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Brawl in the family

Floyd Mayweather Jr. bobs on amid bickering brothers.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 4, 2007


That Floyd Mayweather Jr. grew up in a house that seems to define dysfunctional is nothing new for the sport of boxing.

That his father did time for selling cocaine or his mother had her battles with drugs or his uncle recently completed a short stint in the big house is standard fare in his line of work.

That he survives - even thrives - in this type of atmosphere, almost reveling in it, is remarkable.

"I wouldn't say that Floyd thrives in it, but he certainly doesn't hide from it, " said Rick Bernstein, HBO's executive sports producer. "It's nothing he shies away from. Most athletes would never put that out there. But it has made for good TV."

As the world awaits Saturday's monster 154-pound showdown between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya, it has been shaking its head at the undercard of Mayweather-vs.-Mayweather-vs.-Mayweather, presented weekly on HBO's 24/7 series used to hype the fight.

More than just a series of 30-minute training montages, 24/7 has provided a peek into the swirling world around Mayweather.

From the start, he has said he is "keeping it real, " and that De La Hoya is a prepackaged bundle of phony.

So what, then, that dad and uncle and mother and a myriad of friends and celebrities keep the Mayweather camp buzzing, as long as the star keeps smiling.

"We've got a wild, crazy exciting family, " Floyd Jr., 30, told the Los Angeles Times.

Floyd Sr. taught his son to fight from birth, sharing what he learned as a fighter himself. In 1993, he was busted for cocaine trafficking. With his dad sitting in a prison cell, Floyd Jr. won a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The two reunited for his professional career, but that lasted just eight fights.

In 2000, Floyd Jr. replaced his dad with Roger, his uncle and Floyd Sr.'s brother.

De La Hoya, then, can take credit for bringing the family back together. When Saturday's fight was arranged, Floyd Sr. was De La Hoya's trainer. For $2-million, he said, he would show De La Hoya, 34, how to beat his own son.

De La Hoya declined. The irony - that there was a price his own father would have accepted - was lost on Floyd Jr., who took Floyd Sr. back.

Maybe he needed more friction, more turmoil, more controversy. Because if there was anyone who has had a worse relationship with his father than him, it was Roger.

"He can be there, he can be at home in rocking chair, I don't give a expletive, " cried Uncle Roger, 46.

Asked if Floyd Sr. was returning to the corner and offering advice, Roger, a former two-time world champion, snapped, "I had way more fights than my brother, so why do I need to get my brother's opinion about how to beat De La Hoya when I trained Floyd to beat the last 37?"

While the adults fought, the kid trained for the biggest fight of his life. But the whole one-big-happy-family thing couldn't last.

In the second episode of 24/7, Floyd Jr. lamented his father's tough love and pledged his loyalty to his uncle. Floyd Sr. was stung. It didn't take him long to pack up and head out again.

He'll attend the fight with tickets given to him by De La Hoya.

John C. Cotey can be reached at (727) 869-6261 or johncotey@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

 

Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather

When/where: 9 p.m. Saturday; MGM Grand, Las Vegas

TV: HBO pay-per-view, $54.95

At stake: The WBC 154-pound title