WHO else but Floyd Mayweather could sweep into his own public workout, hours late, in a “hyper car” worth nearly $5 million, cycle through the expected questions: why Andre Berto? (He’ll be exciting.) Are you really retiring? (Yes.) Really are you retiring? (Still yes.) and then do something he’d never done before – conduct a sparring session in full public view.
With gloves donned, one of Mayweather’s many attendants kneaded his back but the first clue something unusual was afoot came when he pulled on a headguard and with little further ado stepped through the ropes into the ring.
For the champion’s confidants, Cornelius Boza Edwards and Leonard Ellerbe, sparring publicly was confirmation that “truly this is the end”. the upcoming fight against Andre Berto, they say, will be his last.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on Floyd Mayweather (not least by this publication). What to think of someone who can be boastful, ostentatious, who’s career was briefly interrupted by a stint in prison, someone who is proud, unapologetic, at times cruel? But when it comes to his boxing Mayweather is peerless. He proved that against Manny Pacquiao, his nearest rival, in May and watching him spar was a simple reminder of his ease between the ropes. His sparring partner may have been unthreatening but still obliged the champion to move. The American slid away from him, his arms crossed in that familiar defence. Ramon Montano could not break through. Mayweather toyed with him, showboating. After about nine minutes, Floyd paused took a sip of water and went again for another round. This one lasted just under six minutes, with Montano spent, vulnerable and Mayweather cracking in harder shorts before he dismissed the sparring partner as done.
Don Moore, a prospect, stepped in, lighter on his feet than his predecessor, jabbing more. Mayweather countered, thumped in rights over that jab and danced round him. They did a six minute round, took a brief break and Mayweather then went to work on him for another six. By Moore’s third long round, he had to hold, let go a flurry to try to keep Mayweather away. Floyd didn’t knock him down but did open up on him with hard shots, jolting poor Moore’s head back as he tired and the champion stayed strong in their final session.
Mayweather’s sparring partners may be compensated but it’s tough, punishing work. The “doghouse” concept, the brutal sessions that take place in the sparring ring at the Mayweather Boxing Club, is not I would say an example to follow. They might well be too tough, though Moore said afterwards that he was honoured, “I’m learning a lot. Floyd’s teaching me a lot.”
Few credit Mayweather with being the best ever, as he loudly proclaims of himself, but he is clever, one of the cleverest. He made his philosophy clear ahead of this sparring session.
“It’s all about self-preservation,” Mayweather said. “Boxing is just wear and tear on the body. It’s time to hang it up. I’m very well off. I’m very comfortable.
“Being in a toe-to-toe battle is not a good thing. The best and coolest thing about my career is it’s called the ‘sweet science’, it’s hitting and not getting hit. Making all that money and not taking any punishment and leaving the sport with all your faculties, that’s the best thing about my career.”
Whether he ultimately heeds his own message remains to be seen, but it’s a credo that all fighters would do well to follow. Mayweather is many things, but on this score he is surely right.