The air inside the Mayweather gym is stingy. Swarms of smelly, sweating reporters, fans, children and hanger-ons surround Floyd Mayweather Jr., 35, as he looks at his reflection in the mirror. The whipping sound of his jump rope falls in time to James Brown chanting “The Big Payback” over the loudspeaker.
At this training session he is a whirlwind—in one breath performing feats of magic with his standing sit-ups, sparring with his uncle Roger Mayweather, and punching the heavy bag. In another breath, he’s talking with reporters and family, entertaining the crowd with his best friend 50 Cent, or cursing out a member of his promotions team. It’s like watching a power saw whizzing and trying to count the blades.
He’s unstoppable. With 26 knockouts and 42 wins, and more than $200 million in earnings, he is an undefeated world champion in five different weight brackets. He has re-invigorated the energy of a sport where corrupt promoters reduced its glory.
Of course, with all of this glory comes the guts.
There he is on HBO’s 24-7 eating fried chicken and French fries, onion rings, El Pollo Loco. He has bags of cash divided into 10K bankrolls that he can spend on a whim, recklessly gamble, burn it, or tout its importance. He has a fleet of white cars in Vegas, black ones in Miami. He’s arguing with his father, not speaking to him for nearly a decade. He’s copping a plea for a domestic violence charge that will land him in Clark County Detention Center for 90 days starting in early June. He’s generously supporting his crew, dozens of family members, their children, paying tuition, paying medical bills. He’s being sued by Manny Pacquiao for defamation of character. His father’s knee was practically blown off by a 20-gauge shotgun at the hands of his uncle, while as a 1-year-old he sat in his father’s arms. He says his father sold his mother crack. The seven member family lived in a one-bedroom apartment, sometimes without heat or hot water. He dropped out of high school to support his family. He visits his mother every Sunday. His life is complicated.