Text and photos by Chris Robinson
I have to admit that the atmosphere inside of Floyd Mayweather’s personal gym leading up to his May 5th fight with Miguel Cotto has been pretty special.
The Mayweather Boxing Club always heats up whenever Floyd has a fight lined up and everybody in the building has been soaking it up thus far, including the fighters themselves.
Tuesday afternoon marked another memorable day that I soon won’t forget.
I hadn’t planned on stopping by the gym on this day but after corresponding with undefeated super middleweight prospect Badou Jack late Monday night I was informed that he was to be sparring with former title challenger Andre Dirrell at 3:30 PM the next day. Upon hearing the news I made it a point to swing by the gym to check it out.
Trained by the respected Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Jack (10-0, 8 KO’s) is a physically imposing fighter who never stops coming. Originally hailing from Sweden, Jack has been adapting to life in Las Vegas for over a year now and while he has gotten some fine work in around the city, I knew that a pairing with Dirrell (20-1, 14 KO’s) represented a completely different test.
Dirrell is a longtime fixture to the Mayweather Boxing Club and he has been so taken aback by the ambience inside of Mayweather’s latest camp that he has decided to stick around longer than expected to get some work in. And while the Dirrell-Jack sparring was pretty entertaining, what took place beforehand was just as lively.
The sparring took place a little later than expected and by that time the gym was packed, with Mayweather and his team, including rapper and good friend 50 Cent, having settled in to check out the action.
“He’s over here talking sh*t!” 50 Cent would yell to Dirrell as he stood next to and pointed at Jack in an obvious attempt to get things riled up. The gym than erupted with all kinds of dialogue as people also began banging on the ring matt to make for a more chaotic scene.
“You’re getting in the doghouse today!” Mayweather would then exclaim to Jack, eliciting an equally great response from those in attendance. It was definitely a hyped scene.
To his credit, Jack simply took everything in stride and grinned, knowing fully well that some hard work was awaiting him.
Jack and Dirrell went at it for four rounds and Jack performed well early on, as he attempted to rush in and work the body. The more-experienced Dirrell was never shook, and took his time picking his shots and countering his onrushing foe.
Those watching from ringside included Cuban stalwart Yuriorkis Gamboa, former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, junior middleweight contender Ishe Smith, outspoken trainer Roger Mayweather, Floyd’s core group of sparring partners, and several others. Throughout the session there was a mixture of hollering, cheering, and trash-talking coming from various faces ringside.
In the final two rounds, Dirrell appeared to take control, tagging Jack with blazing shots from all angles. Jack took everything that was given to him but Dirrell’s fists are so quick that he can be a handful for anyone near his weight class.
When the session was over, some more sparring took place as undefeated local Lanell Bellows pounded on a non-descript and presumably out of shape Cuban youngster while bantamweight prospect Alexis Santiago went at it with junior lightweight hopeful Pedro Toledo.
After getting his hands wrapped by cut man Rafael Garcia, Mayweather took to the ring where he hit the mitts with his Uncle Roger while pounding away with exuberance to the body with Nate Jones. Meanwhile, in the other ring, Ishe Smith could be found slugging it out with Cuban-American amateur Luis Arias.
The fight is a month away but Mayweather already looks to be close to prime fighting shape and the aura inside of the club is something that comes with only the highest level of training camps.
For images of the sparring session between Andre Dirrell and Badou Jack, including bonus shots of Ishe Smith, Roger Mayweather, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Floyd’s sparring partners, and much more, please visit the slideshow.