by John Martinez
September 4, 2011
While in the midst of busily training for his upcoming bout with Mexican powerhouse and WBC Welterweight title-holder Victor Ortiz (29-2-22KO), the undefeated six-time world champion of five weight classes, Floyd Mayweather Jr (41-0, 25KO), temporarily set aside his preparations holding a candid, yet lighthearted, Skype session on Friday with United States Soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Despite his training schedule, Mayweather Jr. found the time to hold nearly two-hour discussion in which he appeared relaxed, confident, and in good humor prior to his September 17 HBO PPV fight.
“God bless you, thank you for fighting for this country… the red white and blue, there’s nothing better than this country, America – you guys are great, thank you so much… from the bottom of my heart.” Continuing, “You know, you guys are out there [fighting] in 120 degree weather so, if you guys can make [that] sacrifice, why can’t Floyd Mayweather make a sacrifice?” asked the Michigan born boxer to the Soldiers of mostly 1st Battalion 6th Field Artillery HHB “Hellions”(Task Force Centaur) and other Soldiers of Task Force Duke.
He was cordial and humorous even when he gave the deployed warriors a tour of the “Big Boi” Mansion. “Hey, y’all need anything? Let me show you house.” And with that, the Soldiers were granted a VIP tour of a dwelling that puts other people’s homes on an episode of Cribs to shame. From the built in waterfall to the large screen television hidden behind a picture to the closet that is a home within itself, Floyd proved that he lives his moniker, “Money.”
When Floyd finally discussed his upcoming showdown for the WBC welterweight title, he dismissed the punching power and chances of Ortiz with a laugh and a flash of a smile.
“Ortiz? Ha. Its gonna be easy work -like taking candy from a baby. I’m not worried about him at all, I have a lot of experience and I’ve been places in the sport [boxing] he will [probably] never go in his career.”
One Soldier asking Mayweather why so many of his fights have gone the distance at this stage of his career? Floyd responded by laying blame on the foe not wanting to engage him in a fisticuff scrap.
“It’s like y’all, one shot can end it all.”
Continuing he explained, “Once I get to beating these guys and I take the lead, these guys go into survival mode. They try to say they went the distance with Floyd Mayweather instead of trying to go for the victory. You have fighters that will just settle and be happy that way. You know, you have fighters like Shane [Mosley] who hit me with a good shot. I bit down like a true champion and I kept fighting and what did Shane do? He went into survival mode. When I was beating [Juan Manual] Marquez, his corner could have easily stopped the fight but what did he do? He went into survival mode, so there’s nothing I can do. And when I faced Oscar De La Hoya, he chose to be the heavyweight gloves, he chose the weight class, so they are always putting me in a no-win situation, so, you know, all these guys work together. I’m a one-man Army. You know, you have all these guys working with certain promoters, and like I said before, I’m the trainer, the promoter, and the fighter.”
Despite a 16-month layoff, Floyd’s trip back into the ring promises to be an event, victory, or both. His prowess is second to none. His defense is “impregnable,” but more importantly, like many others hypothesize, it seems like a tune up for bigger things.
“I’m working on the biggest contract ever!” he exclaimed. “Y’all know who it is.” To the delight of the packed room, Floyd began simulating the act of tying a tourniquet around his arm and pretending as though he was injecting a syringe into his veins.
“Poochiao (Manny Pacquiao) don’t want this. You know,” he claimed. With Pacquiao supporters amongst the gathered troops, Floyd exclaimed, “He can’t say nothing. He’s getting my left overs. I beat them [Manny’s biggest named conquests] all way before he got to them. What’s he gonna say? I beat them in their prime and when they still had something to give. I got ‘em first.”
When another Soldier questioned him on how he stays motivated, Floyd stood up in front of the camera, pulled 100 dollar bills from his pant pocket, numbering in the seemingly thousands, and flushed the screen with what could only be “chump change” to the world class fighter and entertainer. He described himself this way, “There’s talented and then there’s gifted. I’m God gifted. It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me. Others have been knocked down and lost.“
As the soon to be seven-time world champion ended his time with the troops, he did offer his political views on the conflict in Afghanistan.
“Everytime we get someone new in the White House, they always say they’re gonna bring you (Servicemen and women) home; well it’s time to bring y’all home. You know what I’d do? I’d be buying jets and sending them over there to pick you all up, that’s what I’d do. Gotta send the jets over there to pick y’all up and bring y’all back home.”
With all the bravado and swagger that only an undefeated fighter can possess, Floyd Mayweather showed he is more than just a self-promoting boxer. He proved he was a supporter of the troops and offered to put on an exhibition – meet-and-greet for the Servicemembers of FOB Salerno, Afghanistan after he makes “easy work” of Oritz and prior to his “biggest contract ever” against whom he hints is ”Poochiao.”
Note: The Salerno Skype Session between the Soldiers and Floyd Mayweather Jr. would not have been possible without the sincere dedication, hard work, and cooperation of Kelly Swanson and Leonard Ellerbe. And a special thanks to Floyd for taking the time to answer questions from some of those who are currently serving in Afghanistan.