At peak of career, Mayweather ready to leave boxing

Originally Published: November 5, 2006
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather's post-fight press conference should have been televised on HBO PPV because it sure had a lot more drama than his fight against Carlos Baldomir did on Saturday.

Forty minutes after Mayweather easily outpointed Baldomir to win the welterweight championship and confirm his status as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, he strolled into the Mandalay Bay media room and dropped a bombshell.

In an emotional scene, he said he will retire after his next fight.

He arrived at the press conference dressed in a dark suit and flashing his broad smile. The interview session figured to serve as a victory lap following his dominating performance and to start the drumbeat for an eventual showdown with Oscar De La Hoya.

However, moments after taking the podium, Mayweather's mood suddenly changed as he was overcome with emotion.

Searching for words, Mayweather choked up before turning to weep on HBO executive Kery Davis' shoulder.

After Mayweather regained his composure a couple of minutes later and wiped his face with a white towel, he found the words that took everyone by surprise.

"I love the sport," Mayweather said in a soft voice as he continued to wipe away tears. "One more fight and I'm through. I don't need boxing. I'm not in it for the money. It's about legacy. I'm rich and I've accomplished what I want."

There was a stunned silence in the room, one that included several members of Mayweather's family, after hearing the No. 1 fighter in the sport -- at his peak at age 29 -- say he would walk away from boxing after one more fight.

"When I heard him say that I thought of Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. I thought of Michael Jordan when he went to play baseball," said Davis, who is close with Mayweather. "Oftentimes when guys are at the top of their game, and they don't know what is left to accomplish, they do that."

Although most are skeptical about the announcement -- how many fighters have announced a retirement only to change their mind almost immediately? -- Mayweather was convincing. His emotional breakdown was certainly no act.

"I'm leaving on top. That's what it's about," said Mayweather, who has won five titles in four divisions. "I'm not hurting for money, for nothing. I love my family. They tore my name down, tore my family down and I still rose to the top."

Throughout his career, Mayweather has dealt with a litany of problems. There have been several assault accusations; criticism from fans and media over many of the fights he has taken; a nasty split with promoter Bob Arum; an even nastier split with his estranged father and former trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr.; the license revocation and subsequent incarceration of uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather and other dramas.

It all seemed to finally get the better of Mayweather.

Over and over, he promised one more fight and then retirement.

"I thought about retiring after the Zab Judah fight [in April]," Mayweather said. "The sport has been great to me. When I die, my legacy will live on. One more fight and I am through."

Over and over, he said he wasn't in boxing for the money, although he earned at least $8 million to fight Baldomir.

"I got a lot of money. I couldn't spend it in a billion lifetimes," Mayweather continued. "It's about being a legend in the sport, and I am a legend. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in this sport. I won the titles I wanted to win.

"I don't need no five-star restaurants. You can give me McDonald's and I'm cool with that. Give me Pizza Hut."

"I got a lot of money. I couldn't spend it in a billion lifetimes. It's about being a legend in the sport, and I am a legend. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in this sport. I won the titles I wanted to win."
Floyd Mayweather

Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's best friend, adviser and assistant trainer, said he would support him in any decision he made.

"I love Floyd unconditionally, so I stand behind him 100 percent," said Ellerbe, who served as head trainer Saturday during Roger Mayweather's absence. "If he hangs his gloves up tomorrow, I'm with him. I'm with him for life."

In one of the lighter moments of the session, Mayweather (37-0, 24 KOs), who hurt his right hand around the sixth round but barely needed to break a sweat to beat Baldomir (43-10-6, 13 KOs), said what everyone knew: "It was a cakewalk if you want to know the truth."

Mayweather said he wanted his final fight to be against De La Hoya, a junior middleweight titlist and boxing's greatest economic force. He is trained by Mayweather Sr., adding another juicy dimension to what would already be a mega fight.

A De La Hoya-Mayweather fight -- with a target date of May 5 -- would be a massive event and is the only fight in the sport that figures to easily draw more than one million pay-per-view buys.

"I know we'll make the De La Hoya fight happen," Mayweather said. "We still got another big fight to do, but if it's not on my terms it won't happen."

That is probably unrealistic, given De La Hoya's proven drawing power combined with Mayweather's less-than-stellar public appeal. He drew just 9,427 fans Saturday night and his previous two pay-per-view fights haven't cracked 375,000 buys. The Baldomir fight probably won't either.

De La Hoya fight or not, Mayweather said he is content with his decision to quit after his next fight.

"As of right now, I know what I want to do," he said. "I'm happy."

He said he would remain involved in boxing in some capacity. He said he planned to start Mayweather Promotions and work with adviser Al Haymon to expand his outside-the-ring business opportunities.

Mayweather also said he planned to go back to school to earn his GED. He dropped out in 12th grade to devote himself full time to making the 1996 Olympic team, where he received a bronze medal.

Davis was as stunned as anyone by Mayweather's announcement.

"Obviously, whatever he wants to do, we will always wish him the best," Davis said. "We've had a great relationship. We'll wish him the best with whatever he wants to do with the rest of his life. But he's certainly at the top of his game right now, so him leaving the sport at this point would certainly surprise anyone.

"But I'm not fighting anybody. Nobody is hitting me. I would never try to talk anyone into doing what they don't feel like they want to do anymore."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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