LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. riveted a small group of reporters Tuesday, talking for more than an hour about his humble roots, Manny Pacquiao's alleged steroids use and Bob Arum's supposed untruths.
He told a poignant story of how one of his childhood homes had no hot water and so, in order to take a bath, he had to heat water on the stove and mix it with tap water in order to be comfortable.
His voice quivered with emotion at times as he recalled receiving $500 in a Western Union telegram from a boxing manager he didn't know at a time his mother was on the verge of financial ruin.
"Five hundred dollars! I couldn't imagine that kind of money," he said, staring into space.
Mayweather, like any great entertainer, saved the best material for last. Whether you want to call it a tirade, a rant or a soliloquy, he turned up the heat as he addressed arch-rival Pacquiao, promoter Arum and performance-enhancing drugs.
Mayweather, who will fight Miguel Cotto on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in an HBO Pay-Per-View event expected to sell more than 1.5 million units, paced around the tiny room, pounding his chest and pouring his heart out for the better part of 15 minutes as he discussed Pacquiao.
Pacquiao has filed a defamation suit against Mayweather for alleging Pacquiao has taken performance-enhancing drugs. On Tuesday, Mayweather could barely contain his fury, even though no one had asked him about Pacquiao when he began his jaw-dropping tirade.
Mayweather approached a veteran reporter who has covered his career starting in his amateur days. The unbeaten boxer knelt down in front of the reporter, placed his hand on the reporter's hand and essentially said he wouldn't fight Pacquiao unless he was convinced Pacquiao isn't using any PEDs.
"Can I ask you a question?" Mayweather said to the reporter. "Do you do the things that you do to make you happy, or do what you do to make everybody else happy, people you don't know?"
The reporter said he did things to make himself happy, at which point, Mayweather jumped to his feet and began pacing animatedly around the room, where more than a dozen members of what he calls "The Money Team," were listening to their boss with rapt attention.
"When my career is over, anything can happen and my health is more important than anything," Mayweather said, pounding his heart with his fist several times as he spoke. "I'm not saying nobody is, or nobody is not doing it. But my health is more important than anything. Guess what? When my career is over, if I'm hurt, or something is going on, because something has happened in a fight, I can't come to you and say, 'Yo, I need you to pay my rent for this month. I need you to pay my bills for this month. I need you to pay my car note. I need you to put my kids through school.'
"So, my health is more important. So, you're an American, right? I'm an American. I was in the Olympics. I represented the red, white and blue. You know what the American writers should say? 'Well, why is this guy from another country coming over here and making money [and] taking it back to his country?' Once again, I'm feeding American citizens every day. All I ask is, give a little blood, give a little urine. That's a crime?"
When told Arum, his former promoter who now promotes Pacquiao, said Pacquiao had agreed to Mayweather's testing demands, Mayweather again acted as if he'd lost his cool.
He raised his voice and screeched at the mere mention of Arum.
"Now you're listening to a professional liar," Mayweather said of Arum. "Come on! Come on, man! Come on, man. Arum? Arum keeps people on his payroll. If I got to put you on my payroll, let me know. Arum is already known for doing … He's a lawyer, so we already know he's a professional liar.
"Can I ask you a question? Where was Manny Pacquiao at in '96? He was a pro before me. Where was he at in '97? Where was he at in '98? Where was he at all these years?"
When a reporter asked, "So you are convinced [Pacquiao is using PEDs]?" Mayweather said the situation is "basic common sense." He said Pacquiao's hat size had "probably grown" from a 7 1/4 to an 8. Head growth is one sign of the use of anabolic steroids.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef was in New York on business and could not be reached to respond to Mayweather's allegations against his company, Arum and Pacquiao.
Arum declined to comment on being called a liar, saying, "It would demean me if I responded to Floyd Mayweather saying something like that."
On behalf of Pacquiao, Arum said, "This is like he's working for Manny's attorneys and giving more and more material to them for the defamation case."
Mayweather said it had taken him years to move up to get to where he is now. He said it wasn't worth the risk of fighting someone on PEDs, and dragged fighter Shane Mosley into the conversation. Mosley admitted he used steroids doing the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) scandal in the middle of the last decade.
Since his 2010 fight in Las Vegas with Mosley, Mayweather has required all opponents he faces to agree to what he calls "Olympic-style random testing," in which either fighter can be required to give blood or urine samples to look for prohibited substances with no notice.
Mosley, Victor Ortiz and now Cotto have all agreed to the testing regimen. Pacquiao initially declined, but told Yahoo! Sports in February that he agreed to the testing. Pacquiao said the reason the fight isn't happening from his point of view is that Mayweather had offered him a $40 million purse with no upside on the pay-per-view, and not a 50-50 purse split as he demanded.
"This is how this world is, writers are saying, 'Floyd is scared,' " Mayweather said. "No, Floyd cares about his family. Floyd is smart. At the end of the day, Floyd is smart. My health is important. My health is more important than money. They can take all the money and my health is more important. If they say, 'Floyd, you can live a healthy life like you is right now, or you got to walk with a limp, and walk all bent over, but you can have a lot of money for the rest of your life,' I'd say, 'Take it all back.
"You see what happened when [Mosley] was doing it. What happened to fighters when he was juicing? He was running through fighters. Then all of a sudden, guess what? I spoke on it and when I spoke on it, everybody was like, 'Ah, Floyd's just scared.' Then, when you took it off of him and put him in front of me, what did he do? Got killed."
Mayweather then railed on American reporters in the room for not being sympathetic to him. He said he donates money to needy Americans, but said Pacquiao takes the money he makes in the U.S. out of the country.
He then alluded to the impending 90-day jail sentence he faces June 1 after pleading guilty in a Las Vegas court to domestic violence charges. He said he took the plea to keep his son from having to testify.
"Jail don't scare me," he said. "I don't worry about that. As long as my family is OK, because I done it for my family and my loved ones. I don't feed American citizens because I want to get praised by the media. I don't call nobody. I do it because it's the right thing to do. If I got it, give it to them.
"When I make it, I give back. I just want you to tell me one thing: What has Pacquiao given back to the American citizens?"
At that point, he approached a reporter, shook his hand, said, "Have a good day," and then proceeded to pace quickly out of the room as his team first cheered and then gleefully marched behind him.
It was quite the show, and the fight was still four days away.
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