Mayweather: 'I'll be totally different'

It has become the big Tuesday-of-fight-week tradition at the MGM Grand: The fighters make staged entrances to the casino and then, after talking with fans, they slip into a back room to sit down for a half hour or so with members of the media.

Few have been through this rigmarole more often than Floyd Mayweather Jr., and as he has grown in stature, and as his relationship with the media has become less prickly than it once was, these sessions have often become stream-of-consciousness abstractions: a news conference as imagined by Salvador Dali. Which is fair enough. There are only so many times you can ask a man about his defense, his training or his opponent -- and on Tuesday, Mayweather showed irritation when questioned how Canelo Alvarez ranked on the Index of Tough Fights because, as he pointed out, he couldn't say as he hadn't actually fought him yet.

So instead Mayweather relaxed, talked about his friends and his team, berated one employee who put honey in his coffee ("You don't put honey in coffee, you put honey in tea," he chided) and who then had to put up with his boss explaining how he once almost put diesel in one of Floyd's Ferraris and generally had a tendency to fail at most tasks, "but I keep him around anyway because he's my friend."

There was also a brief detour into discussion of shopping at Dupont Registry. The "Money" advice: Never buy yachts, but private jets are OK. Floyd did, however, take the opportunity to reflect on his progress from a man who felt frustrated with his career direction at Top Rank to one who is inarguably the single most powerful athlete in the sport. In hindsight, he says, he understands some of the decisions against which he chafed while with his former promoter.

"When I was younger, I didn't understand business," he said. "For Top Rank, Oscar De La Hoya was their cash cow. They're not going to take the risk of me fighting him and him taking a loss. Eventually, Oscar left and [Top Rank President Bob Arum] wouldn't let me fight Miguel Cotto, because 'Floyd's going to leave, and I can't let him beat Cotto and then leave. I need to build Cotto to become my cash cow.' And then when he got Manny Pacquiao, he said, 'Pacquiao's my cash cow,' and he didn't mind feeding Cotto to Pacquiao."

In that same vein, was he concerned that his present promotional partners, Golden Boy, might be viewing the 23-year-old Alvarez as the future star to take over from the 36-year-old Mayweather?

"He's not the future," Mayweather said without hesitation. "He's not the future. He's still going to be a star after this promotion. After he loses, he's still going to be a star because he's young, he's still going to be able to do pay-per-view numbers. But I've got a lot of young guys under my banner who are going to make a lot of noise."

He is unconcerned by the presence among Saturday's judges of C.J. Ross, one of two who infamously scored Timothy Bradley Jr. the winner over Manny Pacquiao.

"I can't fight the judges," he said. "I can judge myself. I can rate myself. Like with the Robert Guerrero fight."

Guerrero, of course, is his most recent foe, who came up short in a May bout in which Mayweather, according to most ringside and couch-bound observers, was nothing short of masterful, despite his long layoff and two-month incarceration for a domestic assault charge. Mayweather, however, disagreed.

"I gave myself a D," he insisted. "I wasn't impressed with myself. I could have been better. But I had been off a year, my body had totally changed because I got big from doing push-ups every day [in jail]. But you know, things happen. But I wasn't impressed with myself at all. I know me as a fighter. I could have done better, and in this fight I'm going to be totally different."

He smiled.