A gust of wind whistles through the crowded gym as Floyd Mayweather orchestrates pinpoint punches from his pupil like a music maestro directing a full symphony.
Pacing and rhythm are deadly serious even during drills.
Other pugilistic trainers peek a look over at the professor of boxing who wears a white cut-off tee shirt emblazoned with “World’s Greatest Trainer” on the front. Mayweather shouts out instructions to his protégé who is sparring inside one of two boxing rings.
Inside the Las Vegas boxing gym Mayweather appears content. But once the gym quiets down the turmoil regarding his potential tutoring of Oscar De La Hoya boils to the surface. His son Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be opposing the Golden Boy on May 5, 2007.
It could be the greatest boxing event of this century.
Critics decry the father for intending to guide a fighter against his own son. In one recent piece a boxing writer debased Mayweather for his decision to train De La Hoya for the right price.
Mayweather was incensed by the comments tossed at him.
“That writer is an a*****e,” Mayweather said. “He’s a coward for not saying it to my face.”
It irks the professional boxing trainer that anyone should be able to toss rocks through his glasshouse.
“People don’t understand I was training Oscar before little Floyd wanted to fight him. So why should I have to stop,” said Mayweather. “I didn’t tell little Floyd to fight him.”
Teaching prizefighters the finer points of the science of boxing has enabled the former professional boxer to accumulate a number of the best prizefighters in the country. Fighters line up to learn the finer points of boxing from the boxing maestro, like some modern-day Socrates.
Professional fighters such as Panchito Bojado, Mickey and Cortez Bey, Chad Dawson and Laila Ali enlist his aid to prepare for battle inside the ring.
“I got a few more,” Mayweather says.
On this day, after Chad Dawson completes his training for the day, Ali steps through the ring ropes to begin her work with the boxing maestro. Speed and more speed with precision, timing and defense are Mayweather’s trademarks.
“Floyd works on everything defense and offense,” said Ali who is preparing for her next bout, that takes place in Africa on Feb. 3.
Though Mayweather has guided De La Hoya’s last eight prizefights during the last seven years, the former Michigan native feels a variety of reasons predicate a larger contract for this looming clash. At the moment, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather are negotiating.
“First, both Oscar and little Floyd are getting much more than they normally get, so why can’t I get mine? I got to be compensated,” Mayweather says adding that De La Hoya is making more than $26 million and his son $12 million. “Second, he’s (De La Hoya) fighting my son. I’m the one who taught him (Floyd Jr.) all he knows.”
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has rocketed through the boxing world capturing world titles in four weight classes beginning in 1998 when he stopped Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez for the WBC junior lightweight title. Since then he moved up in weight three more times in winning the lightweight division, junior welterweight division and welterweight division world titles. Now he’s zeroing in for a fifth against De La Hoya.
“If Oscar wants to beat little Floyd he has to come to me. I’m not saying he can’t beat Floyd without me because he does have a puncher’s chance,” Mayweather said, adding that De La Hoya has the heart of a champion. “But I got all the answers because little Floyd learned all he knows from me.”
When De La Hoya first announced he would consider fighting Mayweather Jr. he insisted he would do it with Mayweather Sr.
“I won’t fight without Floyd Mayweather Sr. in my corner,” De La Hoya said after beating Ricardo Mayorga last May.
At first Floyd Sr. balked at the prospect of guiding a fighter against his son. But now, for an unspecified price, he would prepare the Golden Boy against his son Floyd Jr.
Back in the late 1990s Mayweather Sr. was imprisoned for several years on drug charges. He resumed training his son but soon the two broke from each other due to differences of opinion over managerial matters. Papa Mayweather was kicked off the residence his son had allowed him to use and the two have barely spoken with each other since. Floyd Sr. was replaced as his son’s trainer with Roger Mayweather the uncle.
Mayweather Sr. said this past November the Mayweather family gathered for a holiday at grandma’s house. He arrived early and expected to see the whole family. When Floyd Jr. arrived and learned his father was present, he departed quickly.
“He jumped back in his car and left,” said Mayweather shaking his head. “That decided for me to kick his [butt] and get someone to kick his butt for me.”
Floyd Jr. refuses to comment on the family matters. He acknowledges the boxing wisdom he attained from his father and his uncle.
“My father is more defensive-minded,” said Floyd Jr. “My uncle Roger’s style is more exciting.”
Family strife aside, Golden Boy Promotions has yet to decide whether to bow to Mayweather’s demand for a monetary boost for his services. Calls to the Golden Boy headquarters on Friday afternoon have not been returned.
Mayweather doesn’t worry about whether he will be retained or not.
“When he challenged Oscar he challenged his daddy,” he says of his son. “Training fighters is my job. It’s my business. I don’t want to go back in prison again.”
As Chad Dawson, one of his fighters, prepares to leave the gym, Mayweather gives the lanky southpaw some advice. The light heavyweight challenger listens intently as if it were his father.
“I’m a teacher,” Mayweather said. “Ain’t no one man going to hold me down.”