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Mayweather thanks father as he reflects on Hall of Fame career

Floyd Mayweather wasn’t asked once about his father and trainer, Floyd Sr., during his post fight interview last month after defeating Conor McGregor.

The older Mayweather, known for providing juicy headlines, hardly came up during fight week. It was as if everyone forgot the legendary boxer had a trainer or needed one to fight the UFC superstar making his boxing debut.

But a grateful Mayweather made sure to give his father credit for his 50th victory every chance he got.

Mayweather, who returned from a two-year layoff, echoed what his father told him in the corner when he wasn’t able to knock out McGregor earlier than planned. Mayweather settled for a 10th-round technical knockout.

“Me and my dad were able to have a father-son talk, and my dad was in the corner and he wanted more out of me,” Mayweather said.

There was a time when Mayweather wouldn’t talk to his father outside of the ring. In fact, for seven years the two didn’t speak as a young Mayweather rose to boxing fame.

“As I got older me and my dad were able to talk,” Mayweather said. “It was different than when I was 21 and now that I’m 40. Me and my father, we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we always get great results and that’s what it’s about.”

It didn’t matter if the question was about beating McGregor or retirement — Mayweather often went back to thanking his father and was appreciative of the life lessons he endured growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mayweather reflected on the five years his dad was locked up in a prison for drug trafficking. A strict Mayweather Sr. taught his son how to box at an early age, but wasn’t around for him when a teenaged Mayweather was winning Golden Gloves tournaments or making the U.S. Olympic team.

Mayweather Sr. was sitting in a tiny cell when Floyd Jr. started his professional career. That void was the beginning of a long rift between the father and son.

The younger Mayweather sounded like a man ready to forgive, forget and put family first as he capped off a stellar 21-year career in the ring.

“You won’t see me anymore, so any guy that’s calling me out, forget it,” said Mayweather about retiring for good. “I’m OK. I had a tremendous career.”

Mayweather’s last hurrah is expected to put him over $1 billion in career earnings. Mayweather received a lot of that money because of his marketing prowess, but he understands without his father’s early guidance that money probably wouldn’t be in his bank account.

The former five-division champion said he wants to train fighters and help trainers teach them what he learned.

“I just want to help other trainers make other fighters better,” Mayweather said. “Not just becoming a star in the ring but outside. A lot of fighters think, ‘Oh, I’m undefeated and a knockout puncher. That makes me a superstar.’ It takes more than that.

“A lot of work on the outside, and surround yourself with the right team to become a superstar.”

Mayweather has the perfect 50-0 record (27 knockouts), but he wasn’t perfect on his path to superstardom.

Here’s a look back at how Mayweather became arguably the best fighter of his generation and one of the richest athletes ever.

Attracted to the money

Mayweather had no intentions of leaving his home in Michigan, but when his uncle, Roger, took over as trainer, Mayweather decided to follow him to Las Vegas.

That’s where Mayweather got his first taste of the big bucks.

Mayweather recalled seeing a check for $100,000 during his meeting with Top Rank two decades ago. The future star didn’t hesitate to sign with Bob Arum’s promotion company.

“Damn, I’ve never seen that many zeroes in my life,” Mayweather said. “I come from poverty. I come from the inner city. The check was only $100,000 but to me it seemed like $100 million.

“I was a millionaire by 21. But that didn’t stop me from working hard in the gym.”

Mayweather made his real money by perfecting his craft in the gym. He quickly shot up pound-for-pound rankings with signature wins over Genaro Hernandez, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo and Arturo Gatti.

The money and accolades were nice, but Mayweather wanted what Oscar De La Hoya had — and the Golden Boy had it all.

“I knew me and Oscar would eventually fight, but Top Rank didn’t want that fight to happen because at that particular time Oscar was their No. 1 fighter,” Mayweather said.

Things drastically picked up for Mayweather when he bought out his Top Rank contract and started Mayweather Promotions a decade ago. It was a big gamble for Mayweather, who turned down a career-high $8 million payday at the time to become a free agent.

“He’s a genius,” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said about Mayweather. “It’s the biggest boss move ever in the history of sports and entertainment for him to leave Top Rank. The biggest boss move ever!”

The fight between Mayweather and De La Hoya finally happened on May 5, 2007 at the MGM Grand. It’s the fight that catapulted Mayweather to superstardom.

Mayweather received $25 million for beating De La Hoya. The purses only got bigger from there as Mayweather became the most hated figure in boxing.

Many paid to watch Mayweather lose, but others jumped on The Money Team train. Mayweather hit the jackpot when he left long-time partner HBO for Showtime in 2013. The six-fight deal was called the the richest individual contract for an athlete ever.

“What appealed him to come to Showtime was our willingness to collaborate and get him involved with everything,” said Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president for Showtime. “He had opinions on 30-second commercials for the pay-per-view. He had opinions and gave feedback during photoshoots, commercial shooting, whether it was notes to the script or different angles on the photograph set-ups that we did.”

Mayweather set that bar very high when he made more than $250 million for fighting Manny Pacquiao in 2015. Somehow, Mayweather might have surpassed that with the McGregor bout; the undefeated boxer predicted he’ll make $350 million.

“I thought Floyd was staying retired after the Andre Berto fight,” Espinoza said. “It took a once-in-a-lifetime lighting strike of a business opportunity to draw him out. You don’t get two of those in a lifetime.”

Legacy in the ring

Not many doubt Mayweather is the best fighter of his generation and possibly the best defensive boxer to ever enter a ring.

But Mayweather’s critics will point to him hand-picking his opponents and fighting Pacquiao five years too late.

“The timing of when he fought his opponents will be the criticism for Floyd,” said Al Bernstein, a boxing expert for Showtime. “It might not have been appropriate to fight the older fighters when he did. But Floyd also fought some talented fighters when he was older.”

According to Showtime, Mayweather fought 27 former or current champions during his career. The list includes Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

“Somebody 15 to 20 years from now that looks at that list is going to say, ‘Boy, he fought a lot of champions,” Bernstein said.

Mayweather was always one step ahead of his opponents with his tactical defensive moves. Bernstein doesn’t rank Mayweather as the best defensive fighter of all time — that honor belongs to Pernell Whitaker, he said — but Bernstein was amazed at how Mayweather took away his opponents’ strengths.

“What fascinated me the most about (Mayweather) is every fight was essentially the same,” Bernstein said. “He would take two to three rounds to figure out what his opponent could do. Then take over from there.”

Not many fans were happy with Mayweather’s slow approach in the ring. Others protested Mayweather’s bouts because of his history with domestic violence.

Ellerbe said Mayweather learned from his mistakes.

“You guys don’t know what he does away from the cameras,” Ellerbe said. “He does a lot for his community and fans.”

Mayweather stopped providing outlandish quotes toward the end of his career, but the trash-talking “Money May” came back one last time, and delivered his first knockout win in six years against McGregor.

“I had some great fights, I had some boring fights, but at the end of the day, I will always be remembered as a winner,” Mayweather said.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

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