LAS VEGAS — It was past midnight Thursday when Floyd Mayweather Jr. finished his nightly workout, but he was still hours away from going to sleep. Instead, he cooled down, changed his clothes and made his way to his nightly retreat.
It wasn’t until nearly 2:50 a.m. that Mayweather poked his head through the front door of Girl Collection, the Las Vegas gentleman’s club he owns. In the days leading up to his highly anticipated boxing match against Conor McGregor, he’s been capping off each and every training session by coming here late at night, under the flashing lights and surrounded by booming bass and young women in various states of undress.
For Mayweather, it’s a sanctuary of sorts, but also a serious business. “Women will always be in style,” he says by way of explaining his investment.
The undefeated boxer plans to be here the night before his big bout and in the hours afterward, too, when a big party is planned. Mayweather said sections of the club, which typically charges a $50 cover, have already been reserved for Saturday for $10,000, $12,000 and $20,000. It’s certainly not the typical fight-week training regimen, but Mayweather has always operated on his own schedule and on his own terms. Asked about his late-night visits, he seems almost bemused.
“How do I have time? I mean, I’m living,” he said. “That’s how I have time. That’s life.”
It’s his life at least, and Mayweather, a 40-year old father of four, sees nothing wrong with regular visits to a gentlemen’s club in the days leading up to what could be the most lucrative fight in sports history. Nocturnal sleeping habits aside, the music and dancing and crowds might seem like an unconventional way to relax, to focus, to lock in on a foe who has promised to destroy your legacy.
That legacy, of course, includes numerous domestic violence accusations that have tarnished Mayweather’s image outside the ring and made him a pariah for many. He pleaded guilty to counts of violence against women filed after separate incidents in 2002 and 2011. Another conviction, for an incident in 2003, was later dismissed.
At the very least, it’s another way for Mayweather to do what he loves most: make money. And this happens to be a venture in which Mayweather has a great deal of emotional investment.
“When I was locked up and doing time, I drew the club up,” he explained in the wee hours Thursday morning, referring to his 90-day sentence in 2011 related to domestic violence charges, a period he rarely details. “Look at my notes.” As the music played and the women danced, he thumbed through his phone, pulling up a photo with his detailed dreams for a strip club. “My lawyer Shane [Emerick] saved them for me,” he said.
Mayweather has always done things his own way. What hasn’t changed during his nearly two-year break from the ring that will officially end Saturday: He’s outlandish, rich and has built a business empire that he hopes outlasts him.
The club is one important part of that. A fighter in the ring, he’s a businessman outside of it and has undertaken a variety of ventures that operate under the umbrella of TMT — The Money Team — his venture mostly run by longtime friends and associates. In addition to Girl Collection, there’s a clothing line, a music agency, a marketing and branding firm, a fledgling sports agency and of course, Mayweather Promotions, the beating heart of the whole operation. He has plans to open a marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas, too, even though he doesn’t partake in the drug.
“That’s the reason I had a long career. I never drink liquor and I never engaged in drugs,” he said in his club, sipping from a water bottle with the TMT logo on it.
He says he has three jets but wants to downsize to one. It’s not clear how many vehicles he owns, but in 2015 he told ESPN that he had $15 million worth of cars that sit unused in his garage. He’s also suggested that his real estate holdings are worth $1.2 billion. Mayweather says he is invested in a pair of skyscrapers in Times Square, and quickly pulls up a photo in his phone, featuring an architectural model of One Vanderbilt, a 58-story building under construction that is set to be the city’s fourth-tallest building when it’s completed.
“My real estate portfolio is truly amazing,” he says. “The real estate, that’s very, very huge. That’s a huge part of my life.”
Forbes has estimated his career earnings at $700 million — though Mayweather has suggested that figure could be $100 million short — and many expect his earnings on Saturday to top $200 million for a single night’s work.
But is any of it enough? He promises Saturday will be his last fight, but he’s already retired once. Something keeps pulling him back.
“When you’re at that top level, you have the itch to let everybody know you still the king,” said Ricki Brazil, a childhood friend and longtime member of Mayweather’s team. “So he probably had that in the back of his mind. But he’s getting older, and he knows he has to step back and do other things, do other business ventures.”
Mayweather bristles at the suggestion that he was ever bored during his break from the ring, which began after he defeated Andre Berto in September 2015 to improve his record to 49-0. He says he can be perfectly content as a former fighter, a man with investments, real estate and the keys to his own gentleman’s club.
“I’m happy. I’m comfortable,” he explained this week. “I still make millions of dollars from smart investments. I was at home, just sitting back, relaxing, traveling the world with my daughter. Sometimes we’re in Bora Bora. Sometimes we’re in the Maldives. Sometimes we’re in Moscow, Russia. Sometimes we’re in Dubai. We’re all around the world on Air Mayweather. I was just living life.”
But in Vegas, the Girl Collection is a regular part of his routine. Even before Mayweather arrived at the club early Thursday morning, his image was visible on video screens behind the dancers, and the TMT logo was projected onto one wall. When he finally walked, closer to sunrise than sunset, two women were dancing on the main stage and $1 bills were flying in the air. Mayweather wore a black shirt with TBE — “The Best Ever” — emblazoned in gold and a giant smile. He was trailed by a couple of bodyguards. One held a leather bag and pulled out a stack of cash for Mayweather.
For Mayweather, money has always been a tape measure. He grew up without it. And when he got some of it, he immediately wanted more. Mayweather was earning good money fighting for Top Rank promotions, certainly enough to live on, invest and someday pass down.
The start of the Mayweather empire was realizing he wanted more, and buying his way out of his promotional contract in 2006 to pursue it. By becoming his own promoter in 2007, Mayweather went from boxer to brand. He became boss and financier to friends and family and all of their ideas.
Rod Braswell, for example, used to be in charge of getting Mayweather’s equipment ready for training sessions. Now he’s responsible for a sports management company under the Mayweather umbrella. “What I’ve been doing is going out getting all the connections, going all around the country recruiting players, mostly, basketball players,” he said. “We’re gonna be a one-stop shop.”
Braswell met Mayweather three decades ago in Grand Rapids, Mich. He’s three years older and back then was in charge of keeping an eye on the 10-year-old everyone called Lil Floyd.
“He was small, but he was feisty,” Braswell recalled. “Guys would push up on him and I got into a few scuffles over Lil Floyd.”
Brazil was also a childhood friend. They sat in classrooms together and played on the same basketball teams. “You always knew when Floyd was in the room,” Brazil says. “He’s the same person today but just with a lot more money.”
Brazil moved to Vegas in 2007 and helped coordinate Mayweather’s schedule and appearances. He launched a women’s clothing line and also runs Regal Management Group, aimed at developing and promoting music artists.
But this year he has spent the bulk of his time managing the Girl Collection.
“It’s something he talked about over a decade ago,” Brazil said. “He always talked about opening one, but he always put his boxing first. He couldn’t put the time into it. But then he wasn’t fighting, so he could put his time into it, his money and made it happen. It was a passion, something he always wanted.
“But he’s a businessman, so of course he wants to make money off of it too.”
Mayweather doesn’t have anything close to a business degree and shrugs off knocks against his lack of formal education. “Obviously I’m doing something right if I already made $800 million without no endorsement deal,” he recently explained.
While he likes to joke that the only thing he needs to read is the numbers on his paychecks, he wants more for his children. He knows he’s reached a point where his earnings will likely impact future generations of Mayweathers.
“I want my kids to do something that I wasn’t able to do: I want them to be able to go college,” he said, “and then the businesses that I leave for them, I want them to be able to take those businesses and take them to the next level. If I took a business and made $100 million, I want them to take it to the next level to make $400 million or $500 million … I’ve built different businesses and got businesses started so my children’s children can take over someday.”
He has two daughters, ages 17 and 13. He feels no sense of shame about Girl Collection and doesn’t keep his club a secret from them.
“She loves it,” he said of his oldest daughter, who lives with him. “I always tell my kids the truth. That’s what they like about me: We have an honest relationship. I told my daughters, someday they’re going to run this … I don’t like to hide nothing from them. This is the real world.”
And if his daughters wanted to perform rather than manage a club?
“If they do want to dance, it’s up to them and there’s nothing I can do,” he said. “Once they’re at a certain age, I would never let them dance in my club.”
Mayweather says the Girl Collection will be a multimillion dollar business. He thinks it can be franchised and also provide the backdrop for a reality show, which means more money for him.
It’s difficult to get a full grasp of the Mayweather portfolio. Mayweather Promotions is headed by Leonard Ellerbe, who worked the corner for so many of Mayweather’s biggest fights. While Brazil launched the women’s clothing line with Mayweather’s backing, the fighter’s TMT clothing line is ever-present around Vegas. Success Management Group is a marketing and branding firm, TMT Music Group handles musical artists, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation is the fighter’s nonprofit organization. The mother of one of his children runs a Las Vegas clothing boutique.
Despite any successes related to these ventures, those around him say Mayweather will always have a competitive itch. That, and a desire to be in the limelight. The money, of course, is what really lured Mayweather back into the ring this weekend. It’s not likely his investments or strip club can ever fill that competitive void, but Mayweather is entertaining other ideas.
“I thought about buying an NBA team,” he said this week, “I thought about investing in an NFL team, but we just don’t know what the future holds.”
It’s not clear how liquid Mayweather’s fortune is, even if he likes to showcase piles of money on social media and in front of television cameras. There’s also been questions about an outstanding tax bill from 2005. The IRS filed a tax lien saying Mayweather owes the government more than $22 million from 2015. Mayweather has said he already paid $26 million in taxes that year, and while promoting the McGregor fight last month, he told reporters that he “already took care” of the matter.
At the Girl Collection, as the night wound down, he didn’t seem concerned about pinching pennies. He claimed in the previous 48 hours, his various business entities earned him $4.5 million, though he doesn’t divulge exactly how.
A song by Rick Ross called “Trap Trap Trap” played and he motioned for a pair of dancers to perform on the pole in front of him. Two others sat next to him. As the song wound down, he passed out a few hundred dollar bills, and a DJ beckoned one of the girls to the main stage. Mayweather excitedly echoed the call.
“Red Rose to the main stage!” he yelled, patting the young woman on the bottom.
He says he played a role in every aspect of building the club, but notes that the performers are strictly employees.
“What I learned about this business is this: No matter how pretty women are at your club, never dip your pen in company ink,” he said. “I already got a lot of women because having one is too close to having none. You hanging out with the girls in the club, it’ll cause a problem.”
The bass kept booming, but Mayweather showed no signs of slowing down. He planned to leave the club by 5 a.m. He’d get nine-plus hours of sleep, he said, and then start a new day the next afternoon. The clock kept ticking and the opening bell would soon ring on the final fight of his career. But first, business calls, training and then eventually, back to his club.
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