16 January 2014
Floyd Mayweather, universally recognised as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, arrived in South Africa on Wednesday. The boxing great will spend a week in the country in a bid to boost boxing in the Rainbow Nation.
Mayweather’s visit came about after an approach from South Africa’s Department of Sport and Recreation. His schedule will include an exhibition in a gym in Soweto, and visits to Bloemfontein and East London. He is also hoping to visit Robben Island to view the late Nelson Mandela’s former jail cell.
On his tour, Mayweather will conduct motivational talks with amateur and professional boxers, interact with local promoters, and engage with the corporate sector to mobilise funds to support South African Boxing.
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday that the boxing legend’s visit had not cost his department a cent.
“There was no expense involved from government’s side, so you can rest assured that not a cent from the tax payers or the department has been used to support this endeavour,” Mbalula said. “We would not have been able to afford Mayweather anyway, because his fee for one fight alone is more than a quarter of the budget for the Department of Sport and Recreation! This is good will on his behalf.”
Interviewed on Radio 702, Mbalula said: “Floyd Mayweather has done exceptionally well for himself and for humanity in terms of the sport of boxing. He is one of the champions of the world at the present moment. He is the Muhammad Ali of our lifetime.”
In recent times, boxing administration in South Africa has been mired in controversy, but Mbalula said he was focused on turning the fortunes of the sport around.
“I am on a roll in terms of reviving boxing, and there’s no better person to partner with. I’m very happy that Floyd has agreed to come here, and I think there are greater things to come out of this for the sport of boxing and the partnerships we are looking forward to building with him.
“He will come inspire us to succeed with the sport that is so loved by our people, but is a sleeping giant in this country. This is part of the reawakening of the giant,” Mbalula said.
Unbeaten over 45 fights
Nicknamed “Pretty Boy” and “Money”, Mayweather is unbeaten in a 45 fight career, which began in late 1996. His record includes 26 knockouts, but he has seldom been challenged even in points victories, thanks to his speed, movement and punching accuracy. He has won eight world titles in five divisions.
Mayweather’s career is littered with impressive victories, including a seventh round knockout of South Africa’s Philip Ndou, who at the time of their bout in 2003 sported a record of 31 fights and 30 wins by knockout.
Mayweather’s other victories have included defeats of Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto.
According to a number of sources, his net worth is in the region of US$172-million (R1.87-billion).
‘Rejuvenating our sport’
Gideon Sam, the president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), said in a statement on Thursday: “A visit from a truly global fight icon, like Floyd Mayweather, is right on the money in terms of rejuvenating our sport and awakening the sleeping boxing giant in South Africa.
“The timing of his visit could not have been better as it slots perfectly into the resolutions of last year’s important Boxing Indaba and the implementation process,” Sam said.
“I have no doubt that those privileged to be in the areas that Mr Mayweather visits will be abuzz with excitement and eager to soak up his experience and tips to promoters, trainers and coaches.”
Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy commented: “We welcome Mayweather to our country, and we are fortunate to have a renowned boxing champion visit our nation and interact with our athletes. We hope the excellence Mayweather has shown in the sport of boxing will encourage and motivate our boxers to aim higher and excel at international level.”