Floyd Mayweather Jr. works out in front of members of the media during a training… (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)
LAS VEGAS — The two prime ribs of boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, continue to create their sizzle separately.
Their fight of the century, any century, seems to be going the way of the Edsel and the eight-track tape. Passage of time doesn't heal all, but it sure does dull things.
It is Mayweather's time now. Boxing is nothing if not a huge attention grab, and Mayweather is in the center ring of the circus he so deeply loves. He will fight Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand here May 5, and that correctly has the current spotlight. The bright lights will turn Pacquiao's way when he returns from the Philippines for a June 9 bout against Palm Springs' Timothy Bradley.
Earlier this week at Mayweather's gym, not far from the Strip, it was time to catch up with the most hated, beloved, despised and admired athlete of our time. There was virtually no talk of Pacquiao — perhaps even the media have quit caring, with fans soon to follow — and the only elephant in the room was Mayweather's pending 90-day jail sentence.
That will start June 1 and was allowed to be delayed until after his fight with Cotto by a Las Vegas judge who cited the need for the city's economy to have this fight.
So, it was back to hyping and selling, which Mayweather does as well as anybody who has ever laced up boxing gloves, with the obvious exception of Muhammad Ali. The jail time stuff, the result of a domestic violence case, was analyzed and rationalized by those around him.
"It's not about rehabbing his image," said Leonard Ellerbe, his business manager. "We'll just go on."
Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, one of Mayweather's administrators, agreed: "The fans, the public, know him. In America, people move on."
Mayweather himself, when asked about his upcoming incarceration, said, "I don't want to even think about that. My mind-set in life is that it is gonna be what it is gonna be."
Mayweather is 35, but the number he really likes is 42-0, his pro boxing record. Some say that zero after the 42 is, more than anything else, the fly in the ointment of the Pacquiao fight. Nobody really knows nor does anybody deny that Mayweather, love him or hate him, is a superb boxer. Cotto, at 154 pounds and clearly a bigger fighter than Mayweather has taken on since Oscar De La Hoya exactly five years ago May 5, is considered a dangerous opponent.
"Anybody who doesn't think that is foolish," Ellerbe said.
But Mayweather sniffed at the talk of Cotto's reinventing himself after a devastating loss to Antonio Margarito in the summer of 2008.
"Shane Mosley said he had reinvented himself after he beat Margarito," Mayweather said, "and you saw what happened when he fought me. There are 42 of those guys out there."
The time to the end of the bright lights for Mayweather is certainly not measured in decades, and there seemed a glimmer of recognition of that with Team Mayweather this time. Ellerbe talked about the charity and community service Mayweather does that is never made public. Among the quiet gestures he has made are bailing out the National Golden Gloves effort and paying for the recent funerals of fellow ring champions Genaro Hernandez and Joe Frazier.
But it is still tough to get all gooey and warm about Mayweather, who has a remarkable fan base and has grown that by leaps and bounds with his pre-fight appearances on the fake documentary/infomercial "24/7." He calls his appearances "You-Must-Watch TV." And there is no arguing that he is a compelling character. But on one "24/7" before his fight with Victor Ortiz in September, he went on a tirade against his father that went on so long and was so vitriolic that it made your skin crawl. Even Schaefer admitted that one was uncomfortable to watch.
There also continues to be some lack of a sense of reality in the Mayweather camp. Ellerbe, while citing the many causes to which Mayweather has contributed, pointed to one that helped "children of battered and abused mothers."
Isn't that what Mayweather is going to jail for?
Still, it was a calmer, friendlier, more in-control Mayweather who chatted with the media — two newspaper guys and 600 or so people who descended like locusts with cameras, zoom lenses, iPhones, smartphones, dumbphones, Pinkphones, Purplephones and anything else that had a lens and a button to push.
Mayweather mentioned the fans who are turned off by his antics on "24/7."
"Some of the people will never get it," he said. "In the sport of boxing, when you get to this level, it becomes a business. You've got to put [rear ends] in the seats."
Ellerbe said his fighter is "a rock star" and "one of the most despised and most talented athletes in the world."
Schaefer said Mayweather has fans and haters and "they feed off each other."
Mayweather said he is a fighter "who backs up his words."
Schaefer expects the Mayweather-Cotto fight to be the second biggest pay-per-view event since Mayweather-De La Hoya.
In boxing, that's the most important statement of all.