By TK Stewart
Photo © Mary Ann Owen/FightWireImages
Itís not supposed to be the trainer that you notice in boxing but you canít help but notice Floyd Mayweather, Sr. also known as "Big" Floyd. For most of them, their job is often thankless, anonymous and relegated to the background. Typically, theirs is a life of early mornings and late nights spent hanging out in smelly gyms, emptying spit buckets and barking out orders while trying to get hard messages through to pugs who have even harder heads. But then Floyd Mayweather, Sr. is not just any trainer and he has a hard time even saying the word anonymous. You see, staying in the background is not what heís all about.
Listen to "Big" Floyd and heíll tell you that heís the greatest boxing trainer in the world. Listen to him long enough and you begin to believe him. Need his opinion? You donít have to ask for it because heíll tell you; "Shit man, Iím the best and Iíve forgotten more than all of these other guys will ever know."
Maybe he is the best. Up until last week he was the trainer of Oscar De La Hoya who just happens to be the biggest name in boxing. Then there is his son, "Little" Floyd or Floyd, Jr. who is currently regarded as the number one pound-for-pound boxer on the planet whom was trained by his father for many of his formative years and early in his pro career. Of his son, "Big" Floyd says this, "I taught him everything he knows, but I didnít teach him everything I know." Heís also the trainer of Muhammad Aliís daughter, Laila "She Be Stinginí" Ali who is the best lady boxer on the planet. And just last night he coached a young protťgť named "Bad" Chad Dawson to the WBC Light Heavyweight title in an impressive victory over the previously undefeated Tomasz Adamek from Poland.
He was a solid fighter in his own right who struggled to a career record of 29-6-1 (19)KO and he did get so far as to match wits with Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978. He comes from a boxing family that includes well-known boxing brothers Roger and Jeff. But, he no longer trains his son and he hasnít spoken to his brother Roger in over a decade. For that matter, itís been several years since he has spoken to his own son, but that doesnít stop "Big" Floyd from taking any of the credit for the success his son has experienced.
Let "Big" Floyd tell you about "Little" Floyd; "People know that Floyd is the best fighter in the world because his Daddy trained him. I might not be training him now but I taught him everything he knows. Who do you think trained him from the beginning? It was me! Itís so plain to see that Ray Charles could see that one. I donít think it was a miracle that Floyd became the fighter he is today. Somebody had to have been there to show him from day one."
"Big" Floyd has often been a vocal critic of his son. After every one of his sonís fights, no matter how good he has or has not performed, the father always seems to know best and points out all of his sonís mistakes, no matter how small. The criticism is not lost on the son, "My father can say whatever he wants to say," the current, undefeated, WBC welterweight champion and four division titlist says. "Heís said he taught me everything I know but not everything he knows. Iím glad he didnít, because then my record would be like his. He lost to one legend, Sugar Ray Leonard, but his other losses were to journeymen and cab drivers."
"Big" Floyd never got a shot at a title and he never made the type of money in his entire boxing career that his son has made for even one fight. So who can blame him when he recently asked De La Hoya for $2 million to train him to fight his son for their May 5th super fight that will take place in Las Vegas?
De La Hoya countered with an offer of $500,000 up front and another $500,00 if he won. "What Iím asking for is nowhere near what heís going to make", said Floyd. "Thereís too much money for me to take chits and bits."
When the offer was left as a take or leave it, "Big" Floyd left it. He said no dice, that heís not a gambler and that it was $2 million he would need to show Oscar the secrets of "How to beat my son".
So instead, De La Hoya, who Floyd calls "super tight with a buck" chose Freddie Roach as his trainer. Floyd justifies the $2 million dollar asking price this way, "Oscar was sensational in his last fight" (a fifth-round stoppage of Ricardo Mayorga) "He didn't start looking sensational until he got with me. I know my job too well, man - and I'm not stupid, either. I have the blueprint for this fight. What other coach is he going to find to beat ĎLittleí Floyd? But, hey, itís his money and itís his call. It's not like I was uncomfortable with what heís been paying me. Itís still six figures. But this is a little different Ďcause heís fighting my son, man. I've already told him, 'Thatís my son, and heís going to be my son forever.í"
Last week, Oscar announced that he had hired Freddie Roach to be his trainer for the fight against "Little" Floyd. If "Big" Floyd was hurt by Oscarís sleight and the loss of what would have been $1 million he isnít letting it show. "Fine", is what he says. "I make money, money donít make me." What will I do? I'm not a fighter no more. What do I do for a living? Iím a boxing trainer, manÖand the best in the business thank you very muchÖand that's what Iíll continue to do. I got me a whole bunch of fighters now, I know my job and I'll just keep doing my job, man. Shit"
Floyd has disdain for just about every other trainer in the sport. Whether they be a hall of fame trainer such as Emanuel Steward or Buddy McGirt or Freddie Roach, Floyd is not impressed with any of them. "I couldn't care less about Freddie Roach", says Floyd. "Freddie Roach don't know shit, I can tell you that. You tell me, who has he really trained? He didn't train James Toney, James Toney trained himself. And who in the hell is Manny Pacquiao? Heís strong and he can punch hard, but that's it - he don't know how to box. So, tell me, who has he trained?"
Having spent time in federal prison for cocaine trafficking in the late 1990ís, "Big" Floyd isnít one to look back. He came out of prison with nothing and after becoming estranged from his son and getting the De La Hoya gig he now has a house in Las Vegas and a stable of fighters that look to him for his wisdom and acumen. Heís street smart and carries himself in a way that says, "Donít come up in here". In his middle 50ís he looks like he could go fifteen rounds tomorrow if he had to.
Last night in Kissimmee, Florida at the Silver Spurs Arena, "Big" Floyd worked his magic in the corner of Chad Dawson. At the post fight press conference he showed up in a tailored, designer, pin-stripe suit with a matching polka-dot tie while Dawson wore a T-shirt. Most boxing trainers usually donít show up in designer suits, recite poetry to the media and make proclamations of their own immortality but Floyd Mayweather, Sr. is not most boxing trainers.
Asked what he thought of the big fight on May 5th that he will not be a part of, Floyd, shrewdly, had this to say, "Oscar needs me more than my son does. Freddie Roach is a joke blowing smoke with no hope."
And then the self-proclaimed "greatest boxing trainer in the word" was gone like the wind. After all, "Big" Floyd is a busy man and itís like he told you - he donít work for chits and bits.
TK Stewart works for the Bangor Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org