LAS VEGAS –Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero played a lot of roles on back-to-back days facing small mobs armed with cameras, cell phones, and familiar questions. Media days, they’re called. Pack poise and patience. Mayweather and Guerrero brought plenty of both to a task as much a part of the pre-fight ritual as a weigh-in.
There weren’t many hints at what might happen between the welterweights on May 4 at the MGM Grand. A better clue might have been found in a fortune cookie at one of the restaurants that surround the Mayweather Boxing Club in a strip mall that looks like a Vegas re-creation of Beijing’s Forbidden City.
But one role played by each was bigger than all of the rest. Mayweather Jr. and Guerrero were the grown-ups in the room. Somebody has to be, right? It’s an old line heard in every family. It was there, first on Tuesday with Guerrero and again on Wednesday with Mayweather.
Guerrero’s dad and trainer, Ruben, mocked the way his Mayweather counterparts, dad Floyd Sr. and uncle Roger, hold the mitts.
“Patty-cake, patty cake,’’ Ruben said in a dance played to the beat of insults. “They’re a bunch of clowns, a bunch of clowns.’’
Ruben’s circus routine was the flip side to what his son had just done.
Robert talked about dedicating the Mayweather fight to the battle against the blood cancer that threatened wife Casey’s life. He has attached his name to an organization, Be The Match, which connects patients with a donor for life-saving bone marrow. Guerrero even addressed a question about the gun controversy, which has followed him since he was arrested in New York after declaring he had a hand weapon in a lock-box in checked baggage. There are no distractions, said Guerrero, who faces a court date on May 14.
The incident, he said, was behind him “as soon as I got on the plane. …But it’s this: I like to hunt. I’m an outdoors man. I like to hunt and fish.’’
In commitment to a cause and in terms of accountability, Guerrero did the grown-up thing.
The next day, it was Floyd Jr.’s turn. The Mayweathers have become a reality-TV remake of the 1970’s sit-com, All in the Family. The Mayweathers without some dysfunction would be the Bunkers without Archie. In part, it’s why we watch.
A sign of it was there Wednesday when Floyd Sr. showed up. With Roger sitting a few feet away, Floyd Sr., once estranged from his son, talked about his relationship with his brother since Floyd Jr. decided that the two would work his corner.
“So-so,’’ said Floyd Sr., who also asked a handful of reporters to tell Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer to set up a parking-lot fight with Ruben Guerrero. “The only thing I’m saying is this: Sometimes, he comes to the gym and we don’t even speak. I’ll sit right there and he walks right past me. We’re family, man. Speak. That’s what I do. When I come in, I got manners and very good manners. When somebody come by you and you don’t speak? I mean come on, man. It ain’t cool, whether it’s family or just another person.’’
As Floyd Sr., talked, his son interrupted some workout drills, leaned over the ropes and lectured his dad. Floyd Jr. sounded like a stern father.
“We talked about that,’’ Floyd Jr. said to his dad in a pointed warning about off-the-cuff sessions with reporters, even on a day when everything was supposed to be on the record. “It’s about the fighters.’’
There’s talk that Floyd Jr. has displayed some new found maturity since his release from jail after nearly a three-month stretch for domestic abuse last summer. Even Floyd Sr. has noticed.
“He’s more disciplined,’’ Floyd Sr. said. “I’m sure jail had a lot to do with it. When he was in jail, he had lot of time to think about a lot of things.’’
Despite their well-chronicled blow-ups, Floyd Jr. has always thought about his father. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Floyd Jr. agonized about his dad, who was in federal prison for drug-trafficking. He said he wrote then-President Bill Clinton, asking that his dad be pardoned. He begged the media to help him. He was a 19-year-old kid desperate to be with his father. Seventeen years later, the 36-year-old man, a father himself, has finally re-united with him, although the roles are reversed. The son has become the family’s patriarch
“My dad is a wizard,’’ he said Wednesday in the final interview after an evening full of them.
Part of that wizardry might be in learning how to work and live with his brother, whose struggle with diabetes led to the reunion with his son. There’s a sense that Floyd Jr. will demand that the two get along. It as if the son from a broken family is determined to make everything whole.
“We’ve got trainer No. 1, which is my dad,’’ he said. “We’ve got trainer No. 2, which is my uncle.’’
It’s easy to pick a winner on May 4. A grown-up is a sure thing.