Floyd Mayweather: 'I had a father who was a hustler and a mother who was on drugs'
It is hardly surprising that Floyd Mayweather has become a boxing superstar without losing a fight. Thanks to his dysfunctional family, the kid they still call 'Pretty Boy' has been battling all his life
Thursday 06 December 2007
A brief history of the fighting Mayweather boys has to start with crack, shotguns and strippers in tears before ending in the prize ring. Little Floyd is the son of Big Floyd and the nephew of Roger and Jeff and between the quartet of misfits they have been making the boxing news in America and especially in Las Vegas for about 25 years.
All four can fight but they have all struggled to contain their skills within the 20-foot boundaries of a ring and with each slap and violent episode their profile and bloody notoriety has risen.
The three brothers fought their way in and out of world titles and big encounters against some of modern boxing's finest artists but it was the baby-faced child, who grew up in gyms mimicking his father and uncles, who came to focus their attention and now dominates their existence.
All three have spent time in charge of "Pretty Boy" Floyd, as he is officially known in the boxing world, and all three have predictably attacked each other. At present Roger, who was known as the Black Mamba and won world titles at two weights in the 1980s, is firmly in control of Mayweather Jnr. However, last September Roger was sentenced to six months for breaking in half two bottom teeth belonging to his son's grandmother.
During Roger's incarceration in Las Vegas on the assault charge little Floyd and big Floyd started talking again, which was odd because at the time Floyd Jnr had just signed to fight Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Snr trained De La Hoya. The potentially delicate situation was resolved when De La Hoya refused to meet Floyd Snr's financial demands. "I told Oscar that I know how to beat my son but he don't want to pay to learn," said Floyd Snr.
From his temporary home in a cell Roger was quick to insist that he would remain the main trainer for the De La Hoya fight, which, by the way, set new revenue records in boxing. It should also be pointed out that in addition to the prison sentence the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned Roger at the time from working in Floyd Jnr's corner. The boxing ban had nothing to do with the grandma's broken teeth but related to a fight in April 2006 when Roger entered the ring in round 10 intent on knocking out Zab Judah, who had just hit Floyd Jnr low. Roger received a 12-month ban and was fined $200,000 (100,000).
The two Floyds have always had a turbulent life together. When the boy was one his father used him as a human shield when the boy's uncle, this time on his mother's side, arrived at a house with a shotgun. Floyd Snr held the boy up and the gunman simply shot Floyd Snr in the leg.
The father and son pair separated for over five years when Floyd Snr was sent to prison for drug trafficking and during that period from 1992 until 1998 Uncle Rog, as Floyd Jnr calls him, firmly established his credential as the trainer. However, father and son joined forces after the prison sentence and were together in the ring on the night in late 1998 when Floyd Jnr won the first of his world titles at super-featherweight. The pair started to disagree and fell out leaving the way for first Jeff and then Roger to take control. Floyd Snr calls his brothers snakes but they are still able on occasion to share the same gym if they are working with different fighters. They sit around and swap foul-mouthed compliments.
Since winning his first title he has added belts at lightweight, light-welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight. His fight with Ricky Hatton on Saturday is for the World Boxing Council welterweight championship. "It's never been easy for me. Life has not been easy the boxing is easy but life has never been easy," said Floyd Jnr. "I had a father who was a hustler and a mother who was on drugs. I was the man in the house from 16. That's just the way it was."
At the time Floyd Jnr was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and often sharing bedrooms with six or seven members of his extended family. His mother was a serious crack addict at the time but she is now back in his life and he often refers to her as his wife.
"Let me tell you how it was. At Christmas we never had a Christmas. My mother would go out and steal presents for me. She tried but it was hard and that's why I look after her now," continued Floyd Jnr.
There is a distrust of women that is certainly shared by father and son and obviously the loose cannon that is Roger, who, by the way, has made threatening remarks about members of Hatton's training team. Senior Mayweather men have an unsavoury history and Floyd Jnr, who at the last count had four children from two women, appears to share their enthusiasm. In 2002 he pleaded guilty to domestic assault charges against the mother of his eldest son and in 2005 he was acquitted of assaulting the mother of his other three children.
"Right now I'm close to my mother and I can see the jealousy in my father. He's jealous that I have a relationship again with her. I certainly don't need another woman in my life. My mother is my sweetheart and I don't need to get married to fight my whole life just for some woman to get all the money," said Floyd Jnr.
Away from the boxing he owns a record label called "Philthy Rich", enjoys throwing hundred dollar bills into crowds of stupid fame junkies, which is called "making it rain", and excels at buying huge cars that make him look increasingly diddy.
But, it's in the ring under the lights that the troubled boy finds sweet salvation. He is unbeaten in 38 fights as a professional and his last loss was in the Atlanta Olympics in August 1996. He lost in the semi-final at featherweight 10-9 to Bulgaria's Serafim Todorov, who at 27 was 8 years older than Mayweather and was also the reigning world amateur champion. He filed the only official complaint of the whole boxing tournament, which was rejected, and left with a bronze medal.
Mayweather fought and won 17 times in 24 months before winning his first world title at super-featherweight, and back then there was talk of a fight against Sheffield's fallen idol Naseem Hamed but instead there was a rapid rise through the weight divisions. Mayweather, however, remains a massive fan of the unorthodox Hamed.
The only serious blip in Mayweather's boxing career was in his first fight at lightweight for the WBC's title against Mexico's Jose Luis Castillo in 2002. Mayweather won a narrow points decision but the Mexican was able to get close enough and often enough to make some people doubt the final verdict. In a rematch eight months later Mayweather adjusted and won clearly. His fight with Hatton is only happening because Hatton knocked out Castillo in June.
There was a big fight in 2005 against a worn-out but still marketable Arturo Gatti for the WBC's light-welterweight title and the following year the controversial International Boxing Federation welterweight fight against Judah. Both made Mayweather a lot of money.
In May of this year Mayweather beat De La Hoya in a fight that shattered all financial records. It took $120m (60m) in pay-per-view revenue, was screened in 176 countries, shown at over 200 closed-circuit venues in America, took $19m (9.5m) in gate receipts and was also watched by 28,000 people at screenings in Las Vegas.
"I make the money for all the fighters Gatti, De La Hoya and Hatton. That's what I do and that's what I'm going to keep on doing when I walk away from boxing," said Mayweather. "In between five and 10 years I will be a billionaire and then I want to be the first African-American to have a casino. I want to be the 60 per cent owner of a casino on Las Vegas Boulevard. That ain't a dream that's going to be a fact."
Next Saturday he will arrive in front of his audience at the MGM. He will pass his father, who will get a ticket from De La Hoya, in the medium-priced seats and walk between the shoulders of his uncle Roger and his business manager Leonard Ellerbe to the lights, his money and what passes for the truth to the troubled ring genius.
Floyd's Fall Guys: Mayweather's professional record of 38 victims
1996: 11 Oct: Roberto Apodaca, Las Vegas, KO 2nd rd; 30 Nov: Reggie Sanders, Albuquerque, W 4.
1997: 18 Jan: Jerry Cooper, Las Vegas, TKO 1; 1 Feb: Edgar Ayala, Chula Vista, California, KO 2; 12 Mar: Kino Rodriguez, Grand Rapids, TKO 1; 12 Apr: Robert Giepert, Las Vegas, TKO 1; 9 May: Tony Duran, Las Vegas, TKO 1; 14 June 14: Larry O'Shields, San Antonio, Texas, W 6; 12 July 12: Jesus Chavez, Biloxi, Mississippi, TKO 5; 6 Sept: Luis Leija, El Paso, Texas, KO 2; 14 Oct: Felipe Garcia, Boise, Idaho, KO 6; 20 Nov: Angelo Nunez, Los Angeles, TKO 3.
1998: 9 Jan: Hector Arroyo, Biloxi, Mississippi, TKO 5; 28 Feb: Sam Girad, Atlantic City, KO 2; 23 Mar: Miguel Melo, Ledyard, Connecticut, TKO 3; 18 Apr: Gustavo Cuello, Los Angeles, W 10; 14 June: Tony Pep, Atlantic City, W 10; 3 Oct: Genaro Hernandez, Las Vegas, TKO 8
(won WBC super featherweight title); 19 Dec: Angel Manfredy, Miami, TKO 2 (retained WBC super featherweight title).
1999: 17 Feb: Carlos Rios, Grand Rapids, Michigan, W 12 (Retained WBC super featherweight title); 22 May: Justin Juuko, Las Vegas, KO 9 (retained WBC super featherweight title); 11 Sept: Carlos Gerena, Las Vegas, TKO 7 (Retained WBC super featherweight title).
2000: 18 Mar: Goyo Vargas, Las Vegas, W 12 (retained WBC super featherweight title); 21 Oct: Emanuel Burton, Detroit, TKO 9.
2001 20 Jan: Diego Corrales, Las Vegas, TKO 10 (retained WBC super featherweight title); 26 May: Carlos Hernandez, Grand Rapids, Michigan, W 12 (retained WBC super-featherweight title); 10 Nov: Jesus Chavez, San Francisco, TKO 10 (retained WBC super-featherweight title).
2002: 20 Apr: Jose Luis Castillo, Las Vegas, W 12 (Won WBC lightweight title); 7 Dec: Jose Luis Castillo, Las Vegas, W 12 (Retained WBC lightweight title).
2003: 19 Apr: Victoriano Sosa, Fresno, CA, W 12 (Retained WBC lightweight title). 1 Nov: Phillip N'Dou, Grand Rapids, Michigan, TKO 7 (Retained WBC lightweight title).
2004: May 22 DeMarcus Corley, Atlantic City, W 12
2005: 22 Jan Henry Bruseles, Miami, TKO 8; 25 Jun: Arturo Gatti, Atlantic City, TKO 6 (Won WBC Light Welterweight Title); 19 Nov: Sharmba Mitchell, Portland, OR, TKO 6.
2006: 4 Nov: Carlos Baldomir, Las Vegas, NV, W 12 (Won WBC Welterweight Title).
2007: 8 Apr: Zab Judah, Las Vegas, NV, W 12 (Won IBF Welterweight Title) 19 May: Oscar De La Hoya, W 12 (Won WBC Jr. Middleweight Title).
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