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Golden Boy vs. Pretty Boy
RICHARD HOFFER
May 07, 2007
THE FIGHT TO SAVE BOXING Can Saturday's showdown make the average fan care about the sport again?
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May 07, 2007

Golden Boy Vs. Pretty Boy

THE FIGHT TO SAVE BOXING Can Saturday's showdown make the average fan care about the sport again?

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The family dynamic got a further tweak last September when Roger was sentenced to six months in prison for decking the grandmother of his child. Now who would train Floyd Jr.? Floyd Sr. was seen around the gym, looking to help, but his son set him straight. "I love my father," Floyd Jr. says, but Floyd Sr. is no longer his trainer. As soon as Roger got out of the can in March, it was back to business, although it can get a little tense with the two brothers eyeing each other from under those furrowed brows.

Floyd Jr. has streamlined his life; he says he hardly ever goes out in full party mode anymore, preferring to stay in his Vegas manse to watch basketball on one or more of his six plasma TVs. He bets the games but says that's his only vice. Well, he likes to shop, too, which is why he needs that $10,000 in his pocket. "You never know when you might need a Brioni shirt," he says. And just as he's likely to roust his crew for a midnight run, he might as easily give them a call to meet him at Niketown or Ruth's Chris. His burn rate is a function of boredom.

MOSTLY, HE likes to be in the gym. Here he is, on what's supposed to be a day off, hitting the mitts with Roger. Maybe the peculiar exhilaration of boxing will no longer appeal to a mass audience. Maybe the sport really will be driven into corners only connoisseurs can find. But its pleasures will be no less intense for all that. Anyway, here's Mayweather at his trade, in a spectacle of syncopation, firing off combinations according to a secret plan, his uncle catching them with his mitts (and the videographer and photographer circling cautiously). There are three-punch combinations, five-, 10-, 20-punch flurries of pinpoint delivery. Floyd steadily increases the pace until the staccato pop-pop-pop of his gloves begins to sound like machinery.

And then I notice that Floyd and Roger are not looking at each other but are staring off into space, as if enjoying a private reverie, or maybe it's a shared disdain for the sport's simplicity. Who can tell with these characters? And then (this is almost impossible to believe) I see that Roger's two-year-old son, Lakai, has crawled into the ring and attached himself to his father's leg. There is no break in the action, which increases, if anything, Roger continuing to catch blows--here, there, everywhere--while lugging his son around on his leg. Nobody's looking at anybody, and the punches are flying, just flying. Finally someone shouts "Time!" and the drill is ended. Everybody claps and whistles.

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