Leonard Ellerbe on possibility Floyd Mayweather fights in UFC: 'He’ll make the best decision for him'

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports

On Monday, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook put up odds on a potential UFC fight that would pit lightweight champion Conor McGregor against boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The Westgate made McGregor -1000 in a mixed martial arts fight against Mayweather, who stopped McGregor in the 10th round of a boxing match in 2017. Mayweather is +650.

While it seems unlikely that the 41-year-old Mayweather, who announced his retirement from boxing with a 50-0 record after his TKO of McGregor last year, would compete in MMA, it seemed equally unlikely at this point last year that he’d box McGregor.

One of the men who would know if Mayweather is serious or just having fun with fans and the media is Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, and he’s not saying. He’s not going to steal Mayweather’s thunder, and he’ll allow Mayweather to make any announcement.

But in a lengthy interview with Yahoo Sports, which covered quite a bit of ground, Ellerbe minced no words when asked if he wanted to see his boss step into the Octagon.

“I would say I wouldn’t want him to do it,” Ellerbe said. “I care about him and I would never want to see anything happen to him. Obviously, there are all kinds of risks associated with doing something like that, but that’s just my opinion, my personal opinion. When you care about people, when you love people, you always want the best for them. But again, that wouldn’t be my decision. That would be a decision solely up to him and he understands all the risks associated with combat sports, and again, he’s been very good at making great decisions. If he has to make a decision, he’ll make the best decision for him.”

Ellerbe said Mayweather hasn’t asked his opinion yet about a potential MMA fight.

Here is what else we discussed in the 30-minute interview posted above:

0:35 — We talked about Jessie Vargas, who fights Adrien Broner on Showtime at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

1:34 — I pointed out how Vargas is constantly switching trainers, and I asked Ellerbe if he thought that was good or bad for him.

3:22 — Ellerbe says that Vargas’ experience with fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley has uniquely prepared him to face a fighter like Broner.

4:40 — I asked Ellerbe about some of Broner’s antics and make the point that I think some of what he does crosses the line. Ellerbe said, “He’s got his hands full” on April 21.

6:15 — Ellerbe discusses the impact that new trainer Kevin Cunningham might have on Broner.

8:00 — Ellerbe said “some of the fighters get led astray because of the way social media is.”

8:44 — Ellerbe calls Mayweather “a risk taker,” and said that helped him become a mainstream star.

9:45 — I mentioned that UFC president Dana White says the Mayweather-McGregor PPV broke the all-time sales mark. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza says it wound up just short of the 2015 bout between Mayweather and Pacquiao. I ask Ellerbe what he knows about that.

10:55 — We discuss the possibility of Mayweather fighting in the UFC.

15:00 — I asked Ellerbe how to ensure that boxing continues to grow and doesn’t stagnate.
At 17:00, Ellerbe points out some of the successes boxing has had on television.

19:20 — During a discussion on televised boxing, Ellerbe says, “We have some surprises.”

19:50 — Ellerbe promises a “major announcement” on a fight and promises to give the scoop to Yahoo Sports (so stay tuned!).

21:05 — The ups and downs in Gervonta Davis’ young career so far. “There is no doubt in my mind, if this young man listens, in a couple of years he’s going to be the biggest star in the entire sport. What he has is the ‘IT’ factor.”

23:35 — A discussion on race in boxing.

28:50 — Ellerbe said boxing had a phenomenal 2017.

Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe and Floyd Mayweather Jr. talk during a news conference at the KA Theatre at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on Aug. 23, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe and Floyd Mayweather Jr. talk during a news conference at the KA Theatre at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on Aug. 23, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)

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