Floyd Mayweather credits father for his longevity in boxing
Floyd Jr. says the key has been reducing the number of time he's been hit
Five-division world champion backtracks on previous retirement claim
Glance at Floyd Mayweather’s complex life story and it’s hard not to be reminded of the lyrics to Sly and the Family Stone’s classic song: “It’s a Family Affair” — “Blood’s thicker than the mud, it’s a family affair.”
To start with there is the boxer’s relationship with his father, which has such a degree of bad blood that even psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud might have trouble exploring the demons that have been unleashed between father and son.
In May, the pair were professionally reunited for the first time in 13 years as Floyd Sr. worked the corner during his son’s successful welterweight title defense against Robert Guerrero.
The intervening years had been characterized by bitter rows and public slanging matches as the Mayweathers fell out to such extent that Floyd Sr. once told reporters he did not even know the names of two of his grandchildren.
But as the man nicknamed “Money” returned to the ring for the first time since serving a two-month jail term for a domestic violence conviction, he enlisted the help of his father.
The official reason for his return two months ago was that the five-division world champion’s regular trainer – Floyd Sr.’s brother Roger – was too debilitated by diabetes to be relied upon.
Mayweather Sr. had last taken charge of Floyd’s corner in 2000 prior to being booted out of his son’s house, and life, shortly after.
A notable feature of Floyd Jr.’s unanimous points decision over Guerrero, the WBC’s interim champion while Mayweather was in prison, became the fact that he had tightened up his defense – a product of his father’s work, the fighter says.
“My dad is a remarkable trainer, a defensive wizard,” the man with the 44-0 record told CNN in an exclusive interview.
“My dad brings everything. It all started with my father. What’s been installed in me from the beginning is the less you get hit, the longer you last in the sport. My father was right.”
Floyd Sr. knows about the importance of avoiding major injury all too well. He has frequently recounted how he was shot in the leg by Tony Sinclair – the later brother of Floyd Jr.’s mother – in 1978
“I got shot early in my career with a 20 gauge shotgun,” Floyd Sr. has said. “And I was holding my son when I got shot. Floyd was one at the time.”
Floyd Sr. was holding his son during the shooting incident to ensure he was not hit in the face or upper body - a move that he believes saved his life.
“I wasn’t going to put that baby down,” Floyd Sr. told the Los Angeles Times in 2012.
“I didn’t want to die. It wasn’t about putting my son in the line of fire. I knew [Sinclair] wouldn’t shoot the baby. So he took the gun off my face, lowered it to my leg and bam!”
Floyd Jr.’s defensive skills are such that he has long been known as “Pretty Boy” because of the fact he has boxed his many bouts so well his face has been largely unblemished.
“It was basically for not taking any punishment,” said Floyd Jr. “You know, I can’t be over the age of 30 calling myself ‘Pretty Boy’. I’m a man.”
His fight against Guerrero was the first of a six-part deal with Showtime, with every bout worth at least $32m to a sportsman named as the highest earner by Forbes magazine for 2012.
When he signed the 30-month deal in February, the 36-year-old Mayweather said it would be his last as a professional fighter and that he would be retiring when the contract ended.
But he seems to have had a change of heart given comments he made on Monday while promoting his next fight – against 22-year-old Mexican sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September.
“After my five more fights, guess what? I think after (getting to) 49-0 we may stay in this sport a little longer,” Mayweather told a crowd some 5,000 strong at the Alamo in San Antonio.
There has been speculation that Mayweather’s decision to recall his father reveals a desire to finally bury the hatchet, with the 60-year-old suffering from the lung disease sarcoidosis.
When asked by CNN what he had learnt from his time in jail, a sentence earned after he assaulted his former partner Josie Harris – the mother of two of his children – in 2010, Mayweather gave the following reply.
“Never take anything for granted. As far as … you could see a person here today and gone tomorrow. So never take anything for granted,” he said.
Mayweather learnt his boxing skills from his father, a former fighter who was stopped by Sugar Ray Leonard in 10 rounds in 1978, until Floyd Sr. was given a five-and-a-half-year jail term for drug trafficking when his son was 16.
It meant he was absent for the bronze medal his son won at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the start of his professional career later that year.
Floyd Sr. trained his son upon his release from prison in 1998 but the pair fell out soon after, with their last fight taking place in 2000 as the then junior lightweight champion defended his title.
Floyd’s uncle Roger – who won two titles himself in the 1990s – took charge but there is little lost between the siblings, even if Floyd Jr may be trying to change this in what may prove to be his toughest fight so far.
“He figures he can (bring us together) by having us in the corner together,” Roger told MLive.com in April. “That’s the only thing I can think of. All this time, Floyd’s been with me, the whole time he’s boxed. So for it to be something else, it’s something that he’s trying to mend.”
And recent comments from Floyd Jr. do nothing to dispel the notion that a man whose career is built upon effective violence is trying to bring harmony to a warring boxing dynasty.
“The arguments we had in the past or the differences my dad and my uncle had in the past—that’s the past,” Mayweather, who is often labeled the world’s best pound-to-pound boxer, said in May.
“That’s why we call it the past because we try to leave that in the past and focus on the future and the future should be bright.”