Team Mayweather still playing family feud
LAS VEGAS – The trainer of the world’s best boxer spent several hours of this week carrying a parcel of cow dung around the MGM Grand and showing its contents to those morbidly fascinated enough to look.
The sad part is, that is far from being the most unusual thing about the comical soap opera that surrounds Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather’s showdown Saturday with Juan Manuel Marquez is billed as the return of the fight game’s finest, pitting his wits and unbeaten record against an elite pound-for-pound Mexican pit bull.
Amid this scene though, is the most bizarre of subplots, a twisted feud along the eternal lines pitting brother against brother.
Mayweather has welcomed his father, Floyd Sr., back into his life and made him part of his team, ending a nine-year saga of disharmony and separation. Roger Mayweather remains, as he has been throughout Floyd Jr.’s career, the lead trainer, a proximity that has the capacity to pit the ultra-competitive brothers against one another.
“Uncle Roger” is never slow to stir the pot of controversy. His “dung package” was designed to poke fun at Marquez, who repulsed television viewers by being filmed drinking his own urine in training camp.
Banter between warring factions pre-fight is nothing new, yet the official line is that all is sweetness and light within Team Mayweather, a supposedly harmonious family circle whose combined efforts will propel the former champ to recreate his past glories and cement his place in history.
However, just 48 hours before fight night it didn’t take much more than some scratching of the surface to unearth some severe glitches in that happy facade, and the reality that some wounds will never heal for Mayweather’s father and uncle.
For all the salacious plot lines that seep from this city of sin, can there be a development as intriguing as a good old family ruckus, set against a backdrop of one of the sports world’s rawest arenas?
Quite simply, the Mayweather family belongs on reality television. For all the garbage spewed out from that vile and modern form of entertainment, all that would be needed for a ratings winner would be Roger, Floyd Sr., an empty room and their rat-a-tat mouths.
Both are indecipherable at times and what you can make out in public press conferences often borders on the nonsensical.
Yet take these men away from that setting and into a quiet corner, and some of the innate genius they possess for this most intoxicating of sports begins to creep through.
As it does, the animosity between them, patched over by the Mayweather hype machine, is laid bare like an open wound.
Each man feels he is the finest trainer in the world, which each will tout without a moment’s hesitation. Likewise, both feel they should take the lion’s share of credit for Floyd Jr.’s rise to super-stardom.
“I have been an innovator and a creator with Floyd,” said Floyd Sr. “That started from birth. I made my son world champion. He has never lost – because of what Daddy taught him. Once somebody show you how it goes, show you the right way, it is in you. You don’t forget.
“Nobody made Floyd any better. That’s a fact. You (pointing to this writer) could have been his trainer. Roger trained my son. He was still there. He was holding the bread.
“But he trains nothing like me. He has his way. We don’t need to talk about who is the best. I am the best.”
There can be little doubt that the technical tools which form the basis of Mayweather’s fighting style were instilled in him by his father throughout his childhood. What Roger Mayweather asserts is that his style was deemed too boring to hold mass-market appeal and needed modification.
He claims that once he took over the training regimen, it put the money into “Money” Mayweather.
“I turned him into a box office attraction,” said Roger Mayweather. “He had tremendous skills anyway, but people thought he was boring to watch. HBO didn’t want him.
“If his Daddy is so good, why isn’t he with him? I am the best, not just now but the best trainer ever.
“Floyd Sr. is my brother, not my mortal enemy, so that is why he is in camp. I won’t stop him. What he does in training, I don’t know. You know more than me. He’s just holding the bag.”
Pride dictates that it is bravado that beats from their chests and vocal cords, even with the contest with Marquez looming ever closer. Given the history, it is not surprising
Roger Mayweather began working with his nephew in 1993 and took him to 15-0 as a professional, while Floyd Sr. was imprisoned on a drug charge. (Roger Mayweather, for his part, was arrested last month and charged with coercion with force and battery in Las Vegas and was released on bail.)
Once Floyd Sr. was released, he resumed training duties until 2000 and took Floyd Jr. to his first world title, before a bitter dispute erupted between father and son over a variety of issues, including the son’s desire for more control and whether a four-fight HBO contract offer should be accepted.
Ugly words were exchanged in the media and the ill feeling deepened over months and years. The pair did not reconcile fully until recently, reaching out to each other through a mediator.
During that long split, Roger Mayweather steered Floyd Jr. to his place as one of boxing’s very best, and his career record of 39-0 speaks for itself.
Floyd Sr. insists his son’s legacy would have been significantly more impressive in historical terms if he had been involved throughout.
“I most definitely think that he would have been greater if I had been there the whole time,” he said. “A lot more things would have been done with him technically.
“Floyd Jr. is a technician and I believe in all things technical. If I am there, then automatically the fight is easier. Everything changes when I am there.”
Those claims, of course, were quickly smacked down when put to Roger Mayweather.
“His Daddy taught him well and he taught him how to train,” he said. “That is down to him and I can never take that away. But that on its own was not enough.
“He needed someone to take him to the next level and beyond and that is my work. Floyd would have been good without me, damn good. But not this good. Not close.”
Mayweather Jr. will make the final decision as to who is in his corner when he steps into the ring Saturday. However, it will almost certainly be Roger Mayweather, a cut man and another assistant. Floyd Sr. is likely to look on from the floor, in street clothes rather than official team gear.
Forget about pay-per-view sales for the fight; they should sell tickets for that decision-making process, as well. Explosive probably isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.
Because that is the real Mayweather way. Madness, friction and a hint of delusion. Between two of the fight game’s sharpest minds, and co-creators of a modern-day great.