There were those that thought HBO's 24/7 franchise had run its course, that there would be no fertile material to pluck. Those doubters swallowed their theory when they watched the jaw-dropper of a final scene in the first installment of the Mayweather-Ortiz 24/7, which is now running on HBO and HBO.com.
The confrontation between Floyd Mayweather Junior and Senior looked like something which called for the presence of Dr. Phil, or maybe Joe Cortez, because one sensed that violence, if not imminent, wasn't out of the question.
Before that crackerjack ending, viewers saw the Mayweather they've come to love, or loathe, depending on how much his brand of braggadocious loquacity is your thing.
He of course proclaimed his superiority, asking rhetorically what other athlete works as hard as him, and what other sportsman has been at the top of his heap for 16 years.
His manner contrasted mightily with Victor Ortiz, who was presented as a work in progress, a man not too far from the humble origins of his youth, when he was treated with the care reserved for an old sofa scarred with too many stains, cat-scratches and too-compacted springs. One parent blew Ortiz off, then another, and he was left to his own devices much more so than any youth should be as he exited a hellish childhood, and clawed his way to become the WBC welterweight champion.
"I'm a very positive person," the 24-year-old Ortiz told us, and had us rooting that much harder for this massive underdog, as we learned that most of his training team works 9-5 jobs, and then comes to the gym for their second shift. Who wouldn't root for this kid, who told us how his family fractured. "What would you do if I were to leave you guys?" his mom asked him. "You wouldn't do that," little Victor said. But she did, she left a 7 year old boy. A few years later, dad bolted the kids, left them in a trailer without food or electricity. Victor and siblings fended for themselves for a few years, staying with friends, before they entered the foster care system. Again, I ask, who wouldn't be rooting for this good to pull off a massive upset after hearing about that ordeal...even if you've already heard the tale.
The contrast between Ortiz and Mayweather, who refers to his crew, which includes the rapper 50 Cent, as "The Money Team," was skillfully rendered by the HBO artists. No, there's no one like Uncle Roger on Team Ortiz. "Why would I give a f--- about Victor Ortiz, he don't mean s--- to me. Victor Ortiz ain't no kin to me. I wouldn't know him from another bag of white rice," Floyd's trainer said.
How you respond to such rhetoric I guess it all depends on what sort of behavior appeals to you, and perhaps, what side of the tracks you grew up on. Someone coming from hardscrabble origins might be more inclined to identify with Roger's manner, see it as totally understandable, while some would label crude and dismissive.
Viewers then saw Floyd Senior visit Junior in the gym. "At the end of the day, he's a son, it's your blood, blood is thicker than mud. If he wins, I win. His name's Floyd Joy Mayweather...Junior, I'm Senior." The implication is clear, that these two are still hashing out a turf war, still clarifying their position in the familial pecking order, with the dad trying to elicit some credit from the son for being responsible for his presence, and the son sending the return message that his status derives not from a genetic gift, but from self determination.
"It all started with my father," Floyd allows, but anyone that has followed the saga knows that the active fighter is not beneath tossing a barb at dad which diminishes his role in the success of the son.
There is no absence of psychic drama in the mind of Ortiz, mind you. Viewers were reminded how Victor's 'no mas' against Marcos Maidana shaped him. "I don't regret anything I did in my life," he said, when asked about the night he quit. He redeemed himself, of course, when in late spring he took down Andre Berto. One had to be struck by his vehement belief in himself, and the dripping contempt he shows for the opinions of others. If you saw him as an 8-to-1 underdog, maybe you dropped him down to 7-to-1 as you saw the embers in his eyes.
And what if Mayweather's sparring with the law--he's a defendant in six different cases currently--affects his focus as he readies himself for Sept. 17? "Eff it, it's going to be what it's going to be," he said when asked if the law woes will drain him. It's of course impossible to know if he's fronting, playing the role of the intrepid rebel, and actually lies awake at night pondering an iffy future and if that future might include time behind bars. That's part of the fun of immersing yourself in the Mayweather maelstrom, sifting through what is likely BS and what is real.
Speaking off what is real, viewers saw footage of Floyd's fiancee, who was ID'd as "Miss Jackson." Her real name is Shantel Jackson, a model and aspiring actress from Miami. She flashed a massive rock, and dimples to die for. Ortiz probably hopes Floyd spends too much time admiring all her dimples and crannies, and neglects training...
It doesn't look like Ortiz is neglecting the grunt work before the big day. Trainer Danny Garcia oversees Ortiz, and there is drama in that relationship, as well. His kid brother Robert used to train Ortiz but Victor dumped him, and asked Danny to helm his ship. Things aren't right to this day in the Garcia family because of that development.
Mayweather father and son, though, their division is at a whole 'nother level. Viewers saw disturbing evidence of this, when Junior said "You can't train nobody when you're locked up" when Senior looked to get credit for crafting Junior. Junior then tells his dad that Roger is the best trainer, Senior says he's the best, and an average viewer shakes his head and wonders how people harboring such animus and immaturity have been able to make such professional headway.
"Tell me one champion you got right now," Junior asks Senior, who sputters. "You ain't got none...De La Hoya left you, Hatton don't want to be with you...Roger's the one, this is my trainer right here...We don't want anybody interfering while we're working...Get out of our way...This is our gym." At this point, the juicer bodyguards slide into the picture, and look to de-escalate the whole fracas, which of course none of us know is the real deal, or played up in the style of "Jersey Shore," or "Housewives" or any of the other "reality" series which feature beefs just like this one to boost ratings.
Junior tries to toss his dad out of the gym and dad tells him to "push me out, emeffer." The "emeffer" in case you lost track, is his son.
"I'll beat you're mothereffing a--," the father screams, and then yells, "41-1," apparently implying that he'd hand Floyd his first loss. "You couldn't fight worth s---," Floyd responds. "You weren't nothing but an emeffer cab-driver."
Bottom line, if this was a put on, or even deliberately escalated to amp the show, then some Grade A acting was going on. It looked like tempers were flaring like herpes; neck veins bulged everywhere and onlookers looked horrified.
Floyd cools down with an explanation, saying that is all paid up on his houses and cars, and that he could retire after the Ortiz fight if he wanted to. "Roger Mayweather made the Mayweather name and I took it to the next level," he said, finishing that only he and Roger are the Mayweathers that matter in the boxing universe, and for that matter, "I'm not no Junior."
And you were worried that 24/7 wouldn't be able to muster compelling material?
One can argue that such squabbles shouldn't be fodder for drama, that the father-son faceoff is nothing but a sad commentary on a mega-dysfunctional family which needs ample therapy to heal their wounds, instead of cameras to inflame and exploit. One can't argue that Mayweather isn't a compelling character, and that without him, boxing is a much more boring place.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?