Mayweather confused

MONEY TALKS: Floyd Mayweather Jnr on  arrival at OR Tambo International Airport PHOTO: Veli Nhlapo
MONEY TALKS: Floyd Mayweather Jnr on arrival at OR Tambo International Airport PHOTO: Veli Nhlapo

FLOYD "Money" Mayweather Jnr is in South Africa, but the American boxing megastar does not know why.

That was clear from his response to questions during a press conference a few hours after touching down at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking freely at SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee offices and in a relaxed mood, shrugging his shoulders, something he does to avoid punches in the ring, Mayweather said: "I really don't know. I'm just happy to be here. I just hope for the best. This has been one of my dreams to come back to the motherland. It has taken me 36 years, but I am here."

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who is behind Mayweather's visit, said the multiple world champion who has won eight titles across five weight divisions, was in the country to spearhead the "Reawakening the Giant" boxing project - an initiative that was launched during the Sports Indaba last year.

"He is the idol who cuts across all barriers and represents the very best example of overcoming the odds to achieve greatness," Mbalula said. "Boxing is ingrained in sports legacy, but it needs to be nurtured and made strong again. As the best fighter on the planet, Mayweather can shine a light on us and inspire the youth to achieve excellence. The spinoffs of his visit will be felt long after he departs."

Mbalula also announced that a gala dinner will be held at Emperors Palace tonight where selected items, including Mayweather's boxing gown, will be auctioned.

"The proceeds will go towards uplifting the Dube Boys Club, which famously produced the late Jacob 'Baby Jake' Matlala, among other top boxers," said Mbalula, who added that Mayweather will travel to Cape Town tomorrow where he plans to visit Robben Island.

The much-anticipated trip to East London - the mecca of SA boxing - is off Mayweather's programme, though no one could explain why. Mayweather, the highest-paid boxer in the world currently, was also asked how much was he paid for the visit and who actually bankrolled it. He smartly avoided that question, like he has done to remain undefeated after 45 fights in 18 years as a professional boxer.

Asked about the possibility of fighting in SA, Mayweather said he had been getting offers via e-mails.

"I just hope that we will do it one day," he said.