NEW YORK -- On a humid June afternoon, Floyd Mayweather settled into a chair inside a Times Square hotel and did one of the things he does best: He made stuff up.
He scolded reporters for daring to doubt his intention to return to the ring so quickly, forgetting that he has danced in and out of retirement for years, forgetting that since beating Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, he has fought about as often as most go to the dentist. He rambled on about his reasons for his Sept. 14 fight with junior middleweight champion Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez being contested at 152 pounds, hoping no one in the room would remember that he has repeatedly blasted Manny Pacquiao for forcing opponents to fight at a catchweight. He yammered on about how Pacquiao was a media creation, ignoring the one-sided beatings Pacquiao put on De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito along the way.
It was vintage Mayweather, arrogant and unflinching, supremely confident and making statements anyone with a smartphone could quickly refute.
Welcome to the wild world of Mayweather, where reality lives more than a few streets over. For all the things there are to like about Mayweather, for all the attention he brings to the sport, for his efforts -- altruistic or not -- to bring blood and urine testing to boxing, for the unrivaled skill he carries into the ring, it's hard to take most of what he says seriously. He defended the recent PED busts by a pair of fighters he promotes -- Mickey Bey and J'Leon Love -- by blaming a doctor for giving Bey enough testosterone to spike his levels to the second highest in Nevada history and dismissing the diuretic J'Leon Love used to cut weight as "not an enhancement." He dismissed the possibility of fighting beyond the final five fights of his deal, only to suggest, unprompted, that he may carry on even longer just a few days later.
For better or worse, this is Mayweather, and the circus isn't leaving town anytime soon. The decision to fight Alvarez was purely financial -- if he really wanted to fight him, he would have put him on his last undercard, a common practice in building future fights -- but Mayweather gets credit for taking the biggest challenge, too. The fall of Pacquiao coupled with a dearth of seasoned opponents between 140 and 154 pounds has left the field wide open, and Alvarez stands as the biggest threat in it. He's fast and powerful, young and hungry, and history suggests that when Mayweather fights above 147 pounds, as he did against De La Hoya in 2007 and Cotto in '12, he is prone to take more punishment.
But he won't against Alvarez, and we all know it. Canelo may be the future of boxing, but he is light years from being ready to stake his claim to it. Most of his wins were racked up in Mexico, and most of his recent opponents were either too short (Carlos Baldomir, Shane Mosley), too small (Josesito Lopez) or too average (Kermit Cintron, Alfonso Gomez) to give him any trouble. He picked up a legitimate win in April, decisioning Austin Trout, but it was hardly convincing.
"I thought he got the victory, but I thought it was a lot closer," Mayweather said. "I wasn't impressed. Trout has never been in a fight with a crowd so huge, so there was a lot of pressure on him. When he got knocked down, I'm saying this from my experience in the sport, he thought it was a lot larger than what it was. Trout was the busier fighter. Canelo was landing the bigger shots."
The flaws in Alvarez can be corrected. They just need to be ironed out. He's like a rising Double-A prospect, can't miss, sure to be great. But he is stepping into the box against a Cy Young winner, and it doesn't take an expert to predict how that will turn out.
"Whatever the best thing my opponent brings to the table," Mayweather said, "I feel like I can do it better."
It's true, and it will continue to be because Mayweather's path to retirement has few daunting hurdles. For all the hype around Lucas Matthysse, his free-swinging style plays right into Mayweather's strengths. For all the money Amir Khan brings to the table, his skills are undoubtedly on the slide. For all the hype surrounding a Mayweather protege, Adrien Broner, neither teacher nor pupil seem interested in the fight.
"I look at Broner like Daniel-san, and I'm Mr. Miyagi," Mayweather said. "We never see Daniel-san go up against Mr. Miyagi."
On goes Mayweather, to big wins, to big paydays, into the history books. He will likely go into the Hall of Fame with an unblemished record, with a legacy as arguably the sport's best defensive fighter intact.
It irks Mayweather that few reasoned experts consider him among the all-time greats, of course, a feeling he isn't shy to share.
"It's not my fault I can make A- and B-level fighters look like D-level fighters," Mayweather said. "I look at Ali's career. He was a remarkable fighter. I feel he stood for a strong cause in his era. When he was at the top of his game, he was beating every fighter, but they were talking very bad about him. Now that he can barely talk, barely walk, barely write, people want to praise him. I don't want that."
Same as he ever was, Floyd Mayweather. One more fight, one more win, one more shining moment is almost assuredly coming his way. The threat of Pacquiao is gone, and it's never coming back. Here comes Mayweather, and there is no stopping him now.