Friday, June 12, 2009 | midnight
Floyd Mayweather Jr. might have been a bit late for his arrival at a special Flag Day celebration at his signature gym in Las Vegas’ Chinatown district Thursday, but he definitely didn’t forget his patriotism.
Boxing’s former pound-for-pound king (by the way, Mayweather Jr. still believes he and not Manny Pacquiao is the holder of that title) was decked out in a white T-shirt, blue athletic shorts and a white and blue baseball cap as he took photos with three members of Nellis Air Force Honor Guard in front of a brightly painted American flag plastered on the outside of his gym.
The red, however, was reserved for a sleeveless T-shirt that Mayweather Jr. donned a little later during a light training workout.
While the undefeated champ wasn’t quite decked out in full Apollo Creed regalia, his words would have made Uncle Sam proud.
“I represented this country in the 1996 Olympic games. When I received a bronze medal, there was nothing like standing up there and holding the American flag,” said Mayweather Jr., whose acrylic American flag sticker on the windows to his gym read: “Mayweather’s America.”
“Flag Day means so much to so many people, it just represents so much. Everybody’s got a flag. Maybe one day I’ll have a Floyd Mayweather flag (covering the gym),” Mayweather joked before turning back to a serious note.
“I’m just proud to be an American. It’s truly a blessing.”
Earlier in the day, both Mayweather and his opponent for his July 18 comeback fight, Juan Manuel Marquez, invited their respective country’s president to attend the affair at the MGM Grand (HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m. Las Vegas time).
"It would be amazing to have President Obama ringside for my fight," said the undefeated Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), who hasn't fought since knocking out Ricky Hatton in December 2007.
Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs) was equally excited to extend the offer to Mexico’s main man, President Felipe Calderon, for the megafight nicknamed “Number One/Numero Uno.”
Mayweather also extended an invitation to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, perhaps a payback for Reid hosting Mayweather in Washington after he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
Nellis Senior Airman Chris Latson said he was proud to take part in the patriotic festivities.
“It’s an honor to come and take a picture with the champ in front of the big American flag,” Latson said of the 16-by-8-foot wrapping that stretched around the façade of Mayweather’s gym.
“From the looks of him, I’d say he’s been training pretty good.”
Mayweather — whose affection for his American roots also prompted him to offer an early July 4th bash for kids in Las Vegas with a barbecue on July 1 — said he indeed is excited to be back working out, and will be completely prepared for an opponent he says he’s not underestimating.
“I think camp has went well so far, I’m running eight and a half miles a day,” said the six-time world champ. “I haven’t done that much boxing, but me and my uncle Roger are working on a lot of different strategies.
“This has been my longest layoff, but I’m going to go out there and be at my best. I’m pretty sure all the American fans are going out there to support me. It’s going to be a great night on July 18.”
Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.