By Lance Pugmire / Los Angeles Times
LAS VEGAS—In vivid detail, Floyd Mayweather Jr. recounted memories that shaped a boxing career that now stands at 49-0.
He was being pressed by reporters at his post-fight news conference about whether he’ll truly retire after dominating Andre Berto on Saturday night by unanimous decision.
At 38, Mayweather was far faster and more skilled than his younger foe, reminding afterward that Berto was “not facing any ordinary Joe. He’s facing the best.”
Yet, Mayweather—boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter—also has his 39th birthday arriving in February.
And after adding a $32 million purse to the $220 million-plus he collected by defeating Manny Pacquiao, he showed no interest in following the well-worn path by boxing greats, such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, who were sad shadows of themselves in the end.
“Those things I remember,” Mayweather said after recalling how he all but demanded monthly fights to sharpen his talent early in his career. “If I keep fighting…I gotta get up out of there.”
Mayweather put on a signature display of his “hit and don’t be hit” mentality against Berto, connecting on 57 percent of his punches and peppering the challenger with 83 jabs to retain his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association welterweight belts at the MGM Grand.
He matched late former-heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano’s record at retirement and tied Louis with his 26th world-title victory.
“I don’t know another fighter that made it look so easy…I made it look so easy,” Mayweather said.
He wasn’t talking only of Saturday’s fight, after one judge awarded him all 12 rounds. He was speaking of his career.
“He’s just smart. Really smart,” Berto said. “I got caught up, like everybody else, in trying to knock him out. Even when I was on the inside, he’d tie me up with his little tactics. You want to catch his [rear] and get him out of there. He’s too sharp.
“I haven’t been in there with Marciano, but to have that speed and timing, it’s unheard of.”
Mayweather admitted that people “are throwing money at me,” and that another “nine-figure” offer would be on the table if he chose to fight beyond his six-bout Showtime deal that expired with the triumph.
MGM Grand is opening a new 20,000-seat arena in April that would likely sweeten the pot.
“I’m OK,” Mayweather said in rejecting—at least for now—the overtures.
He said he feels motivation to develop young fighters within his Mayweather Promotions stable and to enjoy his life.
He’s also currently overlooking a landscape of possible next opponents that include three fighters he’s already proved he can beat—Pacquiao, Saul Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.
“Pac, Canelo and Cotto…it’s like bowling and I got a turkey,” Mayweather said.
His father and trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., mentioned unbeaten middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin only to dismiss him as “too big,” and he discounted unbeaten welterweight Keith Thurman as “a one-punch fighter,” the kind Mayweather Jr. has made a career of defeating.
The father said he’ll monitor his son’s feelings toward the future, warning that it’s important to decide sooner rather than later if he’ll truly bypass a shot at 50-0.
“If you don’t want to fight, you better quit. Right then,” Mayweather Sr. said. “When your mind is telling you, ‘I don’t want to do this no more,’ you better not…because if you continue to do it, you’re going to get hurt.”
Mayweather Jr. was definitely in the mood to look back.
“I fought my first 17 fights in [one year and eight months] and became a world champion,” less than two years after his pro debut, he said, reminding that he’s paid his dues.
Then he told a related tale—a nod to mortality—of how three of his defining fights came against men who have since died. His first world title came against Los Angeles’s Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez. His first big showdown with a fellow unbeaten was against Diego Corrales. And his first pay-per-view was against Arturo Gatti.
So, he was saying, understand any reluctance in fighting on, even if it would be to reach 50-0.
Those who best know Mayweather project that if a suitable challenger emerges by early next year, it could sway him to come back.
He admitted he can overcome rust quickly.
“Once I get to the boxing gym and I get started, four hours of nonstop hard work,” is all that’s needed, he said.
Image credits: AP