By Mitch Abramson
Assistant trainer and close friend Nate Jones wasn’t caught off guard by Floyd Mayweather’s acknowledgement that Saturday’s fight against Marcos Maidana could be his last.
Nearly two years ago, Floyd Mayweather Jr. began to discuss the idea of retirement, Jones said. Mayweather had grown tired of the long press tours, the probing questions by reporters. The routine of resuscitating his body after a tough fight had begun to wear at him. He thought enough was enough, Jones said.
“He’d just become tired of the training, the rigors of the sport, the media, the tours, people begging him for stuff,” Jones said on Wednesday. “He’s just tired of the regimen, of the whole game. He wants to get away sometimes. Now that his kids are taken care of, he thinks about it.”
Mayweather (45-0, 26 knockouts) articulated that thought on Tuesday, telling reporters he thinks about retiring from the sport on a near daily basis and that he could step away after Saturday’s welterweight unification match with Maidana (34-3, 31 knockouts) at the MGM Grand on Showtime PPV. It was perhaps the first time that Mayweather, 37, had ever publicly uttered the idea of walking away following a fight and it caught a lot of those close to him off guard. His close friend and adviser, Leonard Ellerbe admitted to being surprised by the comment. Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza was also startled by the admission.
“I’m not really worried about [going 50-0],” Mayweather told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m being honest- I be contemplating every day talking about getting out of the sport now. I’m very comfortable. Very comfortable.”
He repeated those comments on Wednesday at the final press conference that Saturday’s bout could be his last. He might retire, call it a day, get married and start a family, ending his time with a sterling 46-0 record if he wins. He’s guaranteed a purse of $32 million while Maidana is set to receive $1.5 million. The bout will produce the fourth largest gate in the history of the sport with nearly $15 million, Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy said on Wednesday.
“If I choose to walk away then I walk away,” Mayweather said on Wednesday “It’s just me being a human being. If I feel like walking away then I’m walking away.”
Later, he said: “I can’t really say what’s going to happen with my future. I don’t know if this is my last fight or not. I take one fight at a time. I can’t overlook this guy. As a human being and a man I’m able to do what I want to do with my career,” Mayweather said of why he would walk away.
“I want to settle down and get married,” he said at one point of why he would step away. “And have a family.”
At another point he said: “I don’t really focus on being 48-0 or 49-0,” he said. “All I do is take one fight at a time. It’s adding up.”
Jones reiterated the toll the sport has taken on Mayweather.
“Just the regimen, the responsibility, having to look out for other people,” Jones said of the many responsibilities and burdens that Mayweather has to deal with. “He’s just tired of everything in and out of the ring. The reason he went this far is to make sure his kids are stable and now that they are taken care he’s now thinking of [retiring]. He still gets the urge to train hard and he wants to retire the best that ever did it but he doesn’t know if that will happen before the end of the [Showtime] contract.”
Mayweather is basically obsessed with his place in history and his desire to go down as an all-time great. And he admitted to being torn with those dual desires- his wish to step down and also keep furthering his place in the pantheon of all-time fighters.
“When my career is over,” he told reporters on Tuesday, “I don’t want y’all talking about nobody else.”
Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, spoke of this uncertainty. “Sometimes he feels one way one day [about retiring] and another way another day,” he said.
Mayweather snickered when someone asked if he had any health concerns that were causing him to reassess his career. “I didn’t say if I had health problems or anything,” he said. “But if I feel like walking away- if an artist wants to stop painting then I reached my limit and I’m going to stop painting.”
He chuckled again at the suggestion that he’d be foolish to retire while he’s still at the top of his game. He dominated the much-younger Saul (Canelo) Alvarez last September and toyed with Robert Guerrero in May of last year. “I’m in my prime and almost 40?” he said. “Well what was I doing when I was 20?”
If Mayweather does call it a day after Saturday, he would fail to fulfill his well-paid six-fight contract with Showtime. The bout with Maidana would be the third of the deal. But Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza said it was Mayweather’s right to step aside.
“He’s not obligated to fight that many times,” Espinoza said following the press conference. “If he wants to retire- if he wants to fight then he’s going to fight with us. And if he decides not to fight we can thank him for what he’s given to the sport and wouldn’t begrudge him on it at all. We certainly wouldn’t sue him. I may do my best to talk him out of it. But there would be no legal ramifications.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com. Tags: Floyd Mayweather Jr.