From Ring Marvel to Villain to Family Man

By Christian Giudice on May 4, 2013
From Ring Marvel to Villain to Family Man
As his personal life imploded, Mayweather’s dedication to the fight game never wavered.

If he is sincere about growing as a person and making the necessary changes in his life, it sure would be nice to see the new Floyd Mayweather…

I first saw Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in his debut against Roberto Apodaca on a small nondescript card in Nevada. He was packaged as the Olympian bronze medalist who was unfairly held back at the 1996 Games by a controversial decision. That evening the speed reminded me of a 1982 version of Hector Camacho. He was raw, but the unlimited potential was evident even back then.

In 1998, Mayweather’s brilliance and dazzle erupted in rounds six and seven of a super featherweight defense against the highly respected Genaro Hernandez. In the sixth round Mayweather began as the aggressor, splitting a constantly moving Hernandez with a lethal right uppercut, and hooking beautifully off his pinpoint jab. Realizing that Hernandez was fighting too cautiously to land his combinations, Mayweather adapted and the next round he urged Hernandez take the lead. Immediately, Mayweather dashed Hernandez’s hopes with running right hands that were virtually indefensible.

Two years later as Mayweather carved out his career as one of the top 130-pounders of all time, he did the same things to an even more dangerous super featherweight Diego Corrales. In other words, he turned a good boxer and then-emerging talent into a hesitant, normal fighter. Those two performances are ones I turn to when I think about Mayweather at his peak. He would become a more intelligent fighter as he got older, but the blend of speed and power during those performances were absolutely overwhelming.

With the exception of underwhelming performances against Jose Luis Castillo, Mayweather never shortchanged his audience. Of course, Mayweather’s style wasn’t always appealing, but he was always in shape and always knew exactly what he needed to do in order to win the fight. As he established himself as the best fighter in the world, he also felt the need to adopt the irascible persona of the intolerable villain—a clear strategic move.

The problem was that he never got out of character, and after a spate of run-ins with the police outside the ring along with bizarre, spontaneous rants, Mayweather quickly went from the sport’s most dynamic star to a WWF caricature. That’s what happens when fighters retire and have too much time on their hands. Was some of the vitriol part of a marketing scheme? Did he go to extremes (fighting with his father) to sell those 24/7 documentaries? Absolutely. However, in time, the excuse “It’s Floyd just being Floyd,” didn’t cut it anymore.

As his personal life imploded, Mayweather’s dedication to the game never wavered. More importantly as Mayweather looks to extend his undefeated streak to 44 fights tonight against Robert Guerrero, one thing cannot be questioned—his respect for the fight game. As the world waits for Mayweather to slip up, he’s never stopped living the life of a gym rat—a fighter so deft at ignoring the turbulence of his often chaotic personal life that he adroitly blocks it all out when he begins his rigorous training sessions. No fighter in recent history has been able to accomplish that.

Now Mayweather has—at least—shown an inclination to change. The swagger. The arrogance. The insolence directed toward anything that didn’t revolve around him. Have those qualities that once defined Floyd Mayweather Jr. completely evaporated? My guess is not entirely. Critics—and I have always been a huge one of Floyd, the man—suggest that jail time softened Mayweather and made him redirect the path in which he was headed.

It will take time to see what type of effect a prison stint had on him. Whether the current makeover represents a genuine attempt to start over has yet to be determined. Early indications prove that Mayweather has begun to change. He has vowed to become more of a family man, promised to cut out those people who don’t have his best interests, and invited his father, Floyd Sr., to return to his corner.

It would be unfair to not point out that there is another side to Mayweather that often gets overshadowed. Mayweather has paid for funerals, helped the struggling adults and teens in his community, and performed other deeds with his foundation that he doesn’t allow to be made public. On countless occasions, boxing insiders have acknowledged that he is a good guy. Judging solely from the last five years of incidents and altercations, that assertion is hard to fathom. But if he is sincere about growing as a person and making the necessary changes in his life, it sure would be nice to see the new Floyd—one that has so much to offer.

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  1. Jason 05:46pm, 05/04/2013

    those are my thoughts, too. they have been for a while. I know someone who claims to have met and knows someone who knows him fairly well. You know how that game goes. At any rate, he’s generous and nice. Arrogant, scrappy to be sure, but an overall guy who know’s he’s been blessed. One guy, I’m told wanted to see one of his cars, floyd loaded him, took him to his house, and let him look at all of them. He didn’t even know the guy.

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