By Chris Robinson
At the moment, well-respected trainer Jeff Mayweather is miles away from his Las Vegas bases, tucked into life in Panama City as he trains former champion Celestino Caballero for a life-or-death title shot against WBA featherweight champion Jonathan Barros. This marks Mayweather's third camp with Caballero, as they will be looking to upend Barros in his native Argentina on June 18th.
Caballero's last fight was a shocking upset as he was nipped via split decision by awkward boxer-puncher Jason Litzau over ten rounds this past November inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That fight has left many insiders whispering that perhaps this is the end of the line for the 34-year old Caballero, who looked sluggish and uneasy against Litzau.
Giving his take on the situation, Mayweather has no time for negativity and offers up his explanation as to why Caballero wasn't himself that night.
"I know that training is going great," Mayweather told me to open up our conversation. "Celestino's weight is great, he's punching extremely hard. My most important thing is to not put too much wear and tear on his legs because he's one of the rare fighters that without his legs he's a little better than average fighter but with his legs he becomes an exceptional fighter. At 126 no one can beat him when they are firmly under him."
This actually marks Mayweather's second visit to Panama, as he was with Caballero for ten days in the first quarter of 2010 prior to his victory over Indonesia's Daud Yordan. Immersing himself in a completely new world, I asked Mayweather what life is like down in his South American hot spot.
"What makes Panama unique to me is that the place is so festive," Mayweather said. "It's like going to Venice Beach everyday. There's always something going on. I think what stands out more than anything to me is the people drive so fast down here and a red light or stop sign means nothing so I have to be very careful crossing the street."
Mayweather is the type of trainer who becomes vested in his duties as a trainer and he realizes the importance of Caballero's fight. But when not training his jovial charge he has been doing his best to keep in touch with his friends back home in an effort to share his latest life journey with everyone.
"I have really been doing my best to share my experience with all my Facebook friends and family," Mayweather continued. "I have been posting videos almost everyday, allowing people to see Panama through my eyes. Kind of like a low budget version of 24/7. The people seem to love it and have stayed on board for the ride. I've also been reading a book that was written by niece, Janelle Mayweather, a great book about her struggles and her rise above adversity, from being a teen Mom to becoming a successful businesswoman and a college graduate. The book is titled Judge Not."
Mayweather's Spanish isn't exactly fluent but he has still found a way to connect with the people in Panama. Simply by being associated with Caballero he has noticed just how supportive those around him are.
As a trainer Mayweather is simply living in the moment but you can tell how precious his latest excursion is to him.
"The people here respect me for what I do for their champion so it's a good thing, even if I don't understand the language. They only know one way how to say 'Mayweather' so I constantly hear my name mentioned and the people come to me and shake my hand or take pictures so it's a good thing. The people here love Celestino, they embrace him everywhere he goes and he gives the love right back to them. They have fully embraced me as well; they have adopted me and thanked me for training their champion. I can't complain, I have received a very warm welcome here."