By Toby Prince
The pound-per-pound and all-time pay-per-view king defends his welterweight title against Andre Berto (30-3, 23 knockouts).
For 38-year-old Mayweather, who made his professional debut in 1996, the fight marks the final instalment of his six-fight deal with Showtime and he vows it will be the last act of his storied career.
A win over Berto would tie him with Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0, making for an odd juncture to take an exit.
But Mayweather insists that Saturday will be the last time we see him in boxing togs.
“If you stick around anything too long, anything can happen. I’m not really worried about losing,” he said. “You can make a lot of money, but you still want to be able to talk, walk, and have a sharp mind.”
In a sport where fighters are notorious for going in and out of retirement, legends such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson all fought on after the thrill and skills were gone.
More than once, Sugar Ray Leonard retired and then retired from his retirement.
“I don’t know what’s (on) Floyd’s mind,” Leonard said. “I don’t think money will be factor for him, but there is no feeling in the world like having your hand raised in a championship fight.”
If Mayweather does have a weakness, it is that he has always been susceptible to a jab down the middle. Berto has a fast and potent left jab, which his trainer, Virgil Hunter, has been carefully honing.
“Andre’s boxing IQ is nowhere near Floyd’s but Andre has the intangibles to disrupt that IQ.” Hunter said. “The key to victory for Andre is to not get frustrated and to bring back a key after every round and I will help open the lock to victory.”
The challenge is that an aggressive fighter is open to Mayweather’s counter right hand, one of the best in history.
What can an attacking Berto do to avoid getting cracked with that famous right? “He needs to jab when Mayweather is punching and at the same time, stay in position,” Hunter said.
The MGM Grand lists Mayweather as a 1-30 favourite (bet $30 to net $1) for the fight.
“I don’t take time out of my day to sit down and look at the odds,” said Berto, whose family was severely affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. “If that was the case I shouldn’t have made it out of where I came from because making it out of there is slim to none.”