ESPN The Magazine

Keown’s eight years covering Mayweather enhances perspective on fighter

ESPN The Magazine’s “Fight for Perfection” issue hits newsstands today, featuring Floyd Mayweather on the cover, with a profile written by senior writer Tim Keown. This third installment of the Keown on Mayweather series in The Mag [following the Money Issue in 2012 and the Fight Issue in 2013], examines Mayweather as he prepares for the pinnacle of his career, and its end.

The feature includes an overall preview of tomorrow night’s bout versus Manny Pacquiao. In addition, there’s an all-access photo story of Pacquiao written by The Mag’s Pablo Torre. Here, Keown provides insight to Front Row on his latest story with Mayweather:

It might not be noticeable from the outside, but Floyd has become far less flashy over the eight years I’ve known him. – Tim Keown

How would you compare this experience with Mayweather to that of your other two cover stories?
The challenge this time around was to come up with something new, a different angle that went beyond the traditional flash-and-cash stories that chronicle the different ways Floyd spends his money. My editor, Raina Kelley, and I came to the same conclusion during one of our many conversations: With this fight, Floyd is preparing for a beginning (of sorts) and the end. It’s the fight that’s dogged him forever, and it comes — he says — in the second-to-last fight of his career. I was given unconditional access to the gym, but my one-on-one interview time with Floyd was limited to one 30-minute session. This allowed me to spend the better part of three weeks watching him train and talking to the people around him to report a story that attempts to capture a defining moment in time for one of the more fascinating and flawed athletes of the last decade.

Any specific or noticeable changes you have seen in Mayweather since you first started covering him?
It might not be noticeable from the outside, but Floyd has become far less flashy over the eight years I’ve known him. He still flaunts his wealth and his possessions, but when it comes to boxing he no longer feels the need to defend himself. He used to spend a good portion of every workout telling everyone just how great he is and what he’s going to do to the next opponent. This time around, he rarely spoke during his workouts and never made a disparaging comment about Pacquiao. Other people on his team are another story. They do plenty of talking and telling him how great he is, so maybe it’s just another task he’s learned to delegate.

What do you think fans would be surprised to know about him?
His conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, told me he struggles to get Floyd to eat enough. He works out for hours a day, starting when he wakes up at 3 p.m. and often finishing with a pool workout or a pickup basketball game at 3 a.m. But Ariza says he has to force him to eat enough to keep his weight at 147. So Floyd has a hummingbird’s metabolism and a small appetite. If only we all had that problem.

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