Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Mayweather cashes in on ‘handpicked’ opponents

AFP, HOLLYWOOD, California

Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr of the US arrives at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday, ahead of his fight with Saul Alvarez of Mexico on Saturday. Alvarez is also undefeated, with one draw.

Photo: Reuters

Floyd Mayweather Jr says his undefeated record has been partly built on the backs of handpicked opponents who did not always provide the toughest fights, but did help him become the world’s best-paid athlete.

“Sometimes they say: ‘Well, Floyd Mayweather’s opponents was handpicked.’ That’s a good thing,” Mayweather said during a conference call with reporters to hype Saturday’s world title fight against Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. “I commend my team... when I sit back and I think about my career, I say: ‘You know what? I had a cool career. I didn’t take any punishment.’”

“If they say these guys were handpicked, they was handpicked to make $40 and $50 and $60 million, then you know what? Keep handpicking them. If they’re going to keep paying, keep handpicking them,” he said.

Mayweather, who Forbes magazine lists as the world’s highest paid athlete, has been criticized for dodging a potential mega fight with Philippine superstar Manny Pacquiao.

The two have tried several times over the past few years to get the deal done for what would likely be the most lucrative fight in boxing history. However, each time, negotiations broke down when they could not come to terms on a variety of issues, including drug testing and share of the revenue and purses.

Pacquiao’s camp blames Mayweather for the holdup, saying that even when they agreed to all his demands — including drug testing — the American would come up with new increased demands to scuttle the blockbuster fight.

“Floyd’s statement speaks for itself. Now we know why he won’t give the fans the fight they want most,” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said on Tuesday.

The fight with Alvarez is the second in Mayweather’s six-bout, 30-month contract with US cable network Showtime that could pay him more than US$200 million. After Mayweather beat Robert Guerrero in May, he said he wanted to fight again in September — marking the first time since 2007 he will be in the ring twice in a calendar year.

Mayweather’s guaranteed purse for the Alvarez fight is reported to be a record US$41 million, which would surpass the previous record of US$32 million he received for fighting Guerrero.

Organizers are also hoping that this fight will eclipse the 2.44 million record pay-per-view sales and sales of more than US$130 million racked up by the Mayweather-Oscar de la Hoya fight in 2007. Mayweather will also get a cut of the pay-per-view money on top of his guaranteed purse.

Mayweather, who is undefeated in 44 fights, says he will take nothing for granted when he faces WBC and WBA super welterweight champ Alvarez in a 12-round showdown of unbeaten fighters at the MGM Grand Hotel.

“I am not overlooking this guy,” Mayweather said. “In Mexico, he is a young rock star and everybody that they put in front of him, he was able to go out there and do his job. I am pushing myself to the limit right now.”

The last time Mayweather stopped an opponent inside the distance was two years ago, and that came when Victor Ortiz lowered both his hands and was looking at the referee for a ruling. Mayweather seized the moment and hit Ortiz with a combination of punches that floored Ortiz.

Since then, Mayweather has won 12-round decisions over Miguel Cotto in May last year and Guerrero.

Saturday’s fight will be contested at 152 pounds (69kg) with Alvarez’s super welterweight titles on the line. Alvarez (42-0-1) is a 154-pound (69.9kg) champion and Mayweather usually fights at 147 pounds (66.7kg).

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