Boxing: Jail is not a problem – it will make me just like Malcolm X, says Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jnr insists on his innocence ahead of his impending prison sentence

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The Independent Online

He used to be known as Pretty Boy but now Floyd Mayweather Jnr wishes to be called Money – no doubt because it is a commodity he loves above everything else, apart from himself. Boxing's supreme craftsman, eight times an undefeated champion in five different weight classes, returns to the ring in Las Vegas next Saturday in the biggest fight of the year, against the Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.

Mayweather's considerable fortune will be enriched by some $30 million (£18.4m) but he will have plenty of time to count his cash for just over three weeks later he enters a Nevada jail to serve a 90- day sentence for assaulting a former girlfriend, Josie Harris, and threatening to harm two of their children. He was also ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and complete 100 hours of community service after agreeing to a plea deal. Mayweather was said to have hit Miss Harris, twisted her arm and threatened to make her "disappear".

Remaining on file are various unresolved charges of assault, battery and coercion laid by people who claim to have been punched by Mayweather. He has also been involved in a dispute with his father Floyd Snr, a former fighter, famouslybrawling with him in the gym. The wounds of their relationship are deep-seated, tracing back to when Floyd Snr held up his baby son as a shield during a gangland shoot-out in the late 1970s.

Mayweather's mother was also ravaged by drug addiction and he says of his father, who trained him for a time, "Of course my dad was a drug dealer, a hustler, you know my background. But it's not so abnormal, most young black people go through the same in life."

However, the prospect of incarceration does not faze him. Insisting on his innocence, he said from Las Vegas last week: "Am I guilty? Absolutely not. I took the plea. Sometimes they put us in a no-win situation. I had no choice but I don't worry about going to jail. Better men than me have been there. I'm prettysure Martin Luther King's been there, and Malcolm X. I have taken the good with the good so I'll accept the bad with the bad. It's just an obstacle that's put in your way. I can get through anything. I know the truth and I am not worried."

Not since Muhammad Ali has there been a fighter as much a law unto himself as 35-year-old Mayweather who, like Ali, has the ability to match his arrogance. He even proclaims himself as the greatest boxer of all time. "Muhammad Ali was one hell of a fighter but Floyd Mayweather is the best."

Mayweather may have been accused of many lapses into notoriety but as a boxer he is unblemished and ruthless in his dedication. He moves back up to light-middleweight to fight for the WBA Diamond Belt held by Cotto, 31, himself a three-weight world champion with only two losses in 37 fights. Cotto has the pedigree to scupper what would be the richest fight in history – Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao – if it ever happens, which Floyd Jnr doubts. But he could be a little leg-weary by the time the supreme master of back-foot boxing has manoeuvred him around the ring for a dozen rounds or less. For all his bling, bullshine and braggadocio, his is a class act.

"Everyone is entitled to judge a person as they want, but I've got a good heart and all I've ever done is dedicate myself to boxing. Because I am not getting up off the canvas eight times like Rocky with a busted eye, it doesn't mean I am not an all-time great or that I am not the best fighterto go down in history.

"Like I have always said – there is no remedy on how to beat Floyd Mayweather. It's like a difficult maths problem that no one can solve. I was born a winner and I'll die a winner."

Mayweather v Cotto is live on BoxNation (Sky channel 456/Virgin 546) on Saturday:

Roll of dishonour: Boxing's jailbird champs

Mike Tyson World heavyweight champion, sentenced to six years in prison in 1992 for rape.

Sonny Liston World heavyweight champion, sentenced to five years in 1950 for armed robbery and eight months in 1957 for assaulting a police officer.

Bernard Hopkins World light-heavyweight champion, sentenced to four and half years in early 1980s for armed robbery.

Rocky Graziano World middleweight champion, briefly jailed in 1930s for probation violations and going AWOL from the army.

Jack Johnson First black world heavyweight champion, given one-year sentence in 1913 for 'transporting women across the state line for immoral purposes'.

Alan Hubbard