Humble. Quiet. Polite. Contemplative, even. These aren’t the words one would have normally used to describe Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the past. These aren’t the words this author, nor the soldiers assigned to Task Force Duke at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan, used to describe Mayweather following an overseas Skype session in 2011.
The date was Sept. 2 of that year, and Mayweather was just weeks from squaring off against Victor Ortiz, the World Boxing Council welterweight champion at the time.
“Ortiz? Ha. It’s gonna be like taking candy from a baby,” said Mayweather of that fight more than three years ago. “I have a lot of experience, I’ve been places in this sport he will never go in his career.”
He even went after Manny Pacquiao while Skyping with the troops that day.
“Poochiao don’t want this,” he said. “He can’t say nothing, he’s getting my leftovers,” said Mayweather. He then insinuated he was working on “the biggest contract ever” against the Filipino world champion, as he simulated a syringe going into his arm to mock the other fighter.
That was more than three years go. Fast forward to present day. The very fight Mayweather said was in the making then is now just a handful of days away. And Mayweather is no longer that brash, smug, and self-assured personality he was back then. At least he didn’t sound that way to this author, who participated in that very Skype session in 2011, and most recently Wednesday in an international teleconference with the boxing star.
“You’ve been respectful … of Pacquiao getting here [to this fight],” said one reporter on the call, highlighting it was not necessarily Mayweather’s style to act so gracefully toward his opponents.
“Obviously,” responded Mayweather, “he’s done something right to get here.”
Strangely, no trash talk toward his long-time hypothetical nemesis.
Some say you have to “train harder” and work harder the older you get, said Kevin Mitchell of the Guardian (the only reporter I could make out a name for during the teleconference).
“When you are at this level you want to perform very well. At this point I don’t want to over train,” said Mayweather, suggesting he made adjustments to his pre-fight training regimen to account for his age.
Maybe his age is getting to him. His is 38 after all.
Another reporter repeated an observation he claimed many share, which is that Mayweather is “stronger and fitter than ever.”
“That’s what people say every day. I’m at the pinnacle of my career,” said Mayweather, oddly enough without a hint of hubris. Not even a smidge.
Still, at 38 he’s in better shape than most olympians. This author’s opinion.
When asked about possible future opponents following his bout May 2, Mayweather shrugged off the question.
“[I] take one fight at a time. This time that opponent is Manny Pacquiao,” he said, ending the conjecture there.
Wow. Not even a single jab at Pac-Man.
Someone made the comment it appeared Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddy Roach, was orchestrating an information campaign against Mayweather designed to rattle him and throw off his focus. He brushed that off as well, but with unexpected humility.
“I’m not on the computer, picking up magazines with me on the cover,” I’m not worried about what Freddy is doing,” said Mayweather of the suggestion Roach was trying to get into his head. “My job is to perform [on May 2, and that’s it],” he said.
Maybe it’s his focus that’s keeping him grounded. It is the “fight of the century” after all. At least the 21st Century.
Would the outspoken, cocky Mayweather of old sneak out at any point?
Late in the call, after a reporter from TV One inquired about his relative silence leading up to the fight to that point, Mayweather finally shed some light on the reasoning behind his not-so-normal-for-him pre-fight, unpretentious alacrity. Here’s where some of his truer colors shone through. Sort of.
“[A] brilliant game plan. [I worked] extremely hard to get to a certain point in my career … [it involved] speaking out, trash talk, but as you get older, you mature,” said Mayweather, alluding to possibility of him being the first boxer in history to collect nine-figures in a single night May 2. “At this point I know what I gotta do. I did what I had to do.”
Awwww, there was a little bit of the Mayweather everyone knows. But, it didn’t last long.
A reporter from TV5 in Manila asked him about his strategy for the fight.
“You mean my game plan? My game plan is to win,” Mayweather said concisely.
She pressed him further.
“Give them what they want to see – the best facing the best. I’m glad this fight is happening,” said the undefeated boxer with measured calm.
The teleconference from start to finish could not have lasted more than 20 minutes. 25 perhaps. And Mayweather never approached the level of audacity – both the good, and not-so-good kind – he displayed during that Skype session in 2011. Perhaps it is a coming of age reaction for the prize fighter. Maybe the weight of this being the fight of the century has changed his outlook.
Or perhaps it’s the fact that he has, indeed, finally reached the pinnacle.
As to whether his game plan will pan out May 2, Mayweather gave an oddly subdued answer to that question early in the teleconference.
“I can’t predict the future. I’m going to give it my all in that ring.”
For the original story of Mayweather’s Skype session with troops from Afghanistan in 2011, visit http://dvidshub.net/r/4pwu4z