SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley have been on a press tour to promote their upcoming prize fight on May 1st. They both disappear for serious training now. Floyd Mayweather has never lost a professional match since turning pro after the 1996 Olympics, where he won a bronze medal. As a pro, he's won 40, 25 by knockouts. Ouch. Mr. FLOYD MAYWEATHER (Professional Boxer): (Singing) I dont drink at bars. Pop champagne cuz it's got that dough to me... SIMON: He seemed to be in a merry mood as he went from a press conference, where he and Shane Mosley made menacing faces at each other; to a photo shoot, where he clenched his fists for the camera; to finally into an interview with us. Mr. Mayweather was friendly, intense, and about as modest as someone with 40 wins can be. Mr. MAYWEATHER: I always knew that I was going to be a great fighter someday. I think when you go out there and say that youre going to win, that you truly believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself a hundred percent, then that's when I think they call it arrogance and cocky. But when youre not too sure of yourself and you come out victorious, I think people think that's when youre humble. But I think I'm humble because I know where my blessings come from.
SIMON: Your blessings come from? Mr. MAYWEATHER: God. SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: I know it. If I was ungrateful, I think I would've been lost. SIMON: Now, your father was a pretty good fighter, too. Mr. MAYWEATHER: Yeah, my dad was a cool fighter. He was a good contender. He had got shot. Actually, my dad was holding me. SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: As a little boy, picking me up when my dad got shot. My mother's brother shot my dad. SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: And my dad was in the hospital for a very, very, very long time. Eventually, when he got out of the hospital, he fought his way back up to the top and was the number one welterweight in the world, to fight for the title. But he never had an opportunity and a chance to fight for the title because I think he didnt have good management. But now, he's a great trainer. SIMON: Youve had your problems back and forth over the years. Mr. MAYWEATHER: I think its more of the media, you know, made it more than what it really was. It's just that my dad letting me grow as a man, basically, but he's a good guy. SIMON: He's in your corner now in... Mr. MAYWEATHER: Always. SIMON: ...both ways, yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: That's right. SIMON: Youve been outspoken about saying you dont want to get into the ring with an opponent who hasnt undergone stringent, rigorous drug testing - the same kind you go through. Mr. MAYWEATHER: But I also must take urine... SIMON: Yes. Right. Mr. MAYWEATHER: ...and blood tests just to show the world that the sport that I'm doing is full of healthy, smart, hardworking athletes. And I'm in a brutal sport. In this brutal sport, with taking enhancement drugs, it makes you stronger, it makes you faster, it makes you take a good punch, and it makes you hit harder. I want to be around someday to be able to raise my kids and spend time with my family, in a way where I have a very clear head and a very, very clear mind. SIMON: You know, I'm so glad you said this. I did a series on brain damage in boxing years ago. Mr. MAYWEATHER: Yeah. SIMON: Scared the hell out of me. Made me not a fight fan. Made me see prizefighting in a whole different way. Mr. MAYWEATHER: But you should be a fan of Floyd Mayweather because I'm one of the fighters that had tremendous defense. That's why I was able to last so long in this sport and...
SIMON: Youre 33 now. Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: Yes. A lot of people think that it's cool to go out there and bang toe-to-toe and bang head-to-head. But then, you got to realize there's life after boxing.
SIMON: Mm-hmm. Mr. MAYWEATHER: You know, you could make a lot of money, but if your brain is not what it should be...
SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: ...you're not going to be able to count the money no way. Youre not going to be able to - and youre going to forget - you don't want to be able - to forget nothing and forget your family members and not be able to enjoy your money, forget how to count, and things of that nature. You dont want that.
SIMON: But haven't there been a lot of smart fighters, and we all know the example of Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton Jr. Mr. MAYWEATHER: But Muhammad Ali done the rope-a-dope. He laid on the ropes and took punishment. SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: You know, a lot of Hispanic fighters like to, you know, they say oh, we doing it for the fans. We want to bang heads. We want to box toe-to-toe. But then, when its all said and done, you can't go to your fans and get nothing - no money, no help, or no nothing. So the thing is about being smart, being intelligent. And that's the type of fighter I am. I'm a very, very intelligent fighter.
SIMON: Yeah. So youre convinced the way youre doing it is going to keep you safer than a lot of other... Mr. MAYWEATHER: Well, the less you get hit, the longer you last. And the proof is in the pudding.
SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER:
All the fighters from the '92 team have retired. All the fighters from the '96 team, from my Olympic team, have retired. You are going take some type of punishment in the sport. But I would prefer to take the punishment on my arms, you know, using my defense, not in my head because I'm not trying to get brain damage.
SIMON: Is there a champion or prizefighter that - in history - that you look to and really admire, kind of model yourself on? Mr. MAYWEATHER: There's so many fighters that I just really, really - I love, I just love the sport of boxing. But you know, when I do my interviews, I'll say I really love the sport. I mean, you can't really love the sport no more because there's so much cheating going on. SIMON: Mm-hmm. Mr. MAYWEATHER: How can you love a sport where there's nothing but cheating going on? SIMON: How can you love a sport where there's so much cheating? Mr. MAYWEATHER: I'm mean, it's like, but I'm being honest. You know, I dont want my children's children to never have to work again. So I'm putting in the hard work right now, probably not in a few more years. A few more fights and I'm going to do hard just promoting. SIMON: Youve already started promoting, right? Mr. MAYWEATHER: I've promoted, I think, probably my last four fights. I'm my own boss. I keep 100 percent of the revenue. That's what people fail to realize. So I've got the best deal in sports, not just in boxing - in sports history. SIMON: Yeah. Mr. MAYWEATHER: Nobody has ever achieved. SIMON: A lot of other fighters have just seen their - what they win just fritter away because they... Mr. MAYWEATHER: I mean, other fighter get the worse contracts in boxing. And Im the biggest draw, and Im the biggest fighter in the sport of boxing. Oscar De La Hoya met his biggest payday with me. Shane Mosley is making his biggest payday with me. And the list goes on and on with fighters. So, thats why everybody wants to fight me. All roads lead to me. If you got 500,000 fans paying to see you win, you got 500,000 fans paying to see you lose - theres no difference, because theyre all paying.
SIMON: Last question. Floyd Patterson - the late Floyd Patterson now, told us years ago that someone who is going to get into the ring, at any level, cant be afraid of what might happen to him - brain damage, neurological damage, Parkinsons, anything like that, he said - because if youre going to get in the ring, you have to tell yourself: Those are the chumps. Im one of the good ones. Its not going to happen to me. Mr. MAYWEATHER: May Floyd Patterson rest in peace. I dont believe him - I dont believe that. SIMON: Mm-hmm. Mr. MAYWEATHER: You know, thats what I say: All fighters see things in different way. You just sit back and just look at fighters and look at how fighters talk.
SIMON: Mm-hmm. Mr. MAYWEATHER: I mean, you see how Shane talk. You see the difference between how I communicate, how I talk up there on that podium, and how Shane talks. Thats from - Shane talks the way he talk - is from punishment. And I talk the way I talk because I havent took no punishment.
SIMON: Thanks so much for your time, and good luck to you, Mr. Mayweather. Mr. MAYWEATHER: I like it, I like doing interviews. SIMON: Thank you. Take care. Mr. MAYWEATHER: All right, thank you. SIMON: Floyd Mayweather - his match against Shane Mosley is Saturday, May 1, in Las Vegas.
The REAL Mayweather. Here's to a defense wizard of the past; the best southpaw of all time: