Floyd Mayweather can crow all he likes about impending retirement but there are few inside the sport who seriously believe his bout against Andre Berto in Las Vegas on Saturday will be his last.
Mayweather has been adamant he will not lace on the gloves again after facing Berto, despite his likely win bringing him level with Rocky Marciano’s fabled, unbeaten 49-fight unbeaten record.
The lure of making it to an historic half-century will surely prove too much for the 38-year-old, especially when he has a choice of ready-made, money-generating opponents – including a certain Amir Khan.
Cynics might dare suggest Mayweather’s decision to make Berto his ’retirement’ fight smacks more of a desperate need to justify a contest against an opponent who has lost three of his last six fights.
One can argue that such is Mayweather’s talent he has made the excellent – Manny Pacquiao, Saul Alvarez – look ordinary, but where does that leave the distinctly ordinary Berto?
“Number 49 is my last fight,” insisted Mayweather this week. “No one is in my shoes. My health is more important. If you stick around anything too long, anything can happen.
“I’m not really worried about losing, but I want to have a sharp mind. You can make a lot of money, but you still want to be able to walk, talk and have a sharp mind.”
Victory over Berto – who won his last two fights over Josesito Lopez and Steve Chambers, but lost the two before that to Jesus Soto Karass and Robert Guerrero – is unlikely to do much to enhance Mayweather’s legacy.
He has, as he rightly says, already cemented his place as one of the greatest boxers of all time, though exactly where he belongs on a list including the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and Marciano will inevitably remain open to question.
Not so in Mayweather’s mind.
He said: “If (Manny Pacquiao) is an all-time great, then what does that make me? If they’re saying he’s the fighter of the century, what does that make me?
“When they do rate me and when my fight is over, the only thing I can do is believe in myself and believe in my skills. I’m going to be the best ever till the day I die.”
Nevertheless, consummate professional that he is, Mayweather insists he will not be taking anything for granted against Berto, with anything but a convincing win sure to erode that legacy in one fell swoop.
“I’m prepared mentally and physically and I’m in top shape,” added Mayweather. “I’m pretty sure he’s in top shape and ready, so I’m not going to overlook him.
“As I get older I’m working harder. In this camp I sparred a lot more, I pushed myself a lot more. I’ve worked harder for this fight than I did for the Pacquiao fight.”
The fight between Mayweather and Berto is being shown as a pay-per-view event on Boxnation on Sunday morning, with coverage starting at 1am Irish time.