And when he emerged, the pound-for-pound king wanted to warm the chilly relationship he had with his father and former trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., who is ailing from lung disease sarcoidosis.
“I want to grow closer to my family, do things a lot different now. My dad is sick,” said Mayweather Jr. “If I never made a bond with my father and he’s sick and something harsh happened… because anything can happen. He’s he’s older, he’s lost a lot of weight from being sick. It would hurt me not speaking to him.”
It was right around Feb. 14 — Valentines Day — that Mayweather Jr. (43-0, 26 knockouts) announced Mayweather Sr. would be working his corner for Saturday’s Showtime Pay Per View-televised WBC welterweight title defense against Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The presence of Floyd Mayweather Sr. in Mayweather Jr.’s corner is the first since a unanimous decision over Gregorio Vargas in March of 2000, and has him supplanting his brother and Mayweather Jr.’s uncle, Roger Mayweather, as the lead trainer.
“My dad is the main trainer and Roger still works me day in and day out,” said Mayweather Jr. “But on fight night, my dad will be working my corner.”
Floyd Sr. was in the Floyd Jr.’s corner when he won his first world title with an eighth-round knockout of Genaro Hernandez in October of 1998. The father was reunited with his son earlier that year, after being convicted of illegal drug trafficking in 1993 and serving a stint in jail.
The turbulent relationship between the Mayweathers has been widely reported, having reached perhaps its crescendo in August of 2011 during Mayweather Jr.’s preparation for his fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz the following month. Their heated argument during a training session was detailed on HBO Sports’ 24/7 series, an episode which ended with the unbeaten son and his trainer father ripping each other with harsh, obscenity-laced language, re-igniting a feud that had existed for years but had been seen as resolved until then.
The son once booted the father from his training facility, evicted him from a home that he owned and repossessed a car he was driving.
They reportedly didn’t have a cordial conversation for nearly seven years, a time during which Floyd Sr. once even threatened to train Oscar De La Hoya to defeat his son, later refusing to do so.
“It would hurt me very, very bad for him not to have a relationship with his grandchildren. That’s very, very important to me,” said Mayweather Jr.
“Me, I had to be the bigger person and say ‘You need to have a great relationship with your grandchildren, and what do me and you have to argue about? We both are in the sport to be the best.”
At one point, their frosty relationship seemed to have thawed, most notably leading up to Floyd Jr.’s unanimous, 12-round decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in September of 2009.
That’s when, after having been long exiled from his son’s camp by the fighter himself, Floyd Sr. was allowed to be part of Floyd Jr.’s preparation for Marquez.
Floyd Sr. also was there in support of Floyd Jr. when his son unanimously decisioned Shane Mosley in May of 2010, even saying that he had “no problem” with his younger brother, Roger Mayweather, training his son.
But that reunion seemed to evaporate in the smoldering rancor that erupted before HBO’s cameras inside Mayweather Jr.’s packed gym in Las Vegas, when the son told his father that the only trainer who mattered was uncle Roger, and that Floyd Sr. had nothing to do with his success.
When he faces Guerrero, Mayweather will have been out of the ring for nearly a year to the day since vanquishing Miguel Cotto by unanimous decision on May 5 of last year, dethroning him as WBA junior middleweight beltholder.
Already a titleholder in five divisions, Mayweather earned his eighth belt in victory over Cotto.
On Saturday night, Mayweather Jr. will look to make victory more of a family affair than perhaps it has ever been, even as Roger Mayweather is struggling with diabetes.
“Roger’s vision is getting bad and I can’t afford anyone’s bad vision in a big fight like this…My dad, of course, he’s a boxing wizard, and Roger’s a boxing wizard, so you can’t go wrong with either guy. My dad is the main trainer and, of course, it’s not like I fired anyone,” said Mayweather Jr.
“It’s just that my dad’s a little sick, but he’s a lot healthier than Roger is. Roger’s health is not at its best right now and my main focus is I want a guy that’s in my corner that’s sharp and healthy. But he still works day in and day out with me every day as far as and keeping me sharp…I’m happy to be back working with my father, and I’m working with my father and Roger.”
Photo by Esther Lin, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org