x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Floyd Mayweather: Ali ‘called himself ‘the greatest’ ... but I call myself T-B-E: The Best Ever’

The National's Omar Al Raisi speaks exclusively with Floyd Mayweather Jr about boxing in Dubai, his May 3 fight and the business of the sport. 'Regardless of who I fight, Mayweather business is always good business.'

Floyd Mayweather Jr, left, on his way to victory over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas in September last year. Mark J Terrill / AP Photo
Floyd Mayweather Jr, left, on his way to victory over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas in September last year. Mark J Terrill / AP Photo

Floyd Mayweather Jr is fighting for his legacy, and he is not shy about his goal: to be remembered as the best boxer in history.

Muhammad Ali “is one of the best boxers ever”, the unbeaten American said of his compatriot.

“He called himself ‘the greatest’. I respect him but I call myself T-B-E: The Best Ever.”

In an interview with The National, Mayweather did not rule out his path to glory taking him to Dubai for a title defence.

“Boxing is a global sport with fans all over,” he said. “I know Dubai is a city that would welcome the sport and put on some great events that would have eyes from all over the world watching.”

Read Omar Al Raisi’s exclusive interview with Amir Khan, where he responds to Mayweather, here

In 2012, the 36-year-old welterweight and super welterweight champion signed a six-fight contract worth US$300 million (Dh1.1 billion) with the US broadcaster Showtime, and he has four fights left on that lucrative deal, including a May 3 date at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Mayweather said the venues for the final three bouts are undecided.

“Anything is possible, but there are a lot of places I could see myself fighting in the future, so you never know,” he said.

“I’ve been to Dubai and it is a great place. I definitely want to go back. But I don’t know that I would want to fight one of my last fights there. But, again, anything is possible.”

The man widely considered the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter will risk his 45-0 record in May against Amir Khan, the Briton of Pakistani heritage, or Marcos Maidana, the Argentine.

Mayweather’s skills also extend into the promotional realm; his drawn-out decision on his next opponent, which he insists has not been made, has been a closely followed topic in the press and social media for the past few weeks.

It started with Mayweather taunting Khan and Maidana on his personal Twitter account, calling Maidana a “biscuit” and Khan a “con artist”, and that led to him asking his fans to vote for his next opponent in a poll set up on his personal website.

Khan won the fans poll, but Mayweather is making the fighters wait for a decision, though he did say, during a telephone interview on Tuesday: “You all will know my next opponent very soon.”

He suggests that boxers eager to fight him are primarily motivated by the big payday that comes with a Mayweather fight, as much as $10m for the May 3 bout.

Khan recently said: “The fight with Floyd Mayweather is not about money; I have made enough money and I am set for life. This fight is about pride for me.”

Mayweather dismisses claims of that sort.

“Any fighter wants Mayweather money and it’s always about the money,” he said. “I get that the idea of being the first fighter to hand me a loss is a big motivation, but it is ridiculous to say that you wouldn’t want in on the biggest possible paycheque in your sport.

“Anyone that says that isn’t telling the truth. Period.”

Some believe Khan would bring more attention to the fight, given his ties to Britain as well as the Muslim world. Mayweather says Mayweather fights are about Mayweather.

“Every time I fight, it’s good for business, regardless of who it is and where it is,” he said. “However, I know that I have fans everywhere. The UK has been especially good to me and I love my fans there and everywhere else.

“I went to South Africa with my team and even I was amazed at the love that the fans there showed us. I break records every time I fight and whatever is the best fight for me at the time, that’s what I am going to do.

“Regardless of who I fight, Mayweather business is always good business.”

The suspense and curiosity of who his next opponent will be seems to be drawing more attention to the May 3 fight.

Perhaps it demonstrates anew the man’s genius in the ring, and outside it, as well.

sports@thenational.ae

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