Make no mistake; it’s still Floyd Mayweather Jr.
He wears more diamonds than a mall jewelry store. He doesn’t walk so much as he struts.
And his security detail would be the envy of every NFL offensive line coach.
But in spite of those similar appearances, Richard Schaefer insists some things have changed.
“It’s like he realizes he needs to be a different Floyd,” said the Golden Boy Promotions executive, whose company is teaming with Mayweather’s on a cross-country tour to promote his Sept. 14 fight with unbeaten Mexican heartthrob Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
“He realizes he’s the face of the sport. He realizes he’s the best-paid athlete in the world. And it seems like he’s ready to take on those responsibilities. He’s still got the self-promotional aspect about him and he still wants to be involved in every portion of things, but I think it’s good that boxing’s No. 1 star is growing into a role model.”
A pro for 17 years since winning a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, Mayweather has at times played dual roles as one of the sport’s premier fighters and, to some, as one if its most recognizable villains. He served time in a Nevada jail last summer after a domestic incident with the mother of his children, and, while he doesn’t specify that as a catalyst, he freely admits that he’s not the same man he once was.
Nor does he want to be.
“Sure I’m different than I used to be. Everyone should be,” he said. “Every five years you should become a different person. You change. You evolve. You have different experiences. If you don’t do all that, you’re just wasting time. You’re just running in place.”
Mayweather, at 36 years old, and his imminent foe, who’ll be 23 on fight night, have played exceedingly nice together through the first few legs of their fight-hyping trip, which opened in New York and has since played Washington D.C., Grand Rapids, Mich., Chicago and Atlanta.
It continues in Miami on Friday, heads to Mexico City on Sunday and will wrap up with dual-site events in Houston and San Antonio on Monday and in Phoenix and Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Those with a vested interest don’t expect the tenor to change.
“This fight doesn’t need any promotion,” said Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, who teamed with Mayweather to garner a record 2.4 million pay-per-view buys for their 2007 fight, which Mayweather won by split decision. “I’m glad there’s no trash talk, because when there’s trash talk, a lot of times it’s not a good fight. These guys have been very respectful and I hope they save it all for Sept. 14. If they get to 2.5 million, then I’ll come back to fight the winner and do 2.6.”
Alvarez, whose biggest wins have come against veteran Shane Mosley and previously unbeaten Austin Trout, has done a scripted nose-to-nose faceoff with Mayweather at each of the tour stops, but neither man has escalated matters with exaggerated gestures or chatter.
In fact, the closest either has come to publicly upstaging the other was Thursday in Atlanta, when Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe initiated a “U-S-A” chant to answer the “Mex-i-co” chant that came from Alvarez fans during Ellerbe’s microphone remarks.
But the comments from the fighters haven’t veered near disrespect.
Has Floyd Mayweather Jr. become easier to root for?
“A lot of his other opponents did a lot of barking, but Canelo doesn’t handle himself like that,” said Ramiro Gonzalez, a Golden Boy publicist who’s working on tour as one of Alvarez’s interpreters. “He’s very quiet and he sees Mayweather has been the same way, so there’s respect there. He’s not going to go in and stage something just to please the fans, and Floyd has approached things the same way.
“It’s refreshing to have two guys handling things like that.”
Follow Showtime’s all-access press tour blog daily at sports.sho.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.