Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz a fight in, out of ring
LAS VEGAS — Even by boxing’s subterranean standards, there has never been a prize fight with more dysfunctional family tinges to it than Saturday night’s WBC welterweight title bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr
and Victor Ortiz
Photo by AP
FIGHTING WORDS: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) and Victor Ortiz chat while posing for a photo during yesterday’s press conference in Las Vegas.
The fighters hate their fathers. The fathers hate their sons. The trainers hate their brothers, all of whom trained the other’s fighter at one point or another. And you wonder why these guys fight for a living?
They fight for respect. They fight claiming lack of respect. They fight over money. They fight over nothing.
At the final press conference in the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre yesterday, Mayweather launched the latest salvo in what has become a fray between fractured families when he said he would be led into the ring by Robert Garcia, estranged brother of Ortiz’ trainer Danny, and Brandon Rios, a one-time friend of Ortiz’ in Garden City, Kan., where Ortiz grew up having been abandoned first by his mother and later by a father he has nothing to say to but “goodbye.’’
It was gamesmanship at its best but compassion at its worst when Mayweather added, “I know the truth. His father didn’t leave him. I do my homework. All he says is, ‘Dude, I grew up with nothing.’ One minute he wants to be a tough guy. Next minute he wants you to feel sorry for him.’’
Frankly, hearing their family stories and watching their family feuds if you don’t feel sorry for them you must have been raised by wolves. Boxing is known as the hurt business, but everyone involved in this seems to have been hurt worse by their families than by anything boxing could ever do for them.
While it was Floyd Sr. who started his son in boxing when he was 8, he ended up in prison when Little Floyd was 16 and ever since there has been an undercurrent of jealousy rather than pride in what the son has accomplished without him.
The winner of world titles in five weight classes and a two-time Fighter of the Year, Mayweather spent the last 18 years being trained by his uncle, former world champion Roger Mayweather, who has a difficult relationship of his own with Floyd Sr. That splintered family history spilled over once again during the first episode of HBO’s four-part reality-TV infomercial, “24/7.’’
What began as a rhetorical debate about the skills of two female fighters descended into an expletive-laden screaming match in which father and son cursed and threatened each other until the son ordered the father out of his gym after denigrating his limited skills as a fighter and questioned his credentials as a trainer.
The father lunged at the son, demanding “You throw me out, punk! You’ll be 41-1! Throw me out (expletive)!’’
Earlier in the show, Floyd Sr. had claimed, “See I’m the one that taught them. . . . I was the first (Mayweather) to ever do this. . . . If he wins, I win. His name is Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. I’m Senior.’’
He did not say it with pride in his son. He said it as a way of stealing from him credit for his ring accomplishments.
The two have not spoken since, nor does Ortiz share any intimate moments with his dad. So when Mayweather challenged Ortiz’ story of boyhood abandonment yesterday, claiming he’d been told it was untrue by Robert Garcia himself, the shock and pain on the 24-year-old Oritz’ face was clear.
“I know the real story,’’ Ortiz snapped later. “I don’t need to hear it from him.’’
During the same promo show, Ortiz had spoken of the last time he’d seen his father. After an unpleasant exchange, the father mockingly said he took pride seeing his last name tattooed across his son’s back. Next day the son had the tattoo obliterated.
Father and son turmoil in boxing is long standing, but the family feud between the Garcias has added a second level of pain to this fractured event. Robert Garcia is the one who discovered Ortiz at an amateur tournament and eventually brought him to Oxnard, Calif., to live with him and train. Initially it worked, but over time Ortiz began to believe his trainer had grown too negative about his prospects and had lost faith in him.
This led Ortiz to approach Danny. When Robert learned of their pairing, an awkward falling out developed that led the brothers to no longer speak. What compounds their family feud is that they share not only two parents but also one fence that separates their yards.
Yesterday soft-spoken Danny Garcia said, “I love my brother’’ and then publicly thanked Mayweather for paying to bring him to the fight. “It will be a good opportunity for he and I to start talking again.’’
The odds on that may be longer than the 11-2 odds on Ortiz beating Mayweather or the 100-1 odds that their dads will ever be named Father of the Year. Welcome to the spawning ground of champions, a place where dysfunction has a function if only to produce fierce warriors from fragile families.
By Ron Borges - firstname.lastname@example.org