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Floyd Mayweather Jr in the mold of Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. addresses the media yesterday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas announcing his May 3rd bout against Argentina's Marcos Maidana.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. addresses the media yesterday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas announcing his May 3rd bout against Argentina's Marcos Maidana.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

There is no question that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. runs on his own time. He was supposed to be at a press conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to hype his May 3 bout against Argentina's Marcos Maidana at noon yesterday.

Mayweather showed up an hour late at one o'clock.

He sometimes can be defiant, other times truculent, often times confrontational but that's simply Floyd being Floyd. He fits well into the mold of other great boxing champions such as Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali who also marched to the beat of their own drummer. They were unapologetic for their beliefs and their actions for they were who they were and the rest of the world just had to deal with it.

A room full of media types were forced to stare at an empty dais for that hour until a bleary-eyed and smiling Mayweather finally strutted into the room.

"I was up late," he said through a Cheshire Cat-like grin. "I was up gambling last night. I was here at the MGM Grand, caused a riot."

Mayweather has faced criticism lately for hand-picking opponents and for what some say is an avoidance of what they perceive to be his most significant foil - Manny Pacquiao. But Mayweather makes no apologies and explains that after going 45 straight fights as an undefeated pro, having won titles in five weight divisions and having earned more money than anybody in the sport has ever earned he can basically do whatever he wants.

"I wanna' state for the record, Floyd Mayweather is not scared of no opponent, I don't duck and dodge nobody," he said. "But like I said before, I've earned my stripes so I can pick and choose. I fight who I want to fight. Nobody is forced to watch me."

While both Johnson and Ali had their issues with the law, the federal government and the media they never apologized for their beliefs or for who they were and Mayweather is much the same. He admitted yesterday that his mind jumps from subject to subject and he mentioned that he is involved with selecting his opposition, laying out the plans for a stable of fighters under his own promotional banner and deciding in what venue his fights will take place.

A confident Mayweather ran the press conference on his own yesterday and it is as clear he is now as comfortable in front of a mic as he in the ring. Several years ago he bought out his promotional contract from Bob Arum's Top Rank for $750,000. It was seen as a maverick move and one that was fraught with peril. But that move, which was a gamble, simply allowed him to go on to bigger and better things as a fighter and a businessman.

"I think the best move I ever made was leaving Top Rank. The best move I ever made in my whole career was leaving Top Rank," he repeated for emphasis. "You know I was making seven figures with them, but once I left them I made eight figures, so that was the best move I ever made in my whole career, becoming my own boss, being able to dictate what I want to do with my career."

Many in the industry believe that Mayweather should be more traditional in his approach and fight the obvious contenders and adhere to the same staid routine and formulaic approach that most other fighters adhere to. While other fighters follow the rules of the sport's sanctioning organizations, allow their promoters and managers to select their opponents and control their business deals - Mayweather acts as the Grandmaster and directs each move of his career with the help of his longtime advisers. As a result, he has been involved in the top two grossing bouts in boxing history against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 and with Saul Alvarez in 2013 and has earned more money than any prizefighter in boxing history.

Mayweather is unconventional and he is controversial but it is those characteristics that have separated him from the rest of the pack. He has taken the term prizefighting to another level and just as his nickname "Money" implies, when it is all said and done, there may be no other boxer that will surpass his earning achievements.

As a young men, when the federal government was breathing down their necks and when others tried to advise them as to correct thing to do or the traditional and conventional methods and norms - Johnson and Ali did made their own choices. They never apologized for being who they were at their core or what they believed. They were confident trailblazers, free spirits and renegades who spoke their mind and lived with the decisions they made. It's why nearly 100 years since Johnson was champion and 35 years since Ali was, people still remember them.

Listening to Mayweather speak now, there is a sense that he has some of those same qualities. He has matured over the past few years and after 18 years in the fight racket with most of those spent as a champion of some division or other, one realizes that he has finally grown into his role as an outspoken and unapologetic champion that will also be remembered for many years to come.

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