Floyd Jr was just 10 months old, not even walking yet, but his father had been showing him how to hold his hands in a boxing position, a skill young Floyd would learn quickly.
“One day I came into the room and he’s laying back on the pillow doing just what I was showing him,” Mayweather Sr said. “I said: ‘This is it. He’s going to be a fighter.’”
It wasn’t long after that when the two had another kind of father-son moment. This one, too, lives in Mayweather family lore, but for a different reason.
Floyd Sr was facing the wrong end of a shotgun, aimed at him by his brother-in-law during a dispute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mayweather was holding his year-old son and, like the boxer he was, was thinking on his feet.
“I wasn’t going to put that baby down,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2012. “I didn’t want to die. It wasn’t about putting my son in the line of fire. I knew he wouldn’t shoot the baby. So he took the gun off my face, lowered it to my leg and bam.”
The shotgun blast destroyed most of Mayweather’s left calf, and pretty much ended his career as a welterweight contender. He would fight on, but his mark in boxing would end up being made in other ways.
Floyd Sr isn’t exactly the guiding force behind the fighter who will make a record purse of some $180m or more to fight Manny Pacquiao.
He has spent long stretches of time estranged from his son, and was in prison on a drug conviction when Floyd Jr fought in the 1996 Olympics before turning professional.
However, he’s the trainer who helped teach his son defence and has stressed it for every fight.
He’ll be in the corner next week at the MGM Grand arena, confident as ever in the abilities of a fighter who was throwing punches before he learned to walk.
Just another opponent. Just another fight.
“Ain’t nothing different for this fight,” Floyd Sr said. “We’re just fighting an opponent. We’re not fighting Cassius Clay. We’re fighting an ordinary guy.”
If this is the new normal for the Mayweathers, it wasn’t always that way. The two publicly feuded for more than a decade and were so much at odds in 2007 that Floyd Sr nearly took a job training Oscar De La Hoya against his son in the fight that made Floyd Jr a household name.
However, he’s replaced his brother Roger for Mayweather’s last four fights, a reconciliation the younger Mayweather sought, partly because he felt he got hit with too many shots against Miguel Cotto and wanted his father’s help in slipping punches. They’ve also patched up things outside the ring, at least for now.
“I probably wouldn’t be a fighter if it wasn’t for my father,” Mayweather said. “As long as he knows I love him and I went out there and when I fought I didn’t just fight for myself, I done it for the both of us. I think he should be happy with that.”
Meanwhile Kenny Bayless has been appointed referee for the superfight between Mayweather and Pacquiao. Bayless, a veteran of more than 100 title contests, has overseen five of Mayweather’s bouts and has been present seven times with Pacquiao.
The 64-year-old Nevada resident was referee for their points victories over Shane Mosley, one of the rivals’ five common foes.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) have also appointed a trio of American judges for the clash at the MGM Grand in Dave Moretti and Burt Clements of Nevada and Glenn Feldman of Connecticut.
“Kenny knows the pressure, stress and responsibility,” NSAC director Robert Bennett said.
“He’s efficient and effective and has proven to be successful over a number of years, working in Las Vegas and other parts of the world. He’s one of the best referees in the world.”
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach gave his backing to the appointment of Bayless.
“Kenny Bayless is the best referee out there. I think he’s going to give us a fair fight,” Roach said.