With as many intriguing match-ups that we have lined up for 2006, none seems quite as compelling as the possibility of seeing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Zab Judah lacing the gloves up and matching wits with fists. If Judah can emerge victorious against Carlos Baldomir on January 7th then the reality of Floyd and Zab meeting becomes that much more clear.
Photo © Tom Casino/ SHOWTIME
Wanting to get an insider’s point of view on the big fight, I decided to give Floyd’s trainer and Uncle Roger a call to get his take on things. Roger has been with Floyd for much of the ride and takes just as much pride in his skills as a trainer as he did in his abilities as a prizefighter.
Here’s what the former Jr. Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight world champion had to say about his nephew’s chances against Zab Judah, his transition from fighter to trainer, his relationship with his brothers, fighting the great Julio Cesar Chavez, and his overall time in the ring.
Mayweather vs. Judah…
‘It’s a good fight. Floyd actually needs a challenge like this and Zab is the guy to challenge him. A fight like this, these two meeting up, is what makes the world of boxing go round.
‘Floyd does a lot of things that other fighters simply can’t do. Besides continuing to go up and win titles in different weight classes, Floyd is just like the fighters of old time. He’s just like Henry Armstrong, Ray Robinson, Ray Leonard, and Tommy Hearns. He has a way of creating excitement when he fights. Floyd is a great fighter and he believes in what he does.
‘I don’t see Zab presenting more of a threat than anyone else with speed and power. I don’t see this fight being much more different than Floyd’s last fight, to tell you the truth.
Leading the band…
‘I’m not looking to bring something out of my fighters, my thing is that I know boxing because I grew up in boxing. I also examine the other guy. Fighters don’t examine their opponents, that’s what I do. I always have a plan as to what we are going to do to the other guy. They only go by my plan because I train them and since I’m training them, I’m the one leading the band.
‘When I was a fighter I was a great puncher. I had a great left hand and I was a much better puncher than my nephew. Still, Floyd and I share a lot of similar qualities in the ring. Floyd is a thinking fighter, while I depended more on my ability to crack. My nephew is more of a thinker.
First world title…
‘When I fought for my first world title I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It wasn’t the same as if I would have been in Nevada or in Michigan. Most of my career I fought fighters from different countries in their backyard anyways. It was never a thing to me.
In the ring with Julio Cesar Chavez…
‘Chavez will possibly go down as the greatest Mexican fighter ever. Not the greatest Spanish fighter, that was Roberto Duran. But the greatest Mexican fighter was Julio Cesar Chavez. You can’t fight all those fights against all those world champions and not go down in history as a great fighter. To be great you have to have something to back it up and Chavez did it. Being in the ring with Julio was like being in the ring with anybody else. I’ve been in the ring with 27 world champions. He wasn’t even the best that I have been in the ring with. I’ve been in the ring with guys who were better punchers than him. I’ve fought guys who were much slicker than him as well. Take Rafael Pineda, he was a much better puncher than Chavez. What Julio had was his determination and a great chin. As far as great punchers, I’ve been in there with Kostya Tszyu and all of them. Julio did have great heart, he had a good ticker and a great chin. Any other Mexican I had knocked out anyway.
His ring nickname, the ‘Black Mamba’…
‘It’s funny because I wanted a boxing name that wouldn’t be common to most people. One day I was flipping through channels and I came upon this channel showing different reptiles, and they were showing the black mamba, one of the most deadly snakes in the world. I loved the way the mamba attacked so quietly, but when he hit you he just hit you one time and the poison was in you. That reminded me of myself right there.
‘I’ve been living in Las Vegas for 25 years, I came here when I was 18. Vegas is definitely a fight town. Other places I go just don’t seem to have the same boxing feel to them. Like when I go to Atlantic City it’s like I’m in my neighborhood. Vegas is what boxing is all about. Vegas brings the glamour, the glitz, and all the other shit. You can’t find another place like Vegas.
‘A lot of people ask me about my relationships with my brothers. I am close to my younger brother Jeff but I don’t really have a relationship with my brother Floyd. I don’t really talk to him, I don’t see him around. I haven’t talked to him in about 10 years and it’s not really a thing to me. But we’re not like that because of anything recently, it was like that when I was a child and it’s never been a problem to me.
‘I always have loved boxing. I love the competitiveness of it all, whether it’s from a fighting standpoint or a training standpoint. I love boxing and I know boxing. I knew exactly what I was born to do, ever since I was eight years old. I knew how to train even when I was a kid. I knew that when my career came to an end as a professional fighter that I was going to become a trainer. It’s a hard transition to some people after being a fighter for so long, but training has always been second nature to me.
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