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Saturday, July 2, 2011

BOXING: Mayweather a polarizing figure

Love him or hate him, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will go down as one of the best fighters of all time. He also will be remembered as someone who brought a magical tone, a mystique, to any event.

Mayweather was booed during Wednesday night's open-to-the-public outdoor news conference at L.A. Live to promote his Sept. 17 challenge to welterweight world champion Victor Ortiz at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

But when he mentioned that he must have Mexican fans because you don't get to be where he is without beating a lot of great Mexican fighters, he was enthusiastically cheered. Of the roughly 1,000 in attendance, 95 percent of the fans were for Ortiz.

Minus a catcall or two, fans hung on Mayweather's every word.

Reporters did, too, when they sat down with Mayweather following the proceedings. When Mayweather, perhaps the most beautifully polished boxer of the past 50 years, speaks, people listen. It's because he's a spectacular fighter, one who has multiple arrests and lawsuits against him. Controversy sells.

Sitting quietly at the dais and flanked by three of his children, Mayweather listened as Ortiz's manager, Rolando Arellano, loudly complained he was tired of hearing Mayweather and reporters talk about Mayweather's next fight being against Manny Pacquiao.

Arellano appeared to be angry as he spoke. Mayweather didn't care.

"We only want to fight the biggest and the best out there and Manny Pacquiao,

yes, you're next," Mayweather said after Arellano sat down.

There may or may not be a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in our future. There still is the Olympic-style drug testing Mayweather will demand.

Pacquiao agreed to a modified version of blood testing in January 2010, but not to the random regimen outlined by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and that's the biggest reason why the potentially record-breaking bout didn't materialize. Pacquiao then supposedly - according to his promoter, Bob Arum - agreed to the random testing in July 2010, but the Mayweather camp insisted there never was a second round of negotiations.

One of the current complaints against Mayweather is a defamation suit filed by Pacquiao, who alleged that Mayweather and his father (Floyd Sr.) and uncle (Roger) accused him of being on performance-enhancing drugs. That didn't stop Mayweather and his adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, from bringing that up Wednesday.

"In the wildest way, I can't imagine why anybody would be against more-stringent testing when something like that is better for the sport," Ellerbe said.

Mayweather, 34, said more than that.

"I represent the red, white and blue," he said. "In this country, they say Barry Bonds is cheating because he gained so much weight, but then - and once again, I'm not saying Pacquiao's cheating; I'm not saying that - but it's OK for him to gain that much weight. And you all say, `You know what, he's not doing nothing.' I don't know. I'm not saying it's true or false. I don't know if Bob Arum is paying you guys to write certain stories. I can't say."

Mayweather also spoke of a conversation he said he had with "Sugar" Shane Mosley after Mosley lost a one-sided decision to Pacquiao in May.

"Me and Shane talked and he told me the truth," Mayweather said. "These words are what Shane told me. He said, `Floyd, if I were you, I'd make Pacquiao take the test.' "

That fight won't happen if Pacquiao doesn't agree to the USADA testing, Mayweather said. And, he wondered, just imagine if the tables were turned.

"If I didn't want to take the test, oh, man: `Floyd Mayweather's hiding something,' " Mayweather said.

Several reporters interviewing Mayweather nodded in agreement.

As for Ortiz, it was Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) who reached out to Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, about making this fight. Mayweather was on hand when Ortiz took the title from Andre Berto in April.

"It was a hell of a fight and it motivated me to want to get back in the ring," said Mayweather, who last fought in May 2010, against Mosley. "He's a young, strong fighter."

And one who was doing his best to create his own brand of controversy by cursing up a storm.

"I am the new WBC champion of the world and there is nobody that will pry that (expletive) out of my hands," Ortiz said.

Several hours earlier, during a telephone conversation, Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) bemoaned that he was strongly criticized by reporters after he was stopped in the sixth round by Marcos Maidana in June 2009. Ortiz quit, many wrote. Now, it sounds like Ortiz wants to make someone eat those words.

"I really don't care what anyone has to say about me," said Ortiz, 24, of Ventura. "The media destroyed me, so therefore, they gave me no love for anything. You guys took my heart from me and ripped it out.

"At the end of the day, I still have heart. I know what I'm here for. I know what I'm going to do to Mayweather, period."

Yes, lose, because Mayweather is just too good.


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