LAS VEGAS — When Floyd Mayweather Jr. defends his WBC welterweight belt against Robert Guerrero on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather will be taking direction from his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., and Guerrero, from father and trainer Ruben Guerrero.
Sitting at ringside will be Angel Garcia, who trains his son — RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia. And during the bout’s more treacherous moments, Angel Garcia will be watching to see which of the fathers can successfully balance the strong, paternal instinct to protect his offspring with that of executing the necessary game plan for victory.
“The way that I look at it is you’re fighting my son. You’re trying to kill him. People can end up dying in there. So I look at it as ‘Why should I love you, when you’re ready to kill my son in the ring.’ So that’s why I do what I do,” said Angel Garcia.
“But if I was to be in that position, and when I watch that fight, I’ll watch for who can stay focused, and who can keep their son focused right along with them. If you lose control, then your son is going to lose confidence and he will lose control. They have to be able to work together, mentally, the both of them. You have to become that trainer.”
Angel Garcia was in that position following the second round of a fight with two-division titlewinner Amir Khan in July of last year. As Danny Garcia sat on his stool, blood pouring from a deep cut over his right eye, his dad told him why he was taking a beating and what he needed to do about it without mincing words.
“Listen, Danny, you’ve got to be more crispy, man. Danny, listen, you’re being too wide, man. Listen to me. Come on. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe, Danny. Look, he’s picking you apart. You can’t do that, man,” said Angel Garcia, whose son had been out-landed by Khan, 30-12, in the second round, with 23 of Khan’s punches being power shots.
“You’ve got to step around, man, and let your hands go a little bit. Left uppercut, and then go to the left when he’s leaning in to the right. Just go to your left, left uppercut. Watch him. Instead of just being out of control, watch him. Okay? Don’t frustrate yourself with the blood or nothing. Stay calm, man. Come on, let’s work, man. Know what I mean? Let’s work, man, stay focused. Stay focused, man, and don’t get caught.”
A more determined Garcia placed his punches in the next round, dropping Khan 30 seconds before it ended. Khan rose, but was floored twice more in the fourth and final round, which ended when referee Kenny Bayless had seen enough.
“Mentally, physically and spiritually, you have to be able to read your son like a book,” said Angel Garcia. “You have to be able to think before him. Mayweather and Guerrero, it’s going to be a good fight, but that’s going to be a big part of it.”
Angel Garcia has been known for pre-fight behavior that borders on maniacal when attempting to incite Danny Garcia’s rivals, as evidenced by the buildup for Garcia’s unanimous decision over Zab Judah in his most recent fight last month.
There has been plenty of animosity, meanwhile, between Mayweather Sr. and Ruben Guerrero, owing to an ongoing, smack-talking feud that has endured throughout the promotion.
It came to a head during Wednesday’s final press conference at the MGM Grand, when Ruben Guerrero called Mayweather Jr. “a woman beater,” adding, “He must have learned that from his dad,” after which he and Mayweather Sr. engaged in an obscenity-laced verbal exchange.
“When I talk, I talk about boxing, like, what you did in your career. That’s what I talk about. I haven’t seen what he did [on video,],” said Angel Garcia.
“But that don’t have nothing to do with boxing. That’s his personal life. I’m not going to talk about what you did in your love life. That’s his personal life. That don’t mean nothing.”
Ruben Guerrero was referring to Mayweather’s jail time for charges of misdemeanor battery domestic violence and two counts of harassment against Josie Harris, the mother of two of Mayweather Jr.’s children.
“He was already sentenced, and he did his time. That’s a big difference. That’s double-jeopardy,” said Angel Garcia. “I won’t ever do nothing like that. I won’t bring that up, because that don’t mean nothing. That ain’t got nothing to do with boxing.”
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.
Floyd Sr. was in 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.
Meanwhile, Ruben Guerrero’s kid is in pursuit of his 16th straight victory and his 10th knockout during that run against Mayweather.
A former two-time featherweight titleholder who also held a major belt at 130 pounds and two interim crowns at lightweight, Guerrero last suffered defeat by a split-decision to Gamaliel Diaz in December 2005, but won their rematch with a sixth-round knockout in June 2006.
In addition, Guerrero scored two early knockdowns during November’s unanimous decision over former two-time welterweight beltholder Andre Berto in only his second fight as a welterweight. Guerrero debuted at 147 pounds — jumping from the 135-pound class — with a similar decision over previously unbeaten Selcuk Aydin last July.
Although it remains to be seen whether or not the Mayweather’s reunion truly has ended a once turbulent relationship, Angel Garcia seems to think that theirs is more battle-tested in high-profile situations than that of the Guerreros.
“They’ve [Mayweathers] been there before, but I don’t know if they’ve [Guerreros] been in a fight like this,” said Angel Garcia. “This is the big lights. It’s another level. You have to know how to get there, and you’ve got to know how to take the fighter there, also.”
Danny Garcia agrees.
“I don’t think that it [relationship] has to be special, but it’s up to the fighter, too, most of the time,” said Danny Garcia. “You’ve just got to understand each other. When it’s boxing, he’s my coach, but when it’s the regular day, he’s my dad. You have got to be able to separate that.”
Photo by Esther Lin, Showtime
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org