Floyd Mayweather has been a professional boxer since 1996 but is not expected to finally walk away from the sport until 2016, when his latest contract expires.
Mayweather fights Robert Guerrero tonight at the MGM casino in Las Vegas, a venue he has dubbed “Mayweather Gets Money”, in the first of a six-fight deal with American satellite channel ShowTime.
“I will be ready for the other side in 30 months,” vowed Mayweather, who up close is suddenly starting to look all of his 36 years. “I have the fights to finish and then I can go on the venture like Oscar [De La Hoya] and [Sugar Ray] Leonard. I’m fine now: still sharp, still witty and still winning.”
It would take a massive change in the way Mayweather operates for him to fight six more times in only 30 months, which is the plan, because his last six fights have been spread over six years. In many ways the breaks, the periods of rest and recuperation, are what have sustained him and allowed him to arrive in the ring fresh. Mayweather is never out of the gym but preparing for 12 championship rounds is not the same as ticking over.
Guerrero will be a difficult opponent tonight if Mayweather is backed to the ropes and caught again like he was by Miguel Cotto in his last fight, in May last year; it looked like Mayweather’s reactions had slowed that night and he was forced to stand and fight. In the Cotto brawl Mayweather had cuts, bruises and was hurt, which has led to the boxer allowing his estranged father, Floyd Sr, back inside his camp.
“He told me he wanted me to come back and that is all,” said Mayweather Sr, who will replace his own brother, Roger, as the chief second tonight. “We are blood and we had a dispute, just like other family people. Sometimes they kill ’em and shoot ’em and stab them to death. That never happened with us.”
After the Cotto fight Mayweather surrendered himself to the Clarke County Detention Centre in Las Vegas where he served 65 days for a domestic assault. “It changed me, it was hard. I was locked up 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. It was not a holiday,” he insisted.
The plan tonight, according to Mayweather Sr, is to focus on speed, but Mayweather is also naturally bigger even if both fighters are the same height and will be the same weight this evening. Mayweather was world champion at welterweight when Guerrero was world champion at featherweight in 2006, and that is over a stone difference; he has carried the extra with ease for a long time. Tonight’s fight is for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight title and Guerrero’s “interim” version of the same title – a situation I will not even attempt to explain.
Guerrero is six years younger and certainly has the style to beat this version of Mayweather, especially if he can fight at his fast pace. However, getting a decision over Mayweather, the casino resort’s best earner, will be hard, which might sound harsh but is strictly business. There is every chance that the fight will have some dubious moments as Mayweather avoids Guerrero’s wayward elbows and head with a few borderline moves of his own. “The Ghost” is a nice guy with a clean image but he is a dirty fighter and Mayweather, with the duo of Uncle Roger and Floyd Sr in his corner, is also skilled in boxing’s black arts. Mayweather can win late.
Meanwhile, in Mannheim tonight Wladimir Klitschko defends his IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight championship against a very fortunate Italian called Francesco Pianeta. Klitschko has to win and he will with ease because he is being paid $17.5m (£11.3m) to fight Alexander Povetkin in Berlin or Moscow in late August.
Money Mayweather: Floyd in numbers
£54.25m His estimated earnings last year, making him sport’s highest earner, ahead of Tiger Woods
29 Millions of pounds he earned for beating Miguel Cotto last May
43 Successive wins for Mayweather since his first bout in 1996