In the world of professional wrestling, as in boxing, the roles of the fighters are clearly defined.
Typically, one of the fighters is characterised as the ‘face’, who plays the part of the crowd favourite, while his opponent is cast as the ‘heel’, who strives to attract the ire of fight fans and interest among casual observers.
Applying this time-honoured template to last night’s long-overdue bout between the two biggest names in boxing, which saw #Floyd #Mayweather Jr box his way to a functional points victory against Manny Pacquiao, there is no doubt as to which fighter was cast in which role.
However, in this instance, the hype and bluster was anything but WWE-style marketing.
But in order to understand the origins of the self-styled Money Man’spersona, it’s necessary to go back to his humble begins in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he developed his peerless skills and also his deep-rooted personal frailties.
Born into a boxing-mad family in February 1974, Mayweather was destined for great things from a tender age, with his two uncles, Roger and Jeff, both becoming world champion fighters, while his father – and biggest influence – was afforded the chance to fight (but ultimately lose to) ring legend Ray Leonard during the course of his career.
The relationship between Floyd Jr – whose mother was a drug addict – and his father, Floyd Sr, has shaped every aspect of the younger man’s life.
However, both fighters – who’ve endured a fractious relationship over the years, which has included lengthy periods of estrangement – tell dramatically different versions of Floyd Jr’s early years.
According to the 38-year-old champion, his father’s interest in his son started and ended with his obsession for boxing.
“I don’t remember him ever taking me anywhere or doing anything that a father would do with a son, going to the park or to the movies or to get ice cream,” Floyd Jr has said.
But Floyd Sr – whose career as a welterweight was derailed when he was shot in the leg by his son’s maternal uncle – has claimed his disciplined, boxing-orientated approach to parenting has moulded his son into the landmark talent he’s become. In his own mind, perhaps, Floyd Sr is a real-life Victor Frankenstein, whose created an athlete boasting an unblemished record since turning pro in 1996.
Critically, the father-son combination was put on hold in the early 1990s, when Floyd Sr was jailed for violating drug trafficking laws.
In his father’s absence, Floyd Jr won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics, turned pro the same year and won his first world title within two years of entering the professional ranks. He has not looked back since.
His extraordinary technical and physical gifts, allied to great matchmaking by his all-powerful advisor Al Haymon, have taken him to the top of boxing’s food chain. Yet the turbulent relationship with his father, and the flagrant need to impress him, has cast a large and painful shadow over Floyd’s career.
Running parallel to Money May’s career success and ever-increasing personal fortune has been the father-of-four’s persistent trouble with the law.
In late 2011, a judge sentenced Mayweather to serve 90 days in county #jail for battery upon Josie Harris, his former girlfriend and mother of three of his four children. He served two months in jail.
The assault was witnessed by the couple’s oldest son, Koraun, who alerted the police to his mother’s strife and has subsequently described his father – and the world’s best-paid athlete – as a “coward”.
In total, there have been seven alleged assaults Mayweather has committed against five different women that resulted in him being arrested or issued a citation.
Sadly, such realities tend to get obscured in the age of social media, when sports fans are wowed by Mayweather’s vulgar displays of wealthand foul-mouthed rants against would-be opponents.
And on Saturday night in Sin City, Money Mayweather reprised this all-too-familiar role of boxing’s bad guy.
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