Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009 | 6:31 p.m.
Mayweather v. Marquez
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Floyd Mayweather Jr. is rapidly approaching his official return to boxing this Saturday to face Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
On Wednesday, Mayweather Jr. took another step closer by addressing media members for the final time at the pre-fight press conference.
For his final official statements from the microphone, he thanked his sponsors and was surprisingly respectful of his opponent.
“It’s been a tremendous camp, there’s been a lot of hard work and dedication,” Mayweather Jr. said. “In the sport of boxing, if you want to go down as a legend you have to face the best in your era. At this particular time, Marquez is one of the best fighters in my era.
“He’s a hell of a fighter. Counter-puncher. Good boxer. But I’ve been around the sport and faced many styles. I’ll adjust and adapt when I get in that ring Saturday night.”
Marquez was also brief and thanked his native country of Mexico for its support.
“I don’t like talking outside of the ring, I just want to say three things,” he said. “One: I prepared myself very hard, physically and mentally. Two: I want to thank all the Mexican people for their support in me. Three: I want to dedicate this fight to all the Mexican people around the world.”
While the press conference went off mostly with no harsh words, there were a few exceptions.
Some people noticed that former boxer and president of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya, was taking pictures from his seat on-stage.
During his time at the microphone, he explained why.
“People are wondering why I’m taking pictures,” De La Hoya said. “I want to capture the moment when Juan Manuel Marquez dethrones the king…”
To which Mayweather Jr. interrupted from his seat, “You couldn’t do it.”
De La Hoya, who lost a split decision to Mayweather Jr. in 2007 turned to him and said, “No, I couldn’t do it. But I’ll tell you one thing — Marquez is ready. I want to freeze this moment of history in the making.”
Roger Mayweather, Mayweather Jr.’s uncle and trainer, also didn’t raise his hand before interrupting Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe after Ellerbe said, “There are a number of great trainers in the sport…”
“Yeah? Great?” Roger said. “I know you’re talking about me. What you need to say is, there are other trainers out there. Listen, here’s how boxing goes. Don’t steal my mic, I’m gonna spread something to you real quick.
“Great is Michael Jordan. Great is Floyd Mayweather. That’s what great is. The dudes behind me, I don’t worry about the dudes behind me because I know they don’t know (expletive) anyway. If they knew what I knew, they’d be ahead of me. So I don’t know about great, don’t give them credit for being great.”
For the most part however, both fighters’ camps showed respect for one another.
Mayweather Jr. even raised from his seat to shake hands with Marquez’s head trainer, Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain, after Beristain said he admired the fighter and his family.
“There’s not too many fighters that I’ve had the privilege to face like Floyd Mayweather,” Beristain said through an interpreter. “I want to give the highest esteem to his team. They’ve got a great athlete and a very good fighter. His uncle and father are great trainers that I admire, and I admire him very much.”
Beristain, who also trained De La Hoya for his fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2008, went on to say that despite his enormous respect for Mayweather Jr., he feels he can be beat.
“Juan Manuel Marquez is a great athlete in his own right, with a great technique and work ethic,” he said. “We’re worked so hard for this fight and we have the belief we have a chance to win.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or email@example.com.