Commentary

In Their Words: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Originally Published: September 8, 2010
By ESPN.com

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has his share of critics, and he has given them fodder with his behavior outside the ring and some of his choices in opponents inside it. That said, it's difficult to argue that Mayweather -- who has won belts in five weight classes, has beaten the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales and has an unblemished record in 41 fights -- isn't one of boxing's all-time greats. His latest test will come Sept. 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO PPV) against welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz. Whether Ortiz would deserve to be mentioned among the great conquests in Mayweather's career or as just another notch on his title belts, he is unquestionably the first fighter in his prime that Mayweather has faced in years. As part of an ongoing feature leading up to the bout, Mayweather agreed to answer questions about the fight, his career and his life.

On what it means to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend:
Mexican Independence Day is a big fight weekend for boxing. You can't be the pay-per-view king without having Mexican fans. I appreciate that they have followed my fights. Whether for me or against me, I know they have been a part of my career. I might not have been born a Mexican, but I know that I have tremendous support from my Mexican fans.

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Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather Jr. toppled Juan Manuel Marquez on Mexican Independence Day weekend in 2009.

I have history with this weekend, too. I fought Juan Manuel Marquez on Mexican Independence Day weekend in 2009, and everyone knows what happened that night. I know that there will be plenty of people watching Sept. 17 when I fight Victor Ortiz. He might not be a Mexican legend like Marquez, but he is Mexican-American. Sure, he will have the support of his people, but I know lots of those fans will be cheering for me, too. The fans buying the fight are "Money" fans.

When I fought Oscar De La Hoya, which wasn't on the holiday weekend but [was] a record-breaking fight, I wore Mexican colors and a big sombrero. That was for all my Mexican fans. They know boxing and know a great fighter when they see one. They appreciate the sport, and I feel like they have tremendous respect for me and my undefeated record.

And because of the weekend, I made sure we gave the Mexican fans a great fight card, because Erik Morales, Canelo Alvarez and my fighter Jessie Vargas are all on the show in separate fights. I am looking forward to being on that big stage again with these other fighters. I know that on Sept. 17 when I face Victor Ortiz, it will be the same outcome. I am certainly not overlooking Ortiz, who is a young, hungry champion. But 41 have tried and 41 have failed. Different fighter, same outcome.


On what he bought with his first big check:
Everybody always wants to know what athletes do with their first big check. What did I do with my first big check? First, I think big is what you make it. I remember my first pro fight and getting paid when it was over. To be honest, at the time, that was my first "big" check. When you come from humble beginnings, any money seems like good money.

But when I got my first really big check, the first thing I did was buy my mother a house. She was still living in Grand Rapids [Mich.] at the time, and I wanted her to be with me in Las Vegas. I knew I was going to be successful in my career, so I wanted to start to take care of her and have her nearby, too. I actually moved the whole family at that time, too. I am very close to my family and it is nice to have everyone around.

On what TV shows he watches to relax after a long day of training:
I don't really watch television except for sports, like the NFL and NBA. You will rarely find me just lying back and watching television. My real passion is movies, and it is probably my No. 1 thing to do when I am trying to relax. I either go to the movie theater or watch them in my theater room at my house. It has two levels and two screens, so if I want to watch one movie and someone else wants to watch another one, they can go to the upper level and watch it. It is such a comfortable room, with big, red leather seats and surround-sound system, too. You feel like you are in the theater. But I do like to go out and love to watch a movie on the big screen. Recently, I actually have been renting out the whole theater to take my family and friends and see a movie in private when it first comes out.

And as a movie lover, I think it is great that people can actually see my fight in theaters across the country, too. It's me on the big screen -- "Money" Mayweather, the movie star -- appearing in the leading role on "Star Power: Mayweather vs. Ortiz" on Saturday, Sept. 17. I like the way that sounds.


On the importance of his fans, his best fan moment and connecting with fans via Twitter:

One of the best parts about my job is interacting with the fans. Without the fans, none of this would be possible. First and foremost, I fight for my family, my children. I want to give them the best life possible, so I remember that with every fight, and each victory is for them. And I even appreciate the fans that don't support me, either. It's all love.

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Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather Jr. says he tries to acknowledge his followers at every turn. "Without the fans," he said, "none of this would be possible."

But after my family and children, I fight for the fans. I have always appreciated their support, and when I am in public, there really isn't an autograph I won't sign. If it wasn't for the fans, I would not be the king of pay-per-view. I am in awe of their support, and that is why I go out of my way to make them happy. For my last four fight announcements, I have always made sure they are included by inviting them to the media tour press conferences. They show me such love and support, and it's for this reason that I can continue to train and work hard for each fight in front of me. The fans are what brought me back to the square circle this time, too. I knew that they waited long enough to see me fight again. So when I step into the ring against Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17, I plan on giving them another great performance. It's the only way to make them happy. It's the Mayweather way and experience.

I have had some great times with my fans over the years. When we announced this fight against Ortiz in June, we started the press tour in New York City and fans started to line up in the heat beginning at 6 a.m. [for a noon news conference]. The fans filled the two balconies at the Hudson Theatre in Times Square, and stayed for hours for autographs and pictures. Then we went to Los Angeles, and tons of fans came out to this event, too. We had it at night because it's Hollywood, baby, and we were promoting "Star Power." They, too, were lining up in the early morning to get a great seat to watch the show. My fans know that when I fight, it is a mega-event, and they wanted to be a part of it, which means the world to me.

But I think my most memorable fan moment was in London, England, when I went there to promote my fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. I told my CEO, Leonard Ellerbe, I wanted to do a public workout. He found the Peacock Boxing Gym, and we arranged for the workout and invited the fans. It was unbelievable how many people showed up. The gym was packed, standing room only. I let them come right to the edge of the ring and surround me on all sides while we worked out. The energy and commotion was something I will never forget. After we finished the workout, I walked out to the balcony of the building so the fans who waited hours to see me and couldn't get in the gym during the workout but were still there waiting for me felt my gratitude for their support. I remember we could barely make it back to our cars. It was a fantastic experience, and after my September fight, I plan to go back and do it again. This time we will find a bigger place.

I also have to give much love to my 1.5 million Twitter followers. When I announced that I was returning to the ring on my Twitter account, even I was amazed at how fast the news spread. I love being able to reach all of my fans at one time and all the time. The responses and messages I get every day are motivation for me to keep working hard in the gym and to bring home a win on Sept. 17.


On what it was like to win his first championship:
There is no better feeling than winning, but winning a world title is indescribable. I would know, because I have won all of my fights and am a six-time world champion in five weight classes.

I won my first championship more than a decade ago. Everyone knows boxing is in my blood, and I wanted a title shot as soon as I turned pro in 1996, but I had to wait for that opportunity until Oct. 3, 1998, when I fought Genaro Hernandez for the WBC super featherweight title. I was young and hungry.

The fight was in Las Vegas, and Hernandez was undefeated in the weight class at the time. It was a good fight, but when Hernandez threw in the towel in the eighth round, I knew that the word "champion" would always be attached to my name. That was Hernandez's last professional fight. It's sad to say that Hernandez passed away this past year at age 45. I respected him as a man and as a fighter. He gave me my first opportunity to win a world title. He will be missed, and may he rest in peace.

I was a young professional and a rising star who fought anyone they asked me to fight to help me get to where I am today. That fight was a key moment for me and helped me set my path to the rest of my championships and the boxing greatness I have achieved in my career. I continue that same motto today, as I have always been willing and ready to face the best opposition available for me to fight. On Sept. 17, I am facing a hungry, strong champion in Victor Ortiz.

Ortiz is a world-class fighter and the current welterweight champion, but I am the best. I am back in the gym training 24/7 and am excited to fight on Sept. 17. So tune in to HBO pay-per-view and be part of another Mayweather experience. Ortiz better be ready, because I will be. I am very blessed to have the career I have in boxing.