Friday 23 March 2018

Floyd Mayweather Snr: My son should retire once he has 'schooled' Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather Snr was a talented boxer himself
Floyd Mayweather Snr was a talented boxer himself

Gareth A Davies

Floyd Mayweather Snr and Roger Mayweather, father and uncle respectively of the world’s most enigmatic and gifted boxer, are holding court at the Mayweather Boxing Club off Valley View, in a strip mall on the edge of Chinatown.

This is the Las Vegas office of the Mayweather clan. The rectangular building is a sweat shop. A bell rings every three minutes to signal another round, fighters come and go, some having brought their tiny children with them in pushchairs, as their fathers dance and hit the bags.

This was the atmosphere which bred Floyd Mayweather Jnr. It is why he feels at home in the gym. It is Friday, eight days out from the richest fight in history, but ‘Little’ Floyd is nowhere to be seen.

‘Money’ Mayweather grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where his father and two uncles began as professional boxers: Floyd Senior, a welterweight ranked No  6 in the world, now 62 years old, finished his career with a record of 28-6-1, and even fought Sugar Ray Leonard. “That was a tough fight, he gave me some problems,” Leonard told me recently.

Roger (59-13), 54, was the most talented of the three brothers, winning world titles in two weight divisions, while Jeff, 50, (record 32-10-5) now trains boxers and mixed martial arts fighters.

Roger is training a young female boxer in one corner, showing her how to drop her shoulder, and throw a right uppercut. He is patient, focused, and intense.

Floyd Mayweather Snr is sitting on the ring apron beside me, and we are talking about the big fight. But to the man in front of me, Manny Pacquiao is just another opponent for his son to master in a ring.

He pooh-poohs the idea of it being an era-defining fight. “This era is closed. It’s done. Pacquiao is done. He needs to be locked up in jail because it’s time to save his a--. Pacquiao needs to lock himself up,” he said. “He is not on Floyd’s level. All he is, is an opponent. That’s all he is. Nothing more, nothing less.”

 Then he starts to rap. “Floyd is the man to meet, if you wanna get beat; he’s back, it’s amazing, ain’t no jive, Floyd comes alive with moves and grooves and dance, you fools better recognise who’s the man.

“I know you fools don’t want to fight even though you came here tonight. But your pockets looking tight so you’re forced to fight.

“Floyd is the best, I must confess. All the rest, there’s no contest. It will shock your mind, he’s one of a kind, he’s the greatest fighter of all time.”

We talk about their relationship. “I taught the shoulder roll to Floyd when he was four of five. And he was doing it himself when he was about seven. He’s now the master at what he does. I’m very, very proud of him,” he said. “He has reached another level of being a man. He’s come around. There are so many things he does now. He’s helping people to do a lot of things. He’s got his own gym now, he’s got his own promotional company. He’s becoming more of a man now.” But the father is unconcerned about ‘Little’ Floyd chasing records.

 “It really don’t matter to me. I hope that Floyd gets out the game at the right time. This is a gambler’s game and I don’t think Floyd should be gambling too much. Once you reach that pedigree and make that kind of money, you don’t have to fight no more. I hope he walks away after this fight. Whenever you get in that ring, anything can happen. It looks easy but it ain’t as easy as it looks. He makes it look easy.”

Nor is he concerned about what critics say about his son. “I can’t worry about what people say and think. I’m pretty sure my son doesn’t worry about all that stuff. People have hatred against a whole bunch of these big celebrities. Some people said Muhammad Ali said things about Floyd, Roy Jones said things about Floyd, Mike Tyson said things about Floyd, Evander Holyfield said things about Floyd... Marvin Hagler can’t say s--- about Floyd because if Sugar Ray Leonard whooped his a--, Floyd would’ve done the same thing. Floyd is slicker. Floyd would’ve done the same thing.

“Listen, I fought Ray Leonard with one hand. I had a hairline fracture in my hand. I’d beat his a-- now. Since then I’ve come back home to boxing. I’ve been shot in the leg with a 20-gauge shotgun. And I’m willing to do that fight again and I won’t make any excuses about the leg.

 “Trust me, Floyd would have got him [Leonard]. Might not have knocked him out, but he’d have got him on points.”

Roger comes over. He has finished his work with his pupil. At the mention of the name Manny Pacquiao, Roger makes a face. Almost mocking. “He can beat this mother------ with what he’s got already.”

Floyd is focused on the fight itself. “He’s just focused on what he has to do,” Roger said.

I suggest there is something in the family’s DNA which enables such ability in lineage. “I don’t think it’s a DNA in the family, it’s just about how you train. The more you do something, the better you get at it. That’s all. It takes time.”

 Roger, unlike his brother, would like to see Floyd pursue the all-time career record. “I’d like to see Floyd beat Rocky Marciano’s record. And I know he can. Floyd can box at middleweight and he doesn’t even fight at middleweight. He fights at welterweight. He trains with welterweights, he trains with middleweights. It’s part of boxing.”

He has short shrift for Pacquiao. “I believe he’ll knock him out within five rounds. I can’t see nothing that Pacquiao can do. It’s just a matter of Floyd being focused and doing what he needs to do. And that’s whoop his a--. Let’s get there, get him out the way and go to the next one.”

Floyd Snr returns to the distain he feels for those who say his son has been avoiding Pacquiao for five years, that he is “scared”. “The next week is just a week for relaxing and laying back. All this stuff people talk about Floyd being ‘scared’ all these years – you’re going to see how scared he is next Saturday.”

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