Mayweather: dysfunctional family life gives me motivation

FLOYD MAYWEATHER says his desire to rise out of the wreckage of a dysfunctional family life has given him the extra hunger required to continue to reign as the greatest boxer in the world.

Behind all his trash-talking tirades and the expletive-ridden rants of his uncle and trainer, Roger, there is a warmer side to Mayweather which suggests his status as boxing’s bad boy is largely promotional pantomime.

But as he happily holds court at length with the world’s media, he leaves little room for doubt that he is still deeply affected by an upbringing which involved a drug addict mother and a father jailed for five years for narcotics offences.

Mayweather’s father remains estranged. During his incarceration, Mayweather hooked up with his uncle, Roger, himself no stranger to controversy, as a one-year ban for invading the ring during his fight with Zab Judah can testify.

But Mayweather believes those experiences in his formative years helped shape a character which craves success in a way Hatton, the product of a relatively serene upbringing on a council estate in Hattersley, will never understand.

Mayweather said: “I don’t think Ricky Hatton’s ever seen his father shot, I don’t think Ricky Hatton’s been on drugs, I don’t think his dad’s been to prison. I come from a neighbourhood where people dying is normal. To come from that life and fight my way to the top, I think that’s one hell of an accomplishment.

“I truly believed in myself when nobody believed in me. I don’t think it’s cocky, it’s just super-confident.

“When everybody was doubting me, I never complained, I never cried. I just kept proving them wrong.”

Mayweather’s rise out of the ghetto is not unusual. Boxing is stuffed with stories of similar triumphs over early adversity, but few have risen so far so fast as Mayweather, whose bank balance will top £50 million (€34m) after Saturday night. Perhaps it has given him the right to appear arrogant, but this week Mayweather’s brash public persona has betrayed glimpses of a devoted family man for whom the “bad boy” image is wearing a little thin.

“Sometimes people portray you the way they want to,” shrugged Mayweather. “The pen and the mouth are strong weapons. Are you judging me by what you see on TV, or what you hear through hearsay, or do you really want to get a chance to see the real Floyd Mayweather?

“They didn’t talk about the 600 families I fed on Thanksgiving, or the toy drive I’m having for families who are less fortunate. They don’t talk about that, do they?

“But I know who I am as a person. If I can afford 10 cars, then I’ll buy 10 cars. Just because I’m fighting a guy who may have one car, does that mean I’m saying I’m better than him? Not at all. I live my life the way I live it, and he lives his life the way he lives it.”

Those are hardly the words of a fighter who deserves to have alienated a large proportion of boxing supporters on both sides of the Atlantic. It is hard to find a taxi driver or croupier in this city who does not admit a desire to see Hatton reign on Saturday night.

At Tuesday’s ‘Grand Arrival’ in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel, Hatton was cheered to the rafters while Mayweather was greeted with a chorus of boos in the city he calls his home.

Hatton said: “If I got a reception like that in Manchester, I’d hang my head in shame.”

Whether or not supporters will pay up to £7,500 for ringside seats or tune into another record-breaking pay-per-view to see him lose, nobody can argue with the numbers.

“I’m money Mayweather,” Mayweather grinned, threatening to flick back into his more familiar public persona. “Hatton’s been here before and he didn’t sell out. He’s selling out now. Why? Because his fans are coming to see me.”

Few would dare make that suggestion to the thousands of Mancunians who continue to drop in from the Las Vegas skies as fight week begins to gather momentum.

Like many of the locals, they are here to see their man shut Mayweather’s big mouth.

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