The boxing teleconference is a tedious enough exercise that promoter Bob Arum cut Manny Pacquiao’s off before the first question this week, and most of Floyd Mayweather’s 29-minute call Wednesday was rather listless too, until he poignantly recalled a childhood relationship and how he reflects upon it.
Mayweather is in the final stages of preparation for his May 2 showdown with Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a promotion he acknowledged on Wednesday was “over the top” — his first admission that the fight is something different, something more vast than he has experienced in his brilliant 47-0 career.
But he suggested that he can reflect on his past, and a retired Grand Rapids carpet store owner, Franklin Brown, who helped him stay grounded as a successful young boxer, and now years later with the elderly man requiring nursing care and no longer able to attend fights.
Brown would follow the young Mayweather through Grand Rapids’ southeast side in his automobile during roadwork, lighting the path with his automobile’s headlights, and drive long distances to see him compete as an amateur.
“There’s this guy that I never talk about to no one. I never say anything about him to no one,” Mayweather said. “And he’s doing extremely bad right now, not financial-wise, but health-wise. … A guy by the name of Frank Brown.
“I’ve known him since I was the age of three and he has supported me more than anyone. He always said that, ‘Floyd one day, you’ll be the best in the world.’ He was the one who always took me to church, took me to different activities, and when I used to fight, he would drive anywhere — it could be in Little Rock, Arkansas — he would drive from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to come support me and sit in the room with me, say prayers with me. He’s a guy that I will never forget, because he was there from the age of three until after I fought De La Hoya.”
When Brown could travel to Las Vegas for Mayweather’s fights, he sat ringside. He flew first class. And on takeoff and touchdown, he would pray at the top of his lungs.
“It really hurts but I love that guy so much,” Mayweather said. “I think about him all the time.”
Mayweather, 38, and Pacquiao, 36, are scheduled for a 12-round unification bout. A lingering snafu over tickets was resolved Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, with the 500 available for public sale offered Wednesday evening.
The imbroglio seemed to ignite journalists covering it more than fans or even promoters.
Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, acknowledged as the ticket kerfuffle was happening that there was very little likelihood it would lead to scrapping a fight with commitments involving Las Vegas’ largest casino, two major boxing promoters, two major U.S. subscription networks, a host of sponsors, and a multitude of international commitments — not to mention Earth’s top two fighters.
Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) said he doesn’t approach it that way.
“It’s just a fight to me,” he said. “It’s the biggest fight in boxing history but I can’t approach it like that, because I’m never going to put any unnecessary pressure on myself. I like to approach the fight like he’s a fighter that’s extremely talented, he’s a very good fighter also, and my thing is just to be Floyd Mayweather.
“People ask how this fight is going to be fought. I can’t say. I’m no psychic. I can’t predict the future. But like I’ve said before, I’m going to be at my best on May 2nd.”
Mayweather stiff-armed a question about whether he thinks a victory improves his legacy (“I’m not sure because I’m not the one who puts myself in the history books,” he said), and that he thinks the most important thing to him in the final push to next week’s fight is “to stay relaxed.”
Mayweather reiterated that after facing Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), he will fight once more, fulfilling the three-year, six-fight CBS/Showtime contract he signed in 2013, then retire.
Both fights this year could be against Pacquiao if next week’s is an artistic and financial success, though Mayweather sidestepped that possibility.
“I can’t say who I’m going to fight in September but I don’t ever want to overlook anyone,” he said. “I’m planning to take one fight at a time, and as of right now, Manny Pacquiao is the guy that’s in front of me. That’s my focus.”