Mayweather focused on winning

LAS VEGAS -- The Floyd Mayweather Jr. who has shown himself during fight week has been far more subdued than usual.

Take his grand arrival, for example. That always comes on Tuesday of fight week with a showbiz walk through the MGM Grand lobby, surrounded by screaming fans and cameras. This one was ahead of his rematch with former two-division titleholder Marcos Maidana, against whom Mayweather will defend his welterweight and junior middleweight titles on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 8 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena -- four months after Maidana gave Mayweather perhaps the toughest fight of his brilliant career, although he lost a majority decision in their welterweight unification bout.

After the staged arrival, Mayweather, as always, headed to a VIP lounge to meet with a small group of reporters. Often the lounge will have more of members of Mayweather's entourage than there are reporters, and Mayweather will be at his animated best.

Not this week. It was just him, trusted adviser and Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe and publicist Kelly Swanson. And Mayweather was as laid-back and soft-spoken as ever as he answered many of the same questions about his rematch that he has been answering for months since the fight was finalized.

He also veered off into other topics when asked, such as for his take on the Ray Rice case and his suspension from the NFL for punching his fiancée -- now his wife -- in a casino elevator after the video of the attack was released.

Mayweather has never had a problem giving his opinions on anything under the sun, but given his own history with domestic violence -- several accusations against him and a 2012 plea bargain that got him 63 days in jail for an attack on his ex-girlfriend in front of two of their children -- the subject was sure to come up.

He made news when he surprisingly came out in support of Rice by saying that NFL should have stuck with the original two-game suspension rather than suspend him indefinitely when the video came out. Mayweather made other surprisingly tone-deaf comments about the case as well, only to apologize for them on Wednesday, which was final news conference day.

If Mayweather was low-key at the grand arrival session, he might as well have been asleep at the news conference. It wasn't exactly the energetic way to make the case that folks should dish out around $75 for the pay-per-view card.

Maybe after 18 years as a pro, most of which has been spent as a world champion with the last several as the clear-cut pound-for-pound king, and after earning hundreds of millions of dollars -- more than $100 million alone in 2013 alone as the world's highest-paid athlete -- he is bored.

He spent time talking about retirement at this time next year after the expiration of his Showtime/CBS contract. He talked about his desire to be able to go out to eat alone, something his massive celebrity precludes.

Mayweather also talked about the supposed distractions that some think are taking their toll, although it's not really a Mayweather fight week if there aren't all kinds of things swirling around the champ that have nothing to do with the fight at hand.

This week alone there were Mayweather's comments about the Rice case; a lawsuit filed against him the week before by ex-fiancée Shantel Jackson alleging all sorts of domestic violence during their relationship; the comments from former friend and rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson mocking Mayweather's inability to read a simple radio drop and implying that he's illiterate, and rival promoter Bob Arum's claims that secret talks are ongoing to make a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown.

They've all generated headlines, leading to the inevitable questions about whether Mayweather may be distracted going into Saturday's fight.

"My back is always against the ropes no matter how it plays out in the sport of boxing," Mayweather said. "If I dominate a guy, they say he's over the hill. If I don't knock a guy out, they say he's slow. I'm not just fighting my opponent. I'm fighting the world -- the media, the critics, the haters. But it comes with the territory."

Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs), 37, of Las Vegas, has been here, done this. The issues that surround his complicated life have never seemed to impact his fighting. He has always managed to block everything else out and focus on the task at hand, a key reason -- along with his all-time great defense and ring smarts -- that he has won 11 world titles in five weight classes and has basically been unchallenged.

But no matter how low-key Mayweather has been headlining into the rematch with Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs), 31, a big puncher from Argentina and a former welterweight and junior welterweight titlist, he said he is not distracted. Anything but, in fact.

"I have to focus on my fight. I can't focus on anything else going on," Mayweather said. "I have a tough fighter in front of me, and he needs all my focus."

The intensely aggressive manner in which Maidana fights demands it. He had a lot of success early in the May fight as he forced Mayweather to the ropes and landed some heavy right hands. Mayweather eventually adjusted and dominated the second half to win a majority decision. But because Maidana was more competitive than any opponent has been in more than a decade, Mayweather gave him a rematch of what was an exciting fight.

"We put it all on the line in the first fight," Mayweather said. "The fans demanded the rematch, so we owe it to them to put it all on the line again. Maidana is rugged. He's a cool fighter, and we'll see how it plays out on Saturday. The first fight was very interesting. Hopefully this time around the fight is even more exciting.

"Maidana is always in top shape. He absolutely deserves this rematch. I commend him for stepping up and making it happen again. I'm a true champion and a true champion never backs down."

It's Mayweather's ability to block out everything going on around him other than his fight that has helped make him one of boxing's best ever.

"He's become the face of boxing and often he is the guy who wears the target on his back," Ellerbe said. "No matter what he does, people tend to form an opinion, but that comes with the territory."

Said Mayweather, "People are entitled to their opinions. They are entitled to believe what they want to believe. But when you reach this level that I'm at there are always those taking shots at you. I don't worry about that.

"Taking shots at me only comes with the territory. If you want to believe lies or rumors, that only makes my story better."