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Column: Mayweather flashes cash to sell fight

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. was talking about his latest baubles, perhaps because even he finds them more interesting than his latest opponent.

There’s the new Bugatti in the garage, a $1.6 million gift from the MGM Grand hotel for selling out his fight Saturday night with Marcos Maidana. And the $400,000 Rolex that Mayweather has been eyeing the last few years, which the hotel bought him the same day it hosted Manny Pacquiao’s last fight.

It’s good to be king, though it comes with some issues. There can be trouble with employees like the one who couldn’t make Mayweather’s coffee right in the days before his last fight and had to be let go. It’s also a full-time job just keeping up with his expanding business empire.

And then there are the cars. He has 88 of them, and sometimes that makes for tough decisions when it comes time to pick one to drive to the gym.

“I go into the garage, look around and say `Do I want to drive you, you, you or you,'” Mayweather said. “Then I go on the other side and I say, `Do I want to drive you, or you?'”

Mayweather can certainly afford the cars, just with the untold millions he made in his last fight against Canelo Alvarez that was boxing’s richest ever. He pocketed $41.5 million even before getting his share of pay-per-view on that fight, and will make a minimum of $32 million to take on Maidana in a welterweight title bout.

He flaunts his wealth because it is how he sells his fights. Though Mayweather is undefeated in 45 fights and chasing perfection in the later years of his boxing career, he is not a knockout puncher or even much of a crowd pleaser. And while he talks grandly about his legacy being the most important thing to him, he refuses to give boxing fans the fight they want with Pacquiao.

His act is a tired one, though Mayweather doesn’t seem to care. He blew off a question Tuesday about Pacquiao, secure in the knowledge that enough people will still pay $64.95 to watch him against Maidana to more than cover his paycheck.

Still, he must be doing something right because he has become so rich that even the idea of buying the Los Angeles Clippers doesn’t seem such a stretch – except for the fact Mayweather loves to make six-figure bets on the NBA, has a checkered past with the law and has been quoted saying things that would make Donald Sterling blush.

“Do we want to buy the Clippers? Yes we do,” Mayweather said, sitting on a couch in a VIP lounge at the MGM Grand. “I’m very, very interested in buying the Clippers.”

Mayweather doesn’t seem nearly as interested in Maidana, a blown-up junior welterweight from Argentina who got the fight largely because he beat Adrien Broner in his last fight. Broner is a friend of Mayweather and has been touted as the kind of fighter who might someday replace him, but his move up from 130 pounds to the lucrative 147-pound division may have come too quick.

Maidana has knockout power, but Mayweather isn’t going down with one punch and it’s hard to hit him with two. Oddsmakers look at it as so much of a mismatch that Mayweather is an 11-1 favorite to remain unbeaten in a remarkable career that has included 22 title fights since 1998.

“If he brings his best maybe he will be the first guy that actually makes me dig in my bag of tricks and pull out my `A’ game,” Mayweather said. “Hopefully he will make me bring out my `A’ game because my whole career all I had to use was a `D’ and `C’ game to beat every guy.”

Maidana appears game enough, but that is never enough when it comes to fighting Mayweather. He’s a master who can confuse even the best fighters, as shown when he dominated Alvarez his last time out in a fight that was supposed to be competitive.

The one fighter who may have the best chance of beating him, though, is the one he can’t dream up enough excuses to avoid. Mayweather has been ducking Pacquiao for the better part of five years.

Mayweather talks about his legacy and that he wants only his name to come up when people talk about the best in boxing. But he says it even as he continues to avoid the one fight that would cement that legacy should he win.

He believes he is the best ever, and he has a record that puts him in the conversation. But maybe the real reason people talk about him isn’t because of what he does in the ring.

Maybe it’s just because he’s better at flashing his cash than anyone in the history of the sport.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg