Trainers spark verbal sparring
Published 01/05/2015 | 02:30
Blood has always run thicker than water for the Mayweather clan, and it was Floyd Snr who last night assumed the all-important role of Junior's trash-talker-in-chief.
All week, the son has been scrupulously deferential towards Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao's trainer, claiming he had no wish to antagonise a man in the throes of Parkinson's disease. "Hi, Mr Roach," he says, cordially, each time they pass in the corridors of the MGM Grand.
But the father, sneering and disdainful, decided here to toss any notion of decorum out of the nearest window, describing his opposing sideman as a "joke with no hope".
Ahead of a fight widely touted as a battle of "good versus evil", the elder Mayweather provided the requisite dose of villainy. He dripped contempt from the dais. Even one journalist, who dared to pose a question about Pacquiao that he did not much care for, was publicly derided as "crazy, dumb and stupid".
As ever, the incorrigible Floyd Snr, regarding anybody outside the Mayweather camp with a misanthropic loathing, was not bothered about who he alienated.
Even his own son, horrified by his behaviour, has spent long stretches of his life estranged from him. Those who have studied the family dynamics closely believe that Floyd Jnr has never fully forgiven his father for an incident during his childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when he was held up as a human shield in a gunfight.
The dad had put his arms around the throat of Tony Sinclair, the brother of Mayweather Jnr's mother, who in his mind had overstayed his welcome at their home. Sinclair strode outside to fetch a rifle, kicked the front door down, and aimed the barrel at Floyd Snr's face as he held his infant son.
"If you're going to kill me, you're going to kill the baby, too," the father screamed, according to his own account. "I didn't want to die. It wasn't about putting the baby in the line of fire. I knew he wouldn't shoot the baby. So he took the gun off my face, lowered it to my leg and 'Bam'."
As a consequence of the terrible flesh wound, Floyd Snr, who fought and lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978, still shuffles around with a pronounced limp.
But the damage to his connection with his son was even more grievous.
To say that the relationship between these two is volatile is like saying that Floyd Jnr is not averse to admiring his reflection in the mirror. They did not speak for years, and the tensions grew worse when the father was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for drug trafficking.
It is the global attention on the confrontation with Pacquiao, and the prospect of Mayweather's retirement after two more fights, which has helped to mollify them. "He might've felt it was my fault, I might've felt it was his," Floyd Snr reflects. "He's still my son."
Indeed, such is the restoration of trust that he has been allowed to take a leading coaching role in five of Mayweather's last fights, after the son decided he needed a change of direction in light of some heavy punishment from Miguel Cotto in 2012.
While Mayweather Snr enhances the entertainment quotient of fight week, he does little for the younger Floyd's image with his graceless posturing.
No sooner, for instance, had Roach announced last night that "the time for trash-talking" was over than the attention-seeking dad started taunting his adversary as "The Roach". Mocking the challenge of Pacquiao without mercy, he said: "I'll be honest, I don't think it's going to be much of a fight."
Did this mean he believed it would be short, in Mayweather's favour?
Floyd Jnr has talked incessantly this week about the support of 'The Money Team', his retinue of handlers, and he has defined each member's role with great precision. Al Haymon, his secretive business associate, is the man who negotiated his £130m fight fee.
Leonard Ellerbe, head of Mayweather Promotions, is the one stoking the fanfare. His four man-mountain security guards, who go by nicknames from 'Jethro' to 'Big Church', provide his protective shield amid the Vegas mayhem. One of them, Adam Plant - who stands 6ft 7in and weights 27st - explains: "Protect the quarterback at all times. Make sure he ain't touched."
But it is Floyd Snr who is relied upon to ratchet up the psychological warfare. True to form, he did exactly that. (© Daily Telegraph, London)