Mayweather KOs 7-footer Wight at WrestleMania XXIV
Posted: Sunday March 30, 2008 11:04PM; Updated: Tuesday April 1, 2008 8:29PM
ORLANDO -- Even in the world of professional wrestling, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is still undefeated.
Mayweather Jr., the undefeated WBC welterweight champion, made his professional wrestling debut at WrestleMania XXIV in front of 74,635 fans at the Citrus Bowl and defeated the Paul "Big Show" Wight, with a brass-knuckled right hook to Wight's jaw.
The 7-foot, 440-pound Wight was knocked down to his knees by three Mayweather steel chair shots (and really, what would a pro wrestling match be without a few chair shots, right?) before the boxer took off his gloves in favor of brass knuckles in the "no-holds-barred match."
While Mayweather, who wore oversized black and white fur shorts, won his much-publicized WWE match, he took more abuse than most expected as Wight slapped Mayweather loudly across the chest, slammed him down to the mat and stepped on his body a couple of times, at one point walking over him in the middle of the ring.
The absurdity of the match, however, was probably best captured early on when Mayweather dangled on Wight's back and brought him down with a chokehold before Wight recovered and took out most of Mayweather's entourage.
Five hours prior to the fight, Mayweather walked down the neon-lit 175 -foot entranceway to the ring alongside WWE Executive Vice President Shane McMahon and his business manager Leonard Ellerbe, going over everything from his entrance to the ebb-and-flow of the match.
"My ultimate goal is to entertain the fans and entertain the people," said Mayweather. "A lot of people on the outside say that wrestling is not this and its not that, but believe me, wrestling is real. They're not just entertainers, they're athletes. There are hard slaps and hard punches."
As McMahon strolled around the ring, doing a Muhammad Ali-like shuffle and then raising his arms in the air, Mayweather laughed and followed suit, raising his arms to the empty stadium after throwing a few jabs as McMahon knelt before him with a headset, talking to the production crew.
"We always have this magical curtain backstage," said McMahon, who has taken a hands-on approach to Mayweather's stint with the WWE, talking to him and Ellerbe on a near daily basis leading up to WrestleMania. "A lot of athletes want to be on the show but you never want to cross the line but we've wanted to do something with Floyd for sometime and he's always wanted to do something with us."
While Mayweather and McMahon talked through Mayweather's match, WWE champion Randy Orton, John Cena and Triple H went through the motions of their three-man match, tumbling around the ring in street clothes before they figured out exactly how they would finish the show. While Orton, Cena and Triple H were supposed to headline the show, Mayweather and Wight were featured on every billboard, commercial and promotional item about the event, which was just fine by them.
"I think he respects what we do and I respect what he does," said Orton. "He's a tough guy. I wouldn't want to fight him. I wouldn't want to box him. I think he's good for the wrestling industry."
Initially Mayweather's wrestling debut was supposed to be a mixed tag-team match with Wight to face Oscar De La Hoya and Rey Mysterio. When De La Hoya turned down the offer and Mysterio got injured, an audible was called and Mayweather and Wight had the stage to themselves.
"When you mention Oscar De Lay Hoya, you're mentioning an ordinary fighter," said Mayweather. "When you mention Floyd Mayweather, you're mentioning an entertainer. A guy who's not scared to go out there and take a chance and take a risk and go out the box, that's what it's about. Certain NFL players and NBA players are labeled as just that, when you look at me, I'm labeled as an entertainer."
Mayweather didn't close the door on returning to wrestling in the near future after establishing himself as a bona-fide villain and extending his unbeaten record into pro wresting.
"This could be another branch to my career; I really don't know what the future holds," said Mayweather. "Before I got involved with the WWE, I thought this stuff was easy but no, it's hard work. There's a lot of hard work that goes into this. I saw The Undertaker walk around with an ice pack on his back and Shawn Michaels walk around with an ice pack on his knees. This stuff is crazy. It's not as easy as you think. Who knows? It's possible I could be here to stay."
Much of the power in the Citrus Bowl went out about an hour before Mayweather's fight, leaving the ring dimly lit and turning off the four large Jumbotrons hanging from the tent over the ring that fans in the upper sections were relying on to see the action. While power was restored just before the fight, most in attendance missed Snoop Dogg, who was the master of ceremonies of the Playboy "BunnyMania" match, clotheslining wrestler Santino Marella before proceeding to make-out with his "girlfriend" Maria Kannelis, who's on the cover of Playboy this month.
Reggie Bush and LenDale White met up with each other before WrestleMania, although they didn't arrive together. Bush came with Kim Kardashian, who was the "hostess" of WrestleMania, while White arrived with Snoop Dogg's entourage. "It's always fun hanging out with Reggie," said White, who played with Bush for three seasons at USC. "He came here with Kim and I came with Snoop but we've been hanging with each other going on six years. I'm glad he's here. This is our first WrestleMania."