Floyd unfazed by jail term, Cotto

Mayweather has been tranquil during the buildup to Saturday's title bout

Updated: May 5, 2012, 2:09 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- For months, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has had a singular purpose and mindset: to be prepared for battle against junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto.

They meet Saturday night (9 ET, HBO PPV, $59.95) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the year's biggest fight so far, and Mayweather has been relaxed almost to the point of sleepiness, even with a fast-approaching jail sentence hanging over his head.

"Well, you've got certain obstacles that get in your way throughout your career, but you have to be a strong individual," Mayweather said. "If anyone has followed my career, they know that there's been a lot of obstacles and a lot of ups and down through my career. But day in and day out, and in the square circle, I went out there and always did my best. I always put my boxing first."

On Wednesday afternoon, at the final news conference for the fight, Mayweather said the reason he sounded so tired was, well, he had just woken up so he could come and meet the media.

Sleeplessness in the wake of what he faces is clearly not an issue.

What is impressive about Mayweather's calm demeanor is that he seems so relaxed despite what probably would be on anyone else's mind if they were in his shoes. Less than a month after the fight -- on June 1 -- Mayweather is due to report for an 87-day sentence at the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas.

"This is just another one of those challenges in front of him," said Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's closest adviser. "He'll find a way to dissect it and overcome it. Floyd Mayweather is cut from a different cloth. He's not like your average fighter, your average human being. That's what makes him who he is."

Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) was originally supposed to report to jail on Jan. 6, but Nevada judge Melissa Saragosa sided with Mayweather's legal team and allowed him to delay his report date so he could honor a commitment to the MGM Grand for Saturday's fight, which is expected to pump something in the neighborhood of $100 million into the Las Vegas economy.

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather
Chris McPherson for ESPN The MagazineFeeling tense? If Floyd Mayweather Jr. is stressed over his impending jail term, even his closest confidants don't see it.

In December, Mayweather, who was facing a maximum of 34 years in prison, took a plea bargain offer under which he pleaded to a reduced domestic violence charge and no-contest on two harassment charges stemming from a September 2010 incident in which he allegedly attacked his ex-girlfriend, Josie Harris, while two of their children watched. Mayweather was sentenced to six months in jail, but Saragosa suspended the ruling three months and the fighter had three days' credit.

With good behavior, Mayweather could be out by early August. But for most people, an imminent jail term would be a huge distraction. If it is to Mayweather, however, he has done a superb job of disguising it as he readies for Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs).

"June 1 is just June 1," Mayweather said. "I'm here to fight. Me going to jail is just another day, it's just another day. I don't even worry about that. I'm being honest. One thing about me: I'm not going to bull---- you. I don't really think about it. My main focus is to go out there and do my job and be at my best doing my job."

Rapper 50 Cent is one of Mayweather's close friends. He has been around Mayweather's training camp and also has served time. He knows what Mayweather is facing.

"One day is two days too many to spend without being able to get up and go and move as you please," 50 Cent said on HBO's "24/7" series, which followed the buildup to the fight. "I think he's not gonna actually think about that part, how uncomfortable it can be. It's almost like [when your mother yells], 'Wait 'til your father gets home!' Waiting is worse than the actual ass-whupping you get when you get there, if you get it. It will be a therapeutic process for him and thinking about his life for the longer period of time."

Cotto has nothing to say about Mayweather's impending jail term, never raising the subject during the promotion as a way to perhaps unnerve him.

That's the opposite of the approach Mayweather took almost 10½ years ago during the promotion of his January 2001 junior lightweight championship defense against the late Diego "Chico" Corrales. Corrales was facing a prison sentence after the fight for beating his pregnant girlfriend.

Mayweather hammered Corrales about the incident throughout the rancor-filled promotion. He said he was going to invite Corrales' girlfriend to sit ringside so she could watch him beat up Corrales. Mayweather also repeatedly said he planned to beat Corrales "for all the battered women across America. Just like he beat that woman, I'm going to beat him."

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and Mayweather -- whose father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., and uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, have also been incarcerated -- has been on his best behavior. He said he was appreciative of Saragosa allowing him to make a living, because fighting on Saturday will allow him to earn probably at least $35 million.

"I don't think nobody is stopping the judge from making a living. She's a great person. The judge is a great person," Mayweather said. "The decision she made was her decision. I don't have nothing against her. I wish her nothing but the best. All I can do is live and learn -- take it as a learning experience and keep living my life."

Ellerbe, who will oversee Mayweather's business interests while he is locked up (including laying the groundwork for a fall fight), backed up Mayweather's claim that he is focused solely on the fight with Cotto and not June 1.

"Floyd Mayweather ain't thinking about what's ahead or what's coming," Ellerbe said. "That never even crosses his mind -- at least he never mentions it to me. He's the strongest-willed individual I have ever met. Any challenge that is put in front of him, Floyd Mayweather will overcome. That's just his makeup. So this is another obstacle that was put in front of him. He will overcome it and take some positive out of a negative.

Even when pressed on the jail issue, Mayweather remained almost nonchalant about it.

"My thing is, I try to turn anything negative into something positive," he said. "That's why when I go to the gym, when I see my family and I see my team and I see my fans come support me every day, it's a motivational builder for me. So even when I go away, the only thing it can do is make me mentally strong and grow mentally strong as a person.

"Certain things you go through in life is an obstacle. It's all part of life. You have good days, you have bad days. But the main thing is to grow mentally."

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