One might assume that this guy would be talkin' smack, acting ready to take on the world — including Dancing with the Stars' three tough judges and his new partner, the fiery Karina Smirnoff. "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr. is, after all, a six-time undefeated world-champion boxer in multiple weight divisions. So you might think his MO would be to bully and intimidate. You'd be wrong.
"The first thing he did, once he saw Karina, was put his hands behind his back like somebody had handcuffed him," says his manager, Leonard Ellerbe. "And then he said, ‘I'm turning myself in.' So she started laughing. And he said, ‘I'm all yours. You're the best at what you do and I'm the best at what I do. But you're the boss and I'm the student.'"
"In boxing," says Mayweather, "I'm a loudmouth. In Dancing with the Stars, I can't be a loudmouth. The only thing I can do is go out there and work hard."
It may also be a surprise that Mayweather, 30, signed on for the show at all — he's never really watched it before. "I maybe glanced at it and kept moving," he says. And he certainly doesn't need any more celebrity. "I'm not worried about the fame," he says. "This isn't about getting people to know who I am." Oh, and there's also the fact that he's got a major fight to get ready for on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas against England's Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton. "He's undefeated," says Mayweather, "just like I am."
"Dancing won't make him a better boxer," says Ellerbe, "because he's already the best boxer in the world." So why dance at all? "It's going to show my versatility," says Mayweather. Says Ellerbe, "When we first talked to him about the show, his exact words were: ‘Get me on the show! I wanna do that!'" But why, exactly? "Because I'm up for a new challenge," says Mayweather.
He'd better be. In addition to his three daily workout sessions for boxing — running, boxing and weight-training — there will be several more hours on the dance floor. "This is going to push me to the limit," he acknowledges.
He admits that he's already feeling the burn. "My feet hurt a little bit," he says. This from a boxer whose very livelihood depends on his footwork. "I'm naturally gifted on my toes," he says — then adds, "In the ring."
So what will happen if the judges don't love his hip action? "They can't be tougher than my Uncle Roger, and my team has been on me for so many years," says Mayweather.
But Smirnoff has apparently found the carrot to offer with the stick. "She knows I like to eat gummy bears," says Mayweather, a father of four who lives with his girlfriend, Josie Harris. "So if I'm not working hard, Karina will say, ‘No gummy bears today.' And I want to eat gummy bears. So I went home and practiced and came back. And she said I was getting better."
He practiced on his own? "Yes," says Mayweather. "I'm good with dancing to R&B and hip-hop. But ballroom dancing would be tough for Michael Jackson."
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