LAS VEGAS – Everybody was ready to fight Wednesday at the MGM Grand but the two guys who knew how.
In the midst of the final pre-fight press conference hyping Saturday night’s WBC welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Robert Guerrero, near-mayhem broke out when Ruben Guerrero, father of the challenger, began to holler that Mayweather was a “woman beater.’’
This was particularly irksome to Guerrero, apparently, not so much because of the actions that led Mayweather to serve 82 days in the county lockup in Las Vegas last year for misdemeanor battery on the mother of three of his children but rather because that same guy had called his son a “religious hypocrite’’ after seeing photographs of Marilyn Monroe on the wall of the Guerrero family home in Gilroy, CA.
Not sure when Marilyn Monroe’s photo began to symbolize a lack of faith in Jesus but that’s where Floyd Mayweather, Jr. took it and Ruben Guerrero was obviously not pleased about it. Yet as the elder Guerrero ranted and raved on the stage at the Hollywood Theatre and later got into a heated verbal sparring match with Mayweather’s father, Floyd, Sr., the two fighters stood in the background watching silently.
Security ringed the stage mostly to keep supporters of Mayweather and Guerrero from turning a press conference into a crime scene. Behind them two grown men cursed and hollered like two adolescents in the schoolyard.
Behind them sat Mayweather and Guerrero the Younger, two fighters with no interest in joining the fray because this was not their time. That would come in three days, when all the talkers step away and all that’s left are the doers.
“I’m not going to go to that level,’’ Guerrero’s son said of his father’s comments. “I didn’t know he was going to do that but I knew he’d get a little crazy. I can’t tell my father what to say. We respect each other as men but he’s his own man. What he does, he does.
“I have to be who I am. I’m not going to tell him what to say but what they’re fighting about doesn’t concern me. My job is to be focused on what I got to do.’’
Mayweather echoed similar feelings, unconcerned it seemed about what Guerrero’s father thought of him. Instead he was unusually calm as the storm thundered around him Wednesday.
Unlike in the years of his youth, the 36-year-old Mayweather said he felt no need to respond to Guerrero’s father but rather to what his son would have to say three days later in the only fight of the week that counts for anything but noise.
“I don’t care about what the father says,’’ Mayweather said. “I don’t have to bad mouth his father. I don’t have to go there. I’m here to fight the fighter.’’
Mayweather and Guerrero both understood Wednesday was not Fight Night. Wednesday was not the time to get into a brawl over the opinion of your opponent’s father. In fact, Mayweather said he had done what he could to avoid just the kind of confrontation that had taken place.
“I’m just trying to avoid conflict,’’ he said. “I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. His Dad, my dad get to fighting and someone gets hurt…’’
Mayweather’s voice trailed off at the silliness of such a thought resulting in the fight itself, which represents a $30 million payday to Mayweather and millions to Guerrero as well, being put in jeopardy by such nonsense. It was why he did not have his father sitting with him on the dais at the final press conference, as is customary.
Mayweather’s father had not been his lead trainer for 13 years, a family feud leading to a serious fracture in their relationship. The father would slip in and out of his life, always things ended loudly but the longer the two were apart the more it allowed them to grow back together.
Finally, with his uncle Roger fighting the debilitating effects of diabetes to the point it made training his nephew difficult, the son and the father reached an accommodation and were rejoined, at least for this moment which is Mayweather’s first pay-per-view event since leaving HBO for SHOWTIME.
“My dad and my uncle Roger are two great trainers,’’ Mayweather said. “Everything is playing out the way it should. This ain’t about religion. This is about fighting. God don’t choose a side.’’
Guerrero doesn’t seem to agree with that, making plain his faith in himself is deeply intertwined with his faith in a power larger than himself. He is a vocal Christian, proud of his faith and clear in his mind that come Saturday night, when the only fighting that matters will be done by the sons not the fathers, he will be in the ring for a reason.
“I’m confident God put me in this position for a reason,’’ Guerrero said. “You guys may think I’m crazy but it’s what I believe.
“The way I look at it the pressure is on him to keep his legacy, not on me,’’ Guerrero said.
When the only noise around them becomes the roar of the crowd and the echoing of a bell, the pressure will actually be on them both. Each will decide the other’s fate. God, like the fathers, will be a silent spectator and it won’t matter what anybody has to say but the two of them.