By Chris Robinson
These days trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. has been spending a lot of time at Johnny Tocco's Ring Side Gym on the east side of Las Vegas, working with a select group of fighters including junior lightweight contender Mickey Bey Jr., welterweight hopeful Lanardo Tyner, and standout amateur Kevin Newman. With his brother Jeff out of town and in Panama as he helps Celestino Caballero ready for his July 2nd shot at WBA featherweight champion Jonathan Barros, Floyd Sr. has stepped up to help Bey and Newman, two fighters he had worked with previously.
Despite a lung disease called sarcoidosis that has admittedly affected his health in recent years, Mayweather was pretty lively as he oversaw the duties of the three fighters and was more than happy to take a few minutes of his time afterwards to talk some boxing. At the moment people are still buzzing over the news of Mayweather's son Floyd Jr. and his recent announcement that he will be facing off with WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz on September 17th.
It was only natural for me to get Floyd's take on the matchup and he offered up a few forewarnings of his own, including his suspicions about Ortiz having previously worked with Manny Pacquiao out in Los Angeles.
"My thing is, and I would have to speak on that," said Floyd. "I know he's been around [Freddie] Roach's camp, but like I said, I feel that if Lil' Floyd will make them all take the Olympic tests, that's what they need. Because there's too much sh*t going on now. Too much bullsh*t going on now and it aint doing nothing but ruining boxing, period. Believe it or not, boxing is on its way out. Because of things like this. It's things like this that are ruining boxing."
Mayweather of course is referring to his belief that some of today's crop of fighters are using performance-enhancing drugs to boost their accomplishments in the ring. Floyd Jr. and Pacquiao saw the first round of negotiations for a possible encounter between them fall apart because of an indifference over Olympic-style drug testing and it is an issue that the elder Mayweather has never let up on.
But while everyone is entitled to their own opinion I tried to focus more on Floyd's impression of Ortiz as a fighter, including his upset over Andre Berto this past April.
"I got a chance to see a little of that," Sr. continued. "From what I've seen though, I see that Victor Ortiz is an aggressive young fighter, he's ten years Lil' Floyd's junior. Regardless to the style of fighting that he has, he's a left-hander and [Floyd] would do better with a right-hander but it doesn't make a difference; Lil' Floyd knows exactly what to do with Ortiz. He has too much knowledge up here. Where Ortiz doesn't really have."
Continuing further, the only real concern that Floyd Sr. seemed to hint at was over his son's recent inactivity, as he will have been out of the ring for over sixteen months by the time the Ortiz fight goes down.
"I do still believe that my son should stay more active or get out of the game, because I'm just saying that I don't care who you is, if you aren't being sharp, you lose that much sharpness and it can make a big difference. Of course if he aint fought as long as he has fought, he could have lost something. I don't care who you are; Mayweather, Cassius Clay or whoever.
"Sometimes when you lose things like that you will fight a guy like Ortiz who may cause you a problem where he normally wouldn't be a problem at all. But now all of a sudden he's a problem. Things happen. If you are a fighter you gotta keep yourself sharp. It's just like when people say 'tune up'. You need a tune up, whoever you are. It's just like car, there might be something wrong with it, it might be leaking oil, or whatever it is. It needs a tune up. You've got to stay tuned up all the time for whatever race or whatever it is you might be doing."
Reasonable thoughts from Papa Floyd, a man whose relationship with his son has often been checkered. Floyd will never shy away from his feelings towards his own child but he knows there is a definite sense of danger attached to his next ring endeavor.
"With my son, I feel that he's a great fighter. I feel that he's been the best fighter over the last ten or eleven years. He's still the best fighter today I belive. But I don't care who you are, how great you think you are, something can always go wrong."