He's right there with many of the glittering talents who have graced the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem in the past century. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has "it," the charisma that forces people -- love him or loathe him -- to pay attention.
Thousands of folks waited outside the theater on Tuesday to gain entrance to see "Money" talk up his May 5 Las Vegas clash with 154-pound champ Miguel Cotto, the Puerto Rican ace who has held crowns in three weight divisions.
Once inside, several hundred fans made their presence felt -- noisily -- making it hard at times to concentrate on the goings on.
But my mind drifted during the event anyway. As I heard Mayweather talk about what a stern test Cotto is, and how his lengthy run at the top of the heap comes from his loyalty to hard work, I found myself pondering a fight that won't happen on May 5 ... or maybe at all. The Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown.
Of course I asked the requisite questions, because that's only fair and righteous. It wouldn't be decent to Cotto to act as if he had no shot against Mayweather or that this exercise is merely an appetizer until we get to the main course. But, nothwithstanding how Cotto looked on Dec. 3 at MSG against Antonio Margarito, and how it looks like he has had a happy fire lit under him by Cuban trainer Pedro Diaz, I do think he will be in over his head on May 5.
That's no slam. I think Mayweather handles everyone from 140 to 160 pounds. He's simply a stunning, stellar pugilist whom I think mastered the shoulder roll in his crib.
The media conference got off to a late start -- what, you think Mayweather isn't going to make 'em wait, in the grand tradition of the main attraction? -- and we heard ample boos when the spotlight bathed "Money" and his name was announced. Mayweather didn't frown. No, he grinned, fully aware that each and every soul motivated to boo and hiss would also be motivated to purchase the pay-per-view in May.
This fight will take place at 154 pounds, and some wonder how Mayweather, maybe better suited for 147, will deal with the physical Cotto. Floyd managed to land a shot at Manny Pacquiao while delving into this matter. "I want to fight the best Miguel Cotto," he said. "I don't want to fight you at a catchweight." This referred to Pacquiao's occasional tactic of demanding that foes weigh under the high-end weight limit for his bouts.
Floyd was asked about his Jan. 13 Jeremy Lin tweet, which went as follows: "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise." He said he wasn't backing off the comment, but offered that the media does tend to twist his words and cherry pick to fit their needs. Why, he wondered, wasn't more made of his praise of Lin? He mentioned that a few people write his tweets, but this one, he said, was all him.
But of course, the topic of Manny Pacquiao came up. Mayweather was asked if he thought a fight with the Filipino would go down. He didn't sound optimistic, saying that any talk of a 50-50 revenue split with Manny is a non-starter. OK, he was less than optimistic; when asked it that fight will happen, he answered, "Absolutely not." He said any talk of him being afraid to fight Pacman is nonsense, and offered one avenue to make the road to fruition easier to travel.
"The only way I think a fight the guy with three losses and I-don't-know-how-many draws, the only way that fight happens is he has to leave Bob Arum," Mayweather said. "And I'm not telling him to leave, because I know how the media is -- they take your words and screw them up. They make it the way they want to make it."
I asked Top Rank if Arum wanted to respond. A rep wrote back: "What's to respond to? Floyd clearly does not want to fight Manny."
Note: Cotto had been with Bob Arum and Top Rank forever, but he didn't re-sing with Arum when his contract ended in December. He signed on with Golden Boy for this fight, a single fight deal. If he was still with Arum, almost certainly this date with Mayweather would not have been realized.
Note No. 2: Mayweather didn't dispute any specifics in the reports of the last round of negotiations. A couple weeks ago, Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz said he offered a compromise to Mayweather in the form of a $50 million guarantee to each and a 55-45 revenue split in PPV monies, with the extra portion going to the winner, and that Floyd turned it down, preferring for Pacman to simply receive a flat fee and no slice of the PPV pie.