Lem Satterfield

‘Older, wiser’ Mayweather to face Alvarez

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — By nearly 5:00 p.m., approximately five hours after having arrived for the scheduled 1:00 p.m. press conference, Floyd Mayweather Jr. still was signing autographs for the close to 1,000 fans who had packed the Howard Theatre on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon.

The event marked the second in an 11-city promotional tour featuring Mayweather (44-0, 26 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, and THE RING 154-pound champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) in advance of their clash on Sept. 14 Showtime Pay Per View at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

A day earlier, at New York’s Times Square, it was Alvarez, a 22-year-old Mexican star, who was the more popular boxer to the partisan Latino crowd of around 2,000 who chanted his nickname “Canelo.”

But at the Howard Theatre, it was the eight-belt winning Mayweather who rallied the fans with his mantra, shouting “hard work,” and eliciting their responses of “dedication” during his turn at the podium.

Then, long after the conference had ended, Mayweather, 36, lingered to both take and sign photographs, in addition to writing his signature on items ranging from boxing gloves to “foam fingers.”

“I’m happy to be in this position. I love being in this position. I think that it’s extremely exciting. The crowd loves it, I love it. I don’t really know how the other fighter feels,” said Mayweather, who, last June, topped Forbes’ list of its 100 highest paid athletes internationally, trumping second-place boxing rival Manny Pacquiao with $62 million from earnings and endorsements.

“Canelo is one of the top guys in the sport of boxing. This is what he wanted, this is what I wanted, this is what the fans want. Why not take the fight now? Time waits for no one. It’s about giving the fans excitement. It’s about going out there and putting on a tremendous show. I feel that we’re both going to go out there and put on a helluva fight. That’s my gut feeling.”

Mayweather is coming off a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Robert Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs) in May.

The triumph over Guerrero had followed a two-month jail stint from June 1 through Aug. 3 that had been preceded by a a unanimous decision win over Miguel Cotto by unanimous decision last May 5 of last year.

Against Guerrero, Mayweather reunited with Floyd Mayweather Sr., his former trainer, for the first time in just over 13 years, apparently ending a widely-reported turbulent relationship.

The union with Floyd Sr. appears to be part of a more matrure, disciplined and potentially less controversial Floyd Jr.

“It’s a different Floyd, a Floyd who has matured and who realizes that he is the face of the sport and the highest paid athlete in the world, and he has assumed some of those responsibilities that go with that. A lot of fans are looking up to him. He’s become a different Floyd,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which is handling the fight with Mayweather Promotions.

“I don’t know if the jail had an impact on him, you guys have to ask him that, but it’s a definitely more more mature Floyd who approaches things differently, and he’s still a great self-promoter and still is involved in every aspect of the promotion, more than any fighter that I have ever seen. I think that it’s good for boxing that we have the No. 1 star growing more into that role model kind of situation and I think that’s great for the sport.”

But that doesn’t mean that Mayweather has any plans of being anything other than the dominant fighter he always has been, even as he tackles the difficult challenge of facing Mexico’s most popular young star in Alvarez, who turns 23 next month.

“Do I feel 36? I feel healthy and strong. I don’t know how any other 36-year-old guy feels, but I feel healthy and strong. I feel like I did when I was 19,” said Mayweather, who won his first world title as a 21-year-old 130-pounder with an eighth-round knockout of Genaro Hernandez in October of 1998.

“I feel like over the years, when  I look at my career, it was never bragging or boasting, because everything that I said I was going to do, I did. You’ve got guys that are talking about it, but they’re not doing it. That’s considered bragging or boasting. But everything that I’ve talked about in my career, I did. Like I’ve said before, I’m a lot older, I’m a lot wiser.”

On Monday night, not long after arriving in Washington, D.C., an energetic Mayweather and some of his close, local associates even played some basketball at Dunbar High in Washington, D.C.

“They’ve got some legends from Dunbar from what I hear,” said Mayweather, who said that action took place somewhere between midnight and 1 a.m.

Against Alvarez, Mayweather will be fighting twice within the same year for the first time since 2007, when he defeated both Oscar De La Hoya by unanimous decision in May of that year, and Ricky Hatton, the latter, by 10th-round stoppage in December of that year for the first loss of Hatton’s career.

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“I think that I’m going to be a lot sharper because I’m active,” Mayweather, who ended a 21-month ring absence when he unanimously decisioned Juan Manuel Marquez in September of 2009.

“That’s no different from a guy that’s in a three-point shooting contest. If you got a guy that’s shooting every day, and a guy that’s shooting once a week, the guy that’s shooting every day is going to be a lot sharper. I think that staying active, I’m going to be extremely sharp.”

In victory over Alvarez, when will Mayweather fight again?

“The month of May, since I’m Mayweather, that’s always a great time for me,” said Mayweather. “So we see us fighting again in May, and then, fighting again in September.”

 

Remaining schedule for Floyd Mayweather-Alvarez:

Wednesday, June 26

Grand Rapids, MI

Location: Houseman Field

162 Houseman Avenue NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fan Arrival Time: 11:00 a.m. ET

Press Conference Begins: 12:00 p.m. ET

Chicago, IL

Location: Chicago Theatre

175 North State Street

Chicago, IL 60601

Fan Arrival Time: 5:00 p.m. CT

Press Conference Begins: 6:00 p.m. CT

Thursday, June 27

Atlanta, GA

Location: Centennial Olympic Park – Southern Company Amphitheatre

265 Park Avenue West NW (Marietta Street & Andrew Young International Boulevard)

Atlanta, GA 30363

Fan Arrival Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Press Conference Begins: 1:00 p.m. ET

Friday, June 28

Miami, FL

Location: Tina Hills Pavilion at Bayfront Park

301 North Biscayne Boulevard

Miami, FL 33132

Fan Arrival Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Press Conference Begins: 1:00 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 30

Mexico City, Mexico

Location information to be announced separately.

Monday, July 1

Houston, TX

Location: Union Station at Minute Maid Park (Main entrance)

501 Crawford Street

Houston, TX 77002

Fan Arrival Time: 12:00 p.m. CT

Press Conference Begins: 1:00 p.m. CT

San Antonio, TX

Location: The Alamo

300 Alamo Plaza

San Antonio, TX 78205

Fan Arrival Time: 5:00 p.m. CT

Press Conference Begins: 6:00 p.m. CT

Tuesday, July 2

Phoenix, AZ

Location: Herberger Theater

222 East Monroe Street

Phoenix, AZ 85004

Fan Arrival Time: 11:00 a.m. MT

Press Conference Begins: 12:00 p.m. MT

Los Angeles

Location: Nokia Plaza L.A. LIVE

777 Chick Hearn Court

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Fan Arrival Time: 6:30 p.m. PT

Press Conference Begins: 7:30 p.m. PT

 

Photo by Ester Lin, Showtime

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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