No one does a news conference quite like Floyd Mayweather, even if it’s approaching midnight.
So what if the undisputed and undefeated pound-for-pound champion was grounded at a commuter airport outside of New York for more than four hours because of weather? That minor inconvenience wasn’t going to keep the highest paid athlete on the planet away from the District for the second stop on a five-city tour promoting Mayweather’s rematch with Marcos Maidana on Sept. 13 in Las Vegas.
Mayweather has a particular affinity for the city in part because his closest confidant, Leonard Ellerbe, a D.C. native, serves as CEO of Mayweather Promotions. So both were determined to make an appearance at Constitution Hall regardless of the lengthy delay and despite flying into Dulles International Airport, adding another hour to the car ride downtown.
“Mother nature. There’s nothing we can do about it when faced with a situation like that,” Mayweather said during an interview in his dressing room with reporters, four to be exact, who came for a news conference originally scheduled for 7:15 p.m. “Only thing we can do is have patience and just wait it out. I had to come to D.C. D.C. is a place that has supported me for so many years.”
Eager fans — approximately 1,000 at the event’s start — didn’t necessarily mind hanging around either. They were treated to a performance free of charge from hometown rapper Wale. Their numbers had thinned considerably by the time Mayweather walked onto the stage, but the fervor of those who remained was hardly diminished.
Once Mayweather arrived shortly after 11 p.m., the most skilled fighter of his, if not any, generation wasted no time in graciously acknowledging the loyal support he has received for years in the Washington metropolitan area, rendering his opponent as all but a footnote to the proceedings.
Much like his unflappable demeanor in the ring, Mayweather showed no signs of weariness despite having opened the four-day cross-country junket Monday morning in Manhattan before finally heading to the District. Then it's off to Chicago, San Antonio and Los Angeles.
“Loyal fans. That’s why I had to come to D.C. and show love,” Mayweather said. “Unbelievable turnout in New York City. I’m pretty sure we’ll have a great turnout also, but like I said before, I’m thankful for all the fans because without the fans, Floyd Mayweather wouldn’t be where he’s at.”
Mayweather, frequently an unapologetic showman, arrived understated this time, wearing jeans a cotton sweater with green and orange horizontal stripes. Members of his entourage, on the other hand, sported plenty of gear emblazoned with "TMT," short for The Money Team and an homage to Mayweather’s nickname, "The Money Man."
If there's anything Mayweather has mastered as much as boxing, it's how to make a buck. Hundreds of millions of them, in fact.
In February 2013, Mayweather signed a deal with Showtime for six fights in 30 months that, according to the network, was the most lucrative for any athlete in history. Published reports estimate Mayweather stands to earn a quarter of a billion dollars over the life of the contract.
In his most recent fight against Maidana May 3, Mayweather was guaranteed a minimum of $32 million, with pay-per-view buys increasing that amount. Mayweather ran his record to 46-0 via majority decision, with one judge scoring the bout a draw, thus compelling the 11-time, five-division world champion to issue a rematch.
One fight before Maidana (35-4), Mayweather earned a $41.5 million purse after a unanimous decision against Saul Alvarez. The payout swelled to $80 million when factoring in pay-per-view revenue that generated a record $150 million.
Mayweather has been part of the four highest grossing non-heavyweight bouts of all-time, including a 2007 showdown against Oscar De La Hoya that featured a record 2.5 million pay-per-view buys.
“First of all, we’d like to thank you for all your patience,” Ellerbe told the crowd when the proceedings began. “It’s definitely worth the wait.”