Floyd Mayweather v Saul Alvarez preview: The insane world of Mayweather and The Money Team
He will make $41.5m when he defends his belt this weekend, flies two jets, has colour-coded limos for each house he owns, buys $3m watches and has an entourage who are cashing in on him cashing in
Friday 13 September 2013
Floyd Mayweather buys diamond-encrusted watches for $3 million because he can, and with each purchase a chorus from his devoted flock of "dedication, hard work" probably plays somewhere inside his head.
On Saturday at the MGM casino in Las Vegas, Mayweather will receive a guaranteed purse of $41.5m (£26.25m) for the latest and most lucrative fight of his career – a defence of his WBA World light-middleweight title and for Saul Alvarez's WBC belt. Mayweather is 36, unbeaten in 44 fights and has been the world's highest-earning sportsman since 2011. He is living a nice little fantasy, which is so often filmed to hype his fights, that the boundaries of sense have been blurred.
If Floyd wants to play a full game of basketball at 2am then a few million dollars worth of luxury cars – colour-coded so that Mayweather knows which mansion he is living in when he gets in the vehicle – will be scrambled. The Money Team is always ready, and always waiting for their boss to make a decision. It's the Elvis entourage without sideburns.
Mayweather is fast becoming as enigmatic and strange as some of the other celebrities who have lived, played and died in Las Vegas during the last 25 years. He has that essential obsession with cleanliness that eccentrics acquire with wealth, which is odd for a man who is a genius in the blood, snot and hurt business of boxing. He only wears pants, socks and shoes once and continually cleans his hands.
Chinese emperors had a man in their court to sample their stools and check for any health problems. Now, I have never seen a member of the Money Team follow their leader into a toilet, but something similar would not surprise me because Mayweather is the consummate professional. It is not so ridiculous: Muhammad Ali had a man in his camp who licked the fighter's sweat to test for hydration levels.
When Mayweather travels he takes two private jets. One for him and his bag, stuffed with a million in cash, and a masseuse with eight-inch heels and fragrant oils for his feet. The other jet is packed with his bodyguards and the booty from an endless stream of shopping trips. Recent revelations in a magazine claim he likes to use two private jets because he is afraid his beefy minders will make the plane crash if they travel with him. It is like Imelda Marcos having a Gulfstream ready on the runway packed with her shoes. He has graduated from burning $100 bills, which was fine for shock value, to real bizarre behaviour. However, his charity handouts are not always filmed. He has also surrounded himself with waifs and strays and, unlike the thugs that shadowed Mike Tyson, they are a decent bunch of men with their own hard stories and emotional tales of struggles. Mayweather knows a genuine story when he hears one.
He has his own story and, when a baby, was once famously used as a human shield during a shoot-out in a crack house. His father, Floyd Snr, tried to avoid the bullet by waving the toddler from side to side in rhythm with the barrel of the gun that an irate family member was holding; it failed and Floyd Snr was shot in the leg and Floyd Jnr crashed to the floor. It's a great story and most of it, we are assured, is true. Since that night Floyd Snr has been to prison on a serious drug charge and baby Floyd has become boxing's biggest attraction. Since that night baby Floyd has also been to prison, serving 65 days last year for a domestic dispute.
The son and father have been at war for years but are united now and working, finally, in sweet tandem. Floyd Snr took over the ring duties from his brother Roger last year and it has created a nice bit of friction inside the gym that the Mayweathers call home, a gym hidden in a nondescript little Las Vegas mall.
"Me and Roger? We don't talk all the time," admitted Floyd Snr, who still has to watch Roger take his son on the pads, which is part of the new deal. "It don't matter about us, it's about Floyd and making sure he gets through the fights." Roger has diabetes and his sight is deteriorating. However, he is not happy about the situation and told me: "It's just the muthafuckin' way it is, it's business."
"Floyd told me that he wanted me to come back," continued Floyd Snr, "That was all; we are blood. We had a dispute, people have disputes. Sometimes they kill each other, shoot 'em and stab 'em to death. That didn't happen with us. Floyd knew that I was talking sense and that he needs speed because if you are slow in this game you get messed up." The pair started working together after Mayweather had a scare in his fight against Miguel Cotto in May last year.
"I over-trained for the Cotto fight," admitted Mayweather. "I will never make that mistake again and my dad saw it, saw the mistake. He tells me to rest and knows what is best for me." Mayweather will have his dad in the corner on Saturday night.
It is inside the palatial gym that Mayweather's people endlessly chant his sparse anthem: "dedication, hard work". During the films that accompany his fights the choristers are always in fine voice, led from the ring by their conductor; nobody, you see, is as devoted to the art of boxing as Mayweather. He is – forget the glitz, pools, women, minders, cars, and millions – a boxing bore.
As a clear sign of his meticulous planning Mayweather understands every aspect of his body and every critical ounce. His devotion is obvious on fight night, having trained for three months, when he gains just three or four pounds from the previous night's weigh-in. His opponent on Saturday, Saul Canelo Alvarez, is expected to put on as much as 20lb, which is about average for most of the men who Mayweather has met in recent years. Alvarez, by the way, is 13 years younger, naturally bigger and unbeaten in 43 fights. The young Mexican will make a guaranteed $10m, which could double if the pay-per-view TV figures continue to grow. It's a real fight, not a carnival offering.
If Mayweather was British one suspects that some people would look at his flaws and brilliance and start calling him a national treasure. It helps that he is boxing's greatest modern artist.
The Money Team: Mayweather's men
Not content to sell just himself, Brand Mayweather includes the men behind the man: The Money Team. Described on their Facebook page as a collective who share "a lifestyle born out of hard work and dedication", you can buy – should you want – The Money Team merchandise bearing the TMT logo or other slogans such "Damn Life I$ Good" from their official website. Caps are available priced between $45 and $100. Tank tops start at $30 and you can even buy an iPhone cover for the small sum of $35.
When you're Floyd Mayweather, even your entourage get a clothing line. Kerching!
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