LAS VEGAS – Ten observations from Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s training camp in preparation for his May 2 fight against Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather loves to FaceTime. It’s his preferred method of communication. He FaceTimed with Stephen Espinoza from Pacquiao’s hotel suite in the middle of negotiations. He also FaceTimed with four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, with an assist from the Showtime broadcaster Jim Gray, who does a radio show with Brady during the NFL season. This happened, oddly, twice.
“Brady, my guy!” Mayweather shouted during one commercial shoot, the one where he walks toward Pacquiao that has been playing on endless loop. (Quick aside: the boxers filmed that commercial separately, much to Mayweather’s chagrin. He had wanted, well, a little face time with his opponent. They saw each other at the initial press conference and that was it.)
“Defense wins championships!” Mayweather said to small-screen Brady, who, of course, is an offensive player.
Another aside: Brady is expected to attend the fight. We’re told he appealed directly to Leslie Moonves, president of CBS.
Mayweather can read, contrary to reports that surfaced before his rematch last September against Marcos Maidana. (He won, by unanimous decision.)
At the commercial shoot, Mayweather read a series of promos. “Hi Puerto Rico, I’m Floyd Mayweather,” and stuff like that. Granted, it wasn’t Hemingway, but it was reading nonetheless.
This was not lost on Mayweather. “Come on now!” he shouted to no one in particular. "You know I can’t read!”
Pacquiao’s dog is named Pacman. That’s one of the boxer’s nicknames, too.
There’s now a Ms. Pac-Man video game in the lobby of the Mayweather Boxing Club.
Speaking of, Mayweather renovated the gym before he started training for Pacquiao. He added a clubhouse in the back, near the locker room, complete with two black leather couches, two refrigerators and a flat-screen television. He had the walls repainted. And he added signage, TMT, or The Money Team, splashed everywhere in sight.
There’s also a painting in the locker room of Mayweather smashing Pacquiao’s face into pieces. That was a birthday gift from Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics guard and one of Mayweather’s best friends. He had the Art Mobb, a company based in Los Angeles, put the painting together. “It was tough to come up with something,” Thomas said. “What do you get someone who has everything?”
It's worth mentioning that Mayweather gave Thomas a $200,000 Bentley earlier this year.
Mayweather’s friends and associates all have very specific jobs. Some of the jobs are normal, or normal for someone like Mayweather. Like: his personal assistant carries a backpack filled with cell phone chargers, lip balm and whatever cash Mayweather needs to place bets on NBA basketball games. Some of the jobs are stranger. Like: there’s a guy who picks up Mayweather’s underwear when he finishes a workout. And then there is Nate Jones, a former Olympic heavyweight, whose sole job as it relates to Mayweather is to wear a chest protector and be punched repeatedly in the stomach.
During one workout, as the Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino looked on, Jones grimaced through a series of heavy blows. He says that sometimes he pees blood, which he chalks up to an occupational hazard. “Thatta boy, Nate!” someone shouted from the crowd.
“What the hell is Duke doing with all them black players?” Mayweather asked Pitino between sit-ups, as the coach stifled a smile.
“Is that why they win they won the championship?” Mayweather asked.
“There are a million motherf--king Plumlee brothers,” he said later.
On one recent training day, some 18 Ferraris rallied from Los Angeles to the gym to show support for Mayweather. Obi Okeke, one of two Mayweather car guys, organized the rally. Okeke runs Fusion Luxury Motors, and he has sold Floyd 39 cars, including a red Ferrari Enzo that Okeke procured in Abu Dhabi and shipped to the United States. He said there are only 400 of those cars made in the world, and only 111 in the United States, and those numbers don’t count the cars that have been crashed (see this video of the comedian Eddie Griffin on YouTube.)
Okeke has sold cars to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessica Simpson and Brittney Spears, among others. But no one quite like Mayweather.
“He calls me in the middle of the night, whenever,” Okeke said. “He called me once at 3 a.m. and said, I need a Bugatti in 12 hours in my driveway. I found a way to get it done.”
“This is the real Fast and Furious,” said someone in the crowd.
Mayweather’s uncle, Roger, remains in camp. But he’s struggling with diabetes, and his eyesight is deteriorating. He still does mitt work with his nephew most training days, and he’s in the gym most every day, also doing mitt work.
Speaking of Roger, a former world champion boxer in his own right, and of the familiarity in both camps, he once sparred with Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer. Roach noticed the 5-year-old that accompanied his uncle to the gym – Floyd Jr. He already flashed the talent that would make him an unbeaten world champion. “I mean, he was born to fight,” Roach says.
As for their sparring session, “I chased him for four rounds,” Roach says. “He never hit me once. So the next day, he says, you want to spar again? I said, no, I already ran this morning.”
“I don’t like Roger too much,” Roach said. “But Floyd always called me Mr. Roach.”
Maybe true. Maybe not. But someone in Mayweather’s camp tells us that Macy Gray’s assistant called five times in a single day to lobby for Gray to sing the national anthem at the fight.
Floyd Mayweather Sr., the boxer’s rhyme-spewing dad, now has his own publicist. Not that he needs one. He considers all microphones friends.
Someone asked him recently to describe Pacquiao’s biggest flaw. “Getting into the ring with Floyd,” he answered.
For this camp, Mayweather still allows around one hundred to two hundred guests to watch him train. But they are not allowed to take pictures or video with their cell phones, which is a new development. This rule is strictly enforced.
There’s a sign on the door.
“No cell phones
While Floyd Mayweather is training leave your phone in your car
No phone calls
Violators will be asked to leave the premises and will not be allowed to return”
For emphasis, there is also a picture of a cell phone with an X through it.
It’s too early to tell how much this means, but those close to Mayweather insist that he will fight Pacquiao once and only once. “No way they do a rematch,” one person close to Mayweather told us. “No. Way.”
Mayweather, of course, has about $150 million reasons to fight Pacquiao again.