Chuck Mindenhall is in Las Vegas this week covering the Mayweather-McGregor fight for The Ringer. On Wednesday, he likened the match to “the Super Bowl on mushrooms.” On Thursday, he was among the handful of writers hoping to catch an early-morning glimpse of Mayweather in the boxer’s Vegas strip club.
In all the prefight chatter surrounding the principals in this weekend’s extravagant boxing event, one thing has been left unsaid — namely, that Floyd Mayweather is a goddamn vampire. A few days back Mayweather tweeted that he would be hanging out at his new strip joint, Girl Collection, all week long, right on through his bout with Conor McGregor. Some laughed this off, but those people seem to underestimate the highest-paid man of the prize ring’s appetite for the nightlife.
Just like he said he would, Floyd was indeed at his own club on Wednesday night. Or rather, he was there early Thursday morning, some 60 odd hours before he’s to enter the boxing ring for a nine-digit payday. He showed up at nearly 3 a.m. with his TMT entourage in tow. I know this because I had the unoriginal idea of seeking him out, as did Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel (who wrote a column about it), MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani (who got an interview with him at some point just past 4 a.m.), and a few other reporters there just for the ambiance. Unlike those braver souls who documented his appearance, I gave up on him by 1:30 a.m. after sitting around for three hours in his private room upstairs, which overlooks the floor. Keeping me company were eight bottles of Louis XIII, neatly displayed behind the bar under a ceiling canopy of twinkling stars. No other alcohol was visible. The bathroom upstairs has a shower in it.
With nothing better to do, I asked a manager at Girl Collection, who has worked with Mayweather for 21 years, how much a bottle would set back a VIP customer fortunate enough to find himself in the circumstance — such as his boy 50 Cent, or Justin Bieber. “Ten,” he said, leaving the thousand out as if not even the three zeroes could get past the bouncer. “Sometimes Floyd brings them out on very special occasions.”
Occasions like the club’s opening in May, when Mayweather unbound a few bricks of cash and made it rain on the patrons below who’d happily paid the $50 cover charge and found no red flags in paying $24 for a glass of Hennessey. Or, as everyone in the club was anticipating, an occasion like this coming Saturday after Mayweather runs his record to perfect 50-0 upon beating Conor McGregor, where the door charge will sky rocket to $300 for the after-party. Those are the Louis XIII nights.
Several of the security staff told me that Mayweather had assembled his (lowercase) girl collection from various sectors of the U.S., hand-picking them himself. If there was shame about in any of this given Floyd’s past problems it couldn’t be detected.
The former heavyweight Tony Tucker, one of the few fighters to take Mike Tyson the distance when Tyson was savagely destroying everybody in the late-’80s, was seated down on the floor. Tucker’s an old family friend of the Mayweathers, good buddies of his uncle Roger. Lots of celebrities come in the off chance they can meet Floyd. With Ice Cube’s Big3 Tournament in Las Vegas at the same time as Mayweather-McGregor, a few of the NBA’s former greats have been dropping in, too.
Every so often there would be mumblings that Floyd was on his way. I gathered that Mayweather leaves his considerable number of lieutenants in a constant state of anticipation. Time just sort of disappears inside Floyd’s joint, which plays club music on a loop (you’ll never hear Def Leppard at the Girl Collection). “He usually shows up between one and three,” one of the bouncers said, as if that window as a time frame doubles as insight into Mayweather’s behavior. “If he’s in Vegas, he always comes in.”
Turns out it was closer to three. In the interview that he gave Helwani from that same private room upstairs, Mayweather said that he typically goes to bed around 5 a.m. and gets up around 1 p.m. He flashed a smile — no fangs, but he rolls like vampire with a million-dollar watch, even on fight week.
Back in the day, Sugar Ray Robinson had his place in Harlem. Joe Louis enjoyed a drink from time to time at Toots Shor’s old place. Jack Dempsey had his namesake bar, too. Mayweather — a 21st-century man on the verge of a historic fight that will pay him north of the NFL’s salary cap for 2017 — is right at home at his own lushing crib in the wee hours of the morning on fight week.
Say what you want, but he’s a man of his word. Though he himself doesn’t drink, he’s partying right on through fight week. It made me wonder what the 3-to-1 underdog Conor McGregor was up to.
Earlier in the day, at the vast media compound, you were as likely to run across people with cauliflower ear as you were Carrot Top, or Skip Bayless — or sky-scraping basketball players that could be seen across the room. Kenyon Martin, who is captaining the Trilogy team in the Big3 tournament going on at the MGM Grand, was one of those who was making the rounds on Radio Row. And if anybody captured the complex mercenary vibe that’s been going on, K-Mart did it.
“I think it’s a clown show,” he told me. “I’m a big fan of boxing. Mayweather does an excellent job of promoting himself and the sport. You’ve got to respect what he’s done for the sport of boxing. I think Mayweather will win.”
Then he smiled that ornery K-Mart smile, the one he would do sometimes with the Nuggets when he would slam home a put back.
“But I’m going to bet with McGregor, though,” he said. “Just in case he gets lucky. I don’t think he’s going to win, but just in case he gets lucky. I don’t want to bet $150 and win $150. I want to put $2,000 or $2,500 up, and if Conor knocks him out? Shiiit.”
As for Carrot Top, he’s taking Mayweather.