy throw combinations. I still find a way to win. Saturday, I'll find a way to win."

On one hand, Mayweather said he thinks about retiring, but on the other he said he wants to keep fighting for the sake of his legacy.

"When you mention boxing all I want you to mention is one name -- that's Floyd Mayweather, and that's what I'm here to do. Before my career's over I don't want you talking about nobody else, nobody else."

Yet, Mayweather once again sidestepped the question about Pacquiao when asked why he wouldn't fight the one opponent the public truly wants to see him fight.

"I just want to say congratulations to Manny Pacquiao on his last fight," Mayweather said of the Filipino icon's unanimous decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. to regain a welterweight title in their April 12 rematch. "He got the victory, and Floyd Mayweather fights for Floyd Mayweather."

When Mayweather saw a couple of reporters shake their heads at his non-answer, he politely piped up, "I'm gonna answer the questions the way I want to answer them."

But for all the talk of his legacy, there are then suddenly the thoughts of retirement. Mayweather is conflicted and admits it.

"I'm only human. I make mistakes, I ain't perfect," he said. "If one of my children are hurt, I hurt. My mother's hurt, I hurt. My father's hurt, I hurt. God only made one thing perfect."

Long pause.

"My boxing record," Mayweather said, laughing.

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