By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Floyd Mayweather Jr. was an impressionable, boxing-loving 5-year-old the day Duk Koo Kim suffered a beating against Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini that cost the young South Korean fighter his life in November 1982.
Mayweather never forgot the horror he witnessed during that infamous fight. It is among the reasons Mayweather wants to retire from this brutal business a healthy, wealthy man, long before one of the most effective defensive fighters ever is physically unable to avoid taking punishment in a boxing ring that could ruin his life once he stops fighting for a living.
“I wish Ali could be in a better predicament at this particular point in time, so, of course, I could joke with him and have fun with him,” a reflective Mayweather said during the 11-city, nine-day press tour to promote his Sept. 14 pay-per-view showdown with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. “And, you know, Sugar Ray Leonard’s got a detached retina. So you just look at a lot of abuse that these fighters have took. And I don’t want to be in that same position, taking that type of punishment. But Sugar Ray Leonard’s still very articulate and he’s a legend. Ali’s a legend, too.”
Boxing’s unbeaten pound-for-pound king later added, “I’ve got to think about my life after boxing. So I think about my four beautiful children.”
The 36-year-old Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) has said he’ll likely retire after fulfilling the lucrative six-fight, 30-month contract he signed with Showtime four months ago. If the Grand Rapids, Mich., native adheres to that timetable, he would be 38 when he walks away from this dangerous game.
Though Mayweather has bet seven figures on single sporting events and lives a lavish lifestyle, his handlers also are certain that he won’t have to fight strictly for money once he completes a contract that’ll pay Mayweather a guarantee of $32 million per fight.
“One thing we can say is Floyd Mayweather will retire a very, very wealthy young man, with a lot of money,” said Leonard Ellerbe, one of Mayweather’s advisers. “He will never, ever be in a [bad financial] situation, no matter what happened in the past to other fighters. He will be a great example of a young man who had a phenomenal career, who was the best to ever do it, and retired undefeated, with several hundred millions of dollars in the bank. And healthy.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.