The Final Four: I've watched it on TV all my life, but being there for real was a new experience and a whole lot of fun. I figured it would be a nice break for me and The Money Team from training for my May 4 fight against Robert Guerrero (quick plug: at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and live on Showtime pay-per-view). A dozen of us jumped on a private jet early Saturday in Vegas and landed in Atlanta at 3:00 in the afternoon. If you watched my documentary, which aired last week on Showtime, you know that for various cultural reasons (O.K., the clubs), the ATL is one of my favorite cities.
The trip was business as well as pleasure. I was interviewed on CBS between the two semifinal games as part of my new [$200 million] contract with Showtime and the network. That interview happened live on the floor of the Dome, with people yelling, "Money! Money!" in the background. But I also enjoyed being there as a basketball fan. I play as often as I can when I'm not training for a fight. And ask anybody who's played with me: I got game. Maybe if I hadn't become a boxer....
We got to the arena during the first half of the Louisville--Wichita State game. Louisville was impressive coming from behind to win. That's something that's tough to do in any sport. (Though I wouldn't know.) Then we watched Syracuse play Michigan. Although I didn't have the Wolverines going to the Final Four in my bracket, I decided I would cheer for them. After all, I was born and raised in Grand Rapids. And, yes, everybody knows I like to bet on sports, but this time I laid off and just got into it for the love of the game.
The atmosphere impressed me the most. Walking the corridors of the Georgia Dome is always a thrill—I'd been there for a Hawks game—but being there surrounded by 75,000 passionate college basketball fans was crazy. I loved seeing the students screaming for their schools. Fans from Wichita State, and then Michigan, were sitting near me, and I was amazed how much noise those kids made. I also loved how everyone was dressed in their schools' gear and colors. We don't have that in boxing. But, hey, I have a whole line of TMT hats and T-shirts people can buy on the internet. Maybe I'll see more people wearing my gear on May 4.
The team I picked to win it all [Indiana] wasn't even in the building on Saturday. But I had a blast just being there. Unfortunately, I had to leave on Sunday. I had to get back to work. But I knew that after a few hours in the gym I'd be watching Michigan and Louisville slugging it out.