If you tuned into the last big event Floyd Mayweather headlined you probably have an idea of what you’ll see from him in the next one. And Mayweather isn’t shy about tipping his hand.
Four years ago, when the boxing legend stepped into the ring with Conor McGregor for their spectacle of a fight in Las Vegas, Mayweather toyed around with the MMA superstar. He even let McGregor, who made his professional boxing debut that night featuring skills that didn’t give Mayweather much trouble, win a few rounds on the scorecards. Then reality set in.
Mayweather started landing, took control of the fight as McGregor grew tired, and earned a 10th round TKO—his 50th career victory while making an absurd amount of money for the light work. Expect Mayweather to break out a similar strategy Sunday when he steps into the ring for his hyped exhibition match with the YouTuber Logan Paul.
“We want to give the people entertainment,” says Mayweather. “If I wanted to, I could go out there and if I want to I could knock him out in the first-round.”
Whether you think Mayweather slugging it out with the social media personality in an unsanctioned fight is fun or a farce, Sunday in Miami (Showtime PPV, 8 p.m. ET) will present an intriguing opportunity for fight fans that either love to see the 44-year-old Money Mayweather pick apart his opponents or want to see him lose for once.
Just about everyone assumes Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers over the past 25 years and a defensive genius, will make it look easy against the 26-year-old Paul, a boxing novice, over eight scheduled rounds. But Paul will have a massive height (‘6) and weight (potentially 50 pounds) advantage over Mayweather. That’s of no concern to the fighter who finished with a perfect professional record.
“Height doesn’t win fights, fighting wins fights,” says Mayweather. “And one thing that I know how to do is fight.”
We caught up with Mayweather via Zoom Thursday from The Villa Casa Casuarina at the former Versace Mansion where he and Paul made the rounds with the media. During our brief conversation with the legend, Mayweather talked about why he’s cool with the trend of social media influencers infiltrating boxing and why he’s not embracing the role of hero—or babyface in wrestling parlance—in this fight. Even though plenty of Paul haters will be rooting for the influencer to eat a lot of leather.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
For the boxing fans out there that aren’t exactly enthused about the idea of you fighting a YouTuber in an exhibition match, why is this a can’t miss fight?
It’s not just the main event but the undercard. One of these guys on the undercard could be the next Floyd Mayweather. We have a lot of exciting young fighters that we’ve signed to Mayweather Promotions so we want everyone to tune in and buy the pay-per-view because, like I said, we’re looking for the next Floyd Mayweather. And we also got a couple of championship bouts leading up to the main event and we also got the former NFL wide receiver, the great Chad Ochocinco, fighting in his pro debut so it’s going to be a great card.
What do you think about the recent infusion of social media influencers in boxing? You’ve obviously embraced it. Is that good for the sport?
I think everybody is entitled to live life like they want to live life and do what they want to do. The boxers that’s already been in boxing you guys have to go out there and make a mark for yourself and do what you do.
This may sound funny, but some of your fans that I’ve talked to are worried about you in this fight against such a bigger opponent. I know you say it’s all about the skills not the size of the fighters, but do you sense that the people around you or the ones rooting for you in this fight are a little worried?
What I want everybody to do right now, because everybody keeps worrying about his height, right before I fought for the world title, the guy I fought for the world title was like 5’11 or 6’ and the guy before that was 6’3” so weight doesn’t win fights, height doesn’t win fights, fighting wins fights. And one thing that I know how to do is fight.
So how do you go about winning this fight? Is it going to be a long fight or a short fight? What’s the strategy?
We want to give the people entertainment. If I wanted to, I could go out there and if I want to I could knock him out in the first-round.
I know you could.
If that’s what I want to do, I could make it rough. What I want to do is have fun and I don’t want to knock him out right away. You know why? I really want to see his skills. I want to show him that there’s a difference between the elite level, real elite boxing, and YouTube boxing. We’ll see. The movement is totally different.
Curious that you’ve said you don’t feel like the hero in this fight, but it is a bit of a role reversal for you because you’ve kind of been playing the role of villain basically all your career.
No. I haven’t been playing the villain my whole career. Let’s get it right.
Ok, I shouldn’t say your whole career, but maybe the second half of your career.
Ok, I’m a young kid from the inner city. Dad was a former fighter, dad went to prison, mother was on drugs, I beat all odds in being able to go to the Olympics without my dad in my life. I turned professional with a Jewish boxing promoter who never promoted me worldwide. Only promoted me in the Spanish areas when I wanted to be promoted worldwide because I knew I could be huge. I beat everybody they put in front of me so I decided to become my own boss, right. When I became my own boss I got hate on both sides because I wanted to be my own boss because I believe in myself and my skills. So that makes me a villain because if I go out and say, “You know what, I’m going to win this fight” and I win this fight. Or “My team is the best” and we prove day in and day out that we’re the best? That makes me the villain? Or does that mean I have a lot of people that hate me because I’m a young Black man that rose from nothing and turned my life into something and made over a billion dollars in the sport and I’m my own boss? So that’s really what it is. I get hate on both sides.
You’re very polarizing.
It is what is it. So that’s not going to just stop me from striving to be who I am. I’m not cocky, I’m not arrogant. I’m humble because you know why? I know where my blessings come from. I’m thankful every day for my team. I’m thankful every day for my mother. I’m thankful every day for my father. I’m thankful every day God was able to give me four beautiful, healthy children. I’m thankful every day that God gave me a healthy grandson. At the end of the day I get the hate from both sides, but every day I’m keep striving, keeping believing in myself, keep believing in my team, and keep believing in the young fighters and pushing these young fighters and telling them they can do anything if Floyd Mayweather can do it.