Floyd Mayweather Jr knows his audience, there is no doubt.
Boxing’s superstar arrived in South Africa on Wednesday wearing a T-shirt with a bright yellow map of Africa on the front. Below it, his TMT logo — that stands for The Money Team — was in the colors of the South African flag.
Mayweather told South African fans he had arrived in the “motherland.”
He even said he might fight there one day.
“Money” Mayweather swooped into Johannesburg for the start of a four-city visit to South Africa and first trip to the African continent, and was hustled by security straight through a packed airport terminal and into a Rolls Royce. He sped off with no more than a few words, delivered on the run, to hundreds who had gathered to greet him.
It did not seem to disappoint any of them.
Later, Mayweather was more generous with his time, speaking to reporters for around an hour about his future fight plans and this trip. Well, part of the audience was reporters. Many of those fans had also somehow infiltrated the news conference, beefy security and all, meaning there were fewer questions and more statements of Mayweather’s general greatness.
James Dalton, a former South African rugby international, stood up and thanked “Mr Mayweather” for making the trip and honoring South Africa.
Rugby players are a big deal in South Africa, but Mayweather apparently is bigger. The biggest thing in boxing.
No surprise that Mayweather earned a guaranteed US$41.5 million in his last bout, a dominating majority decision over Canelo Alvarez that was the richest fight in the world and made about US$150 million on TV sales alone.
And with those kinds of figures, the 36-year-old five-division world champion is in no rush to give in to Manny Pacquiao’s pleas for a fight, he said.
“As far as my last fight with... I can’t even remember the guy’s name. Canelo! They all the same to me,” Mayweather said. “So, as far as my fight with Canelo, they said Floyd Mayweather’s record could never be broken without the Pacquiao fight and as you have seen what we did, the fight done crazy numbers.”
Mayweather also suggested Pacquiao’s renewed desire to make their mega fight happen came out of desperation after the Filipino’s back-to-back losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, and his tax problems.
“I offered Manny Pacquiao the fight before,” Mayweather said. “We didn’t see eye to eye on terms. Years later, we come back and I try and make the fight happen again. I offer him US$40 million. He said he wanted 50-50. So we didn’t make the fight happen. All of a sudden, he loses to Timothy Bradley, he loses to Marquez ... he has tax problems now. So, two losses and tax problems later, now he all of a sudden want to say: ‘You know what? I’d do anything to make the fight happen,’ when he’s really saying: ‘Floyd, can you help me solve my tax problems, get me out of debt?”’
Instead, Mayweather named Britain’s Amir Khan and Argentina’s Marcos Maidana as contenders to be his next opponent on May 3 in Las Vegas. Mayweather said nothing was finalized, but they would know who it was within a week.
And it was not all business. Mayweather had a couple of pretty good wisecracks saved up, too.
He said he did not call himself “the greatest,” as that was Muhammad Ali. He rather referred to himself as “TBE” — the best ever.
Asked how he would go about fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr, he replied, deadpan: “I wouldn’t fight Floyd Mayweather.”
Mayweather is due to also visit the cities of Bloemfontein, East London and Cape Town on his near week-long trip, which South Africa says will help “resuscitate” its own struggling boxing code. And he gave South Africans a glimmer of hope of their own Mayweather mega-fight.
“It’s been a dream of mine to fight here,” he said.