The question of the day to Floyd Mayweather Jr. was: Who is his main trainer?
“Why put a label on it?” Mayweather Jr. advisor Leonard Ellerbe asked.
“I’m not assistant anything,” Mayweather Jr.’s uncle and longtime trainer, Roger Mayweather, said. “I train my nephew.”
Mayweather Jr. said: “We’re a family. We go through a lot of life. At the end of the day, he’s my father. My dad’s going to work my corner.”
When the 43-0 fighter completed training at his Las Vegas gym Tuesday night in preparation for his May 4 welterweight title defense against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand, he repeated his change from uncle to father to a television interviewer.
Mayweather Jr. explained Tuesday that due to what he considered excessive punishment received in his most recent bout – a May 2012 unanimous-decision victory over Miguel Cotto – he wanted to reunite with the man who taught him to box in the first place.
“A fighter has to be ready,” Mayweather Jr. said. “The trainer gives his thoughts about the best game plan. It’s then up to the fighter to execute.”
Mayweather Sr. said he’s reemphasized the staple of his son’s unbeaten career: defense.
“The less punches you take, the longer your career lasts,” Mayweather Sr. said as his son sweated through a workout that included jumping rope with ankle weights on.
“You build the legs up and dance, dance, dance for as long as you can to not get hit,” Mayweather Sr. said. “It’s not slugging. It’s boxing. Yes, he’s older,” now 36, “but he’ll still find a way out. He still wants to find a way to not absorb those punches. His feet will be light.”
Mayweather Sr. was blunt in assessing his son’s age.
“We’re all human beings, we get older,” he said. “You aren’t going to win now only using your body. You’ve got to use your mind. He can do that and I can help him.
“You’ve got two genuine masters here. You can’t miss.”
That enthusiasm conflicted with Roger Mayweather’s mood.
In an awkward moment, Roger Mayweather was among a crowd of Mayweather’s team told to remain silent during a Mayweather Jr. television interview in which he was pressed to point out who his lead trainer was. He repeated what he told The Times earlier in the day, and what he announced on Twitter in February: It was his father.
Roger Mayweather’s head slumped to his chest as he sat on a chair. Although he said he’s “fine,” family members have been concerned with Roger Mayweather’s battle with what they say are diabetes effects.
“I’m not saying get rid of Roger, I never told my son that, but he has slowed down, and there’s one thing for sure: I’m the fastest trainer in here and around the world, period,” Mayweather Sr. said.
As the Mayweather Jr. television interview continued, Roger Mayweather got up to exit the gym.
“I gotta get out of here,” he said.
But he was told by a publicist he couldn’t open a door to exit because the noise on the other side would effect the television sound. Awkwardly, he retreated to his seat.
Roger Mayweather helped his nephew hit the mitts Tuesday and did little more as Mayweather Sr. oversaw his son’s conditioning and heavy bag punching.
“Floyd knows who’s trained him in his biggest fights, nobody but me,” Roger Mayweather said. “It is what it is.”