LAS VEGAS – The bloody nose against Miguel Cotto was enough to convince Floyd Mayweather, Jr. that it was time to mend fences with his father, Floyd, Sr. It was a tough, hard fight – the kind that Floyd, Sr. told his son was not conducive for career longevity.
After years of acrimony, Mayweather welcomed his father back into the training fold, joining his uncle, Roger, to help him prepare for his match against Robert Guerrero this past May. And while Mayweather’s performance was not up to his own exacting standards, his defense was tighter.
The return of Floyd, Sr. to Mayweather’s corner on fight night is a signal that Mayweather won’t be such an inviting target when he steps into the ring against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a 12-round junior middleweight match at the MGM Grand Garden arena on Saturday night. That is bad news for Alvarez, a hard-hitting slugger who would love nothing better than to plant his left hook in Mayweather’s side as much as possible.
The presence of Floyd, Sr. in the corner is more than a security blanket for Mayweather. He will function more like a warning alarm if Mayweather shows any signs of slipping in the defense department.
“It’s definitely a reminder,” Floyd, Sr. said regarding his being in the corner. “It’s why he said, ‘My daddy told me the less (punches) you take in this game the longer your career will last.’ That’s very true. I said that to him years ago. It still stands as the truth today.”
Mayweather said his father did not return to supplant his uncle, who has been his primary trainer since 2000. But with Roger Mayweather suffering the effects of diabetes and not being up for the rigors of day-to-day preparation, changes were necessary. Roger Mayweather will still be seated near the corner on Saturday night, but he will not be on the apron working the corner between rounds. Floyd, Sr. will be the main voice in the corner.
For years they have been known as the feuding Mayweathers. The height of the ill will was captured when an angry Mayweather got into an argument with his father and tossed him out of his Las Vegas gym while the HBO cameras were rolling for an episode of 24-7.
Since spending 90 days in the Clark County jail for domestic abuse last year, Mayweather has worked hard to be a peace maker in the family.
While it seems like an uneasy peace – at the final press conference Roger sat on one side of the KA Theater, while Floyd, Sr., sat on the other side – it is holding, nonetheless. It works for Mayweather, who benefits from Roger’s acumen as an offensive minded coach and Floyd Sr.’s insights as a defensive whiz.
“Everything really has come full circle for Floyd,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Floyd has become a very mature young man. He really wants to take care of his family. He recognizes that both Mayweather, Sr. and Roger are both tremendous trainers. But they never get the recognition or the credit for the work they’ve done with Floyd.”
Though their work with Mayweather has guided him to an undefeated record and earned him the distinction of the highest paid athlete in the world, Roger and Floyd, Sr. have never been recognized as Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Mayweather was recognized as Fighter of the Year in 2007, but the trainer’s award went to Enzo Calzaghe (the father of then-super middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe).
The one thing that Roger and Floyd, Sr. agree on is that Mayweather isn’t in any danger of losing to Alvarez.
“One thing about Floyd is he’s a whiz when it comes to thinking,” Floyd, Sr. said. “Whatever that dude (Alvarez) does he can’t outthink Floyd. If you can’t outthink nobody you can’t get on the other side of the fence. It’s as simple as that.”
The elder Mayweather said he expects Alvarez to be a “flat-footed fighter getting touched with jabs.”
“He (Mayweather) might hurt him two or three times to the body,” Floyd, Sr. said. “This is going to cause him (Alvarez) the problem. The rest will be history.”
Roger Mayweather believes his nephew’s slick defense will carry the night.
“The key for him (Alvarez) is to throw and land big punches,” Roger Mayweather said. “But if he ain’t landing nothing, that makes it better for Floyd. If he ain’t hitting nothing, then down the stretch we’ll see how much wind he really has and we’ll see if he can really fight. You don’t know that until the time comes and you see exactly what he’s doing.”
Neither trainer believes the weight will play much of a factor for Mayweather, a welterweight champion who walks around at 149 pounds and weighed in at 150.5 on Friday afternoon. They point to his success over Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto at 154 pounds. Much was made of Mayweather asking for Alvarez to fight at a 152-pound catchweight, rather than the championship limit of 154 pounds. Mayweather insisted on the advantage of having Alvarez work to shed the extra two pounds and Alvarez agreed so that he could get the fight.
“You don’t have to be that big to be a great fighter,” Roger Mayweather said. “But he knows what to do when the time comes. That’s why he wins. This fight is going to be a fight of that nature. People ain’t going to see how big he is physically, but down the stretch they will see what he does to him (Alvarez). And people will say again, ‘How in the hell did he do it?’”
Photos /Ethan Miller-Getty Images, Jeff Bottari-Golden Boy /Getty Images