Jabs don't bother Mayweather before bout

Published: Saturday, May. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 1:45 pm

LAS VEGAS – He claims to be more mature now, chastened by a stint in jail and eager to be just as much a businessman as a fighter. Indeed, Floyd Mayweather Jr., acted almost statesmanlike earlier this week when Robert Guerrero's father began screaming that Mayweather was a woman beater who would finally get beaten himself tonight.

"The fighters are the ones who fight, not the fathers," Mayweather said calmly.

If it's an act, it's a pretty good one. Armed with a new six-fight television deal with Showtime that should keep him the world's highest-paid athlete, Mayweather has mostly taken the high road while promoting his fight against Guerrero as must-see TV for anyone who has an extra $69.95 for the pay per view.

The two meet in a scheduled 12-round World Boxing Council welterweight title match at the MGM Grand hotel in Mayweather's first fight in a year. It's also his first ring appearance since serving a jail term for assaulting the mother of his children, an experience he said helped him grow up.

Sometimes, though, he can't help himself. The old Mayweather surfaces, complete with the bad-boy persona that has made him the biggest draw in boxing.

It could be that Mayweather as the promoter is trying to give a fight that still hasn't sold out some much-needed buzz. More likely, he's looking for a bit of a mental edge for a bout that, despite 6-1 odds in his favor, could be very competitive.

He called Guerrero a hypocrite for promoting himself as a devout Christian, then getting arrested on gun charges in New York. He mocked him for bringing up his jail sentence when he may face one himself.

And a few days before the fight, he even accused Guerrero of trying to win fans by using his wife's leukemia – which she overcame with a bone marrow transplant – to get sympathy.

"I'm glad she was able to beat leukemia, which is a great thing," Mayweather said. "But they keep selling the same story. It's time to talk about something different."

Guerrero has had his share of things to say about Mayweather, too, though it was Guerrero's father who made the loudest statement when he repeatedly called Mayweather a woman beater at the final prefight news conference. The game plan in the Guerrero camp is the same as it will be in the ring – not to back off when challenged.

"That's part of his game, getting under your skin and getting you off your game," Robert Guerrero said. "It's not working. He's in for a fight, and he knows it."

None of the talk matters, of course, once the two men finally meet. The title belt at stake doesn't matter all that much, either, in an era of inflated and cheap titles.

Mayweather has a franchise to protect, one that has made him untold millions of dollars since he beat Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 to catapult into the top ranks. He'll earn another $40 million or so to fight Guerrero and try to remain perfect in 44 professional fights.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Tim Dahlberg

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