Through ups and downs, fathers helped sons to world titles

Usually, it doesn’t work out well — for either the son or the father. Mostly for the father.

It didn’t work for Oscar De La Hoya. Or for Shane Mosley. Ditto for Zab Judah. And Buster Douglas. And Sean O’Grady.

Thousands of dads train their kids to fight, strapping on a pair of oversized boxing gloves and showing them the rudiments of the sport in the garage, the backyard or a gym. From that, a handful have the aptitude to take their sons to the professional level. And from that number, a select few are able to guide their prodigy to a world title.

Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Ruben Guerrero have more in common than you might think. Neither was a perfect dad. But both have managed to connect with their sons through boxing, and both have been in their kid’s corner when each became a world champion.

Both will be working Saturday when Floyd Mayweather Jr. (43-0, 26 knockouts) and Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) meet at the MGM Grand Garden for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight title. Both believe they are great trainers, and their sons believe in them, which is the most important thing.

“My father has done a hell of a job getting me ready for this fight,” said Mayweather, who will be making his inaugural appearance on Showtime pay per view. “We’ve had our disagreements in the past. But he’s my trainer now, and the fighter always has to listen to the trainer.

“It’s great to have another set of eyes in the gym. It’s good to have someone tell you when you make a mistake or see something you don’t.”

Guerrero said he has never had a cross word for his father, never tried to distance himself from him or berate him the way Mayweather has done with his dad.

“I would never talk that way to my father,” Guerrero said. “I respect him, and I trust him. I know he has always had my best interests at heart.”

Ruben Guerrero, 54, had taken himself out of the equation when it came to training his son earlier in his career. He allowed Joe Goosen and later John Bray to train Robert. Both tried to make Robert a power puncher rather than build around his immense boxing skills.

“They tried to make Robert into something he’s not,” Ruben said. “But I knew better. I know my son. I know his body. And the best way for him to get here was by using his skills.”

Since Ruben regained total control in 2006, Robert has developed his skills as well as his power to become a six-time world titleholder in four weight divisions.

“My dad knows boxing,” Robert Guerrero said. “He knows how to spot weaknesses in other fighters and to teach. I’m lucky to have him in my corner.

“But the best thing about working with my dad is how it brought us closer together. We respect each other as men, and I know he always has my back and loves me no matter what.”

Floyd Mayweather Sr., 60, also knows boxing. He fought professionally, and he taught his son the sport as a toddler, standing him on a chair to hit the speed bag. By the time Mayweather Jr. was a teenager, he was winning national Golden Gloves titles and beating grown men on his way to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he won a bronze medal.

“I got my son started in boxing,” Mayweather Sr. said. “Who knows him better than me?”

The elder Mayweather trained his son from 1996, the year he turned pro, to 2000, when he was fired after a falling out between the two. The rift was so bad that Floyd Jr. evicted his father from his home, took his car away and banished him from his gym.

Floyd Jr. then hired his father’s younger brother, Roger Mayweather, as his trainer, and Roger has served in that capacity since then.

But now, at age 36, Floyd Jr. is seeking a better relationship with his father, and they appear to have reconciled — for now, anyway.

For the Guerrero fight, Mayweather was trained by Floyd Sr. and Roger. The father focused on strategy and a game plan, and the uncle’s responsibility was on the pad work.

On Saturday, however, only Floyd Sr. will be in the corner.

“My dad is a boxing legend,” said Mayweather, an eight-time world champion in five weight classes. “And Roger is a boxing legend. You can’t go wrong. Roger’s health (diabetes) isn’t the best right now. But Roger worked day in and day out with me. But the night of the fight, my dad will be in my corner.”

And dad couldn’t be happier.

“It’s good to be back with my son, and things are much, much better now,” Floyd Sr. said. “We have six fights to look forward to. It’s going to be a hard road, but we’re gonna get there.”

Neither Mayweather brother is concerned about working with the other.

“I don’t see no difference,” Roger Mayweather said. “My nephew’s going to be ready. He knows what he has to do. Floyd’s a winner anyway, whether his dad was with him or not.”

Floyd Sr. said: “Roger’s doing what he’s got to do, and I’m doing what I got to do. My specialty is defense. Lately, my son’s been getting hit more than he’s used to getting hit. We’re gonna put a stop to that.”

Ruben Guerrero said he thinks there might be too many voices in Mayweather’s head, and that’s where his son has a big advantage.

“We don’t have those distractions,” Ruben Guerrero said. “He only has to listen to one person — me. And we’re always on the same page.”

The two dads have engaged in a war of words since the fight was announced in early March. They almost came to blows at the end of Wednesday’s final news conference. But both know that Saturday is about their kids, not them.

“This is my son’s fight, and I’m here supporting him,” Floyd Sr. said. “I’m not worried about Guerrero or his father.”

Ruben Guerrero said: “We’re here for one thing — win that title and hand Mayweather his first loss. If his old man is in the corner when we do it, so much the better.”

■ NOTES — Today’s weigh-in at the Grand Garden begins at 2:45 p.m. Doors will open at 1, and admission is free. … Mayweather was a minus-750 favorite with Guerrero at plus-500 on Thursday at the MGM Resorts sports books. … Showtime will televise the non-PPV portion of the card at 4 p.m. Saturday, featuring Las Vegans Badou Jack and Luis Arias. Jack will meet Michael Gbenga in an eight-round light heavyweight fight, and Arias will face DonYil Livingston in a six-round bout.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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