By Jackie Kallen
I have to admit it. I am a huge Floyd Mayweather fan. You either love the guy or you don’t. It helps that we are both Michigan born and raised. But above and beyond that, I think he is pound-for-pound the best out there. And he has matured into a hell of a nice guy.
Photo: Tom Casino/ Showtime
At the final press conference for the Ishe Smith/Cornelius Bundrage fight, Mayweather stole the thunder when he walked in the room flanked by his entourage of very large bodyguards. His smile lit up the room and even the most jaded media people craned their necks and gawked at the man who is reportedly worth close to $250 million.
As he took his seat on the dais next to his protege Ishe Smith, “Money” looked at ease and happy. I’d be happy, too, if I had just signed as lucrative a deal as he just inked with Showtime. Six PPV fights in 30 months. Damn. That man will be busy.
He indicated that the move from HBO to Showtime was like a divorce and remarriage.
“I could not have asked for a better deal,” he gushed. “I got a divorce…and now I am married again, to Showtime.”
Mayweather’s promotional company is co-promoting the fights Saturday night along with Golden Boy Promotions. Another of Mayweather’s prospects, Detroiter J’Leon Love, is on the undercard. Originally slated to fight Bronco McKart, Love will now face Derrick Findley. This is the opening TV fight and Floyd says he is very high on the young middleweight.
“He can fight,” Mayweather stated. “This man is destined to become a world champion.”
Mayweather also seemed pumped about facing Robert Guerrero on May 4. It will be his first fight on his new network.
“I am not overlooking him or taking him lightly,” he explained. “I will train as hard as ever to prepare for this fight. I will give my fans the excitement they expect from me.”
With Showtime’s VP Stephen Espinosa on hand, Mayweather greeted everyone warmly, posed for photos, and was as congenial as I have ever seen him. He was relaxed and friendly. The cocky, arrogant Floyd Mayweather was nowhere to be found.
“This is a great time in my life,” said the champ (who turns 36 this weekend). “I have had an amazing 17-year career so far and the future looks to be just as great. I do not fear any opponent and I did not get to be the best pound-4-pound fighter in the world overnight. I worked hard to earn it.”
When Bundrage’s camp and Smith’s camp began scuffling, Mayweather looked over at the action and shook his head..
“There’s no need for that,” he told his people and the mild melee was quickly broken up.
Detroit fight fans are hoping that the event this weekend will be the beginning of the resurgence of big-time fighting in Motown. A solid gate will show the networks that the fans here will come out despite the city’s economic woes.
It will, of course, be an overwhelmingly pro-Bundrage crowd. K-9 is a local favorite who hasn’t fought here in many years. Despite being on the first season of “The Contender,” Smith is largely unknown. The more he predicts that he will take the title back to Las Vegas with him, the more the Detroit fans are disagreeing.
“Mayweather may be Ishe’s promoter,” said one K-9 fan, “but he can’t get in the ring Saturday night and fight for him. And I can tell you one thing–Ishe Smith aint no Floyd Mayweather.”
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen