Floyd Mayweather’s Hideout
By HANNAH KARP
Confused, exhausted and estranged from his father, Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced his retirement from professional boxing last summer and retreated into seclusion.
The undefeated fighter packed up his six world-championship belts and 600 pairs of shoes and moved into a home he had begun secretly building after six months earlier. Though he’s in a Las Vegas gated community and is friendly with some neighbors, Mr. Mayweather kept the address a secret from colleagues, most of his friends and even some family members. Roger Mayweather, the fighter’s uncle and trainer, was driven over to the home for the first time last month and says he couldn’t find the place if he tried.
Mr. Mayweather Jr.’s hideout is a 22,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, seven-bath custom-built home on a golf course created with most every luxury imaginable—plus a few more. Ceilings over 24 feet high drip with crystal chandeliers and walls are covered in materials like red silk and textured glass. The movie theater is two-stories high and touch-screen video games are affixed to the kitchen counter.
“I needed a chance to get to know myself,” said Mr. Mayweather, 32, sitting last week in his home’s 600-square-foot walk-in closet.
After a year of reflection, Mr. Mayweather said he’s ready to return to the ring. His comeback fight against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez was originally slated for Saturday, but was rescheduled for September after Mr. Mayweather injured a rib. He said he’s glad for the extra time with his kids during summer vacation.
Soft spoken, Mr. Mayweather is fastidious, asking visitors to remove their shoes at the door and constantly straightening furniture and fluffing pillows. Last week he watched his four kids scramble around the house sucking on blue popsicles, shooting pool and practicing dance moves. They rode the elevator, played videogames and watched sitcoms in the theater while snacking from tall jars of jelly beans, pretzels and Hot Tamales.
“I never saw my daddy sit at the house all day with me,” said Mr. Mayweather. “I’m trying to break the cycle.”
Born and raised in a tough neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Mich., Mr. Mayweather grew up sharing a bedroom with six siblings and said he often went for days without electricity. But “I had bigger and better plans,” he said. He was taken under his uncle’s wing when his father was imprisoned on drug-trafficking charges in 1994.
As his career took off, Mr. Mayweather cultivated a larger-than-life public persona, throwing money around and traveling with a large entourage. In his last year of fighting Mr. Mayweather earned $50 million, making him the second-highest earning athlete in 2007 behind Tiger Woods.
Despite his success Mr. Mayweather said he felt increasingly overwhelmed. He said that he and his father had grown so far apart that last year Mr. Mayweather Sr., now a well-respected trainer, was planning to train his son’s opponent Oscar de la Hoya. Meanwhile Mr. Mayweather’s need for a retreat from the spotlight was growing: his Las Vegas home was filled with friends stopping by and hanging out, and his desire for privacy intensified after $7 million worth of jewelry was stolen from his home last year.
At his new home over the past year Mr. Mayweather said he’s learned more about who he is outside the ring (not as patient or calm as he is inside it) and what he wants out of life: to see his children graduate and to give back more to communities like the one he grew up in. (He started giving out sandwiches in downtown Las Vegas and is planning to build a homeless shelter there.)
Friends say Mr. Mayweather’s home reflects a newfound maturity. The undisclosed location has kept hangers-on away and the abundance of flowers, ferns and trees throughout the house evoke a sense of peace.
The hidden 50-square-foot kitchen pantry stores granola and Nutri-Grain bars, reflecting Mr. Mayweather’s recent vow to start eating healthier foods, like turkey bacon. Another sign of restraint: He decided against building a basketball court because he can play at a neighbor’s instead. “Who’s gonna tell me no? I’m a likable guy,” he joked.
The Home Front
Private Properties: Martial-Arts Circuit Mogul Buys Estate Relative Values: Fresh Foraging But the boxer needs to keep generating big bucks to support his lifestyle. He gambles on sports, blackjack and craps, enjoys being able to eat “five-star meals 24 hours a day” and loves nice clothes, travel, cars (including two Rolls Royces, a Maybach and a $20,000 golf cart). “We all have to pay the IRS,” he said.
His home’s wine cellar is loaded with Moët & Chandon. Three Swarovski crystal globes dangle over the hardwood staircase, and a yellow Lamborghini is parked outside. Though he wasn’t looking for brand names, “somehow he just ended up picking out the most expensive things,” says his real-estate agent, Tanasha Pettigrew, who helped him decorate.
Mr. Mayweather declined to say how much he spent building the home, but brokers estimate its value at about $9 million. Comparable custom homes for sale in the area include one for $7.5 million and another for $5 million; home prices in the immediate area have fallen more than 40% over the past year.
Two months ago Mr. Mayweather and his father agreed to talk for the first time in nine years. Since then, Mr. Mayweather Sr., who also lives in Las Vegas, has been visiting the house several times a week, challenging his son to push-up and pull-up contests.
“I always planned on making my son a champion anyway,” says Mr. Mayweather Sr., who adds he can’t get over his son’s master bedroom, with its wet bar, fireplace, espresso machine and balcony with a remote-control misting system. “But I never thought he’d be living in a place like this.”
Write to Hannah Karp at Hannah.Karp@wsj.com