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Notebook: Mayweather layoff a positive?

01
Sep

One of the biggest question marks going into the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on Sept. 19 is what impact a 21-month layoff will have on Mayweather.

Typically, a fighter who has been away will take a relatively easy fight to shake off rust. Mayweather is coming back against one of the best fighters in the world, although one naturally much smaller than he is.

Mayweather, who is known to stay in shape even when he’s not fighting, said he felt good his first day in camp and as sharp as ever after sparring four or five times.

“I feel fast, strong and my timing is there,” Mayweather said on a conference call Tuesday. “ÔǪ We’re looking good and feeling the same way we did before we left. I feel better than before the break, actually.

“I haven’t had a break since 1987. I gave my body a chance to heal.”

That makes sense. Jim Braddock famously took nine months off after a series of poor performances, giving his battered body time to heal, and then came back to win the heavyweight championship four fights later.

And there are many more examples of fighters returning from long layoffs and finding great success.

“Sugar Ray Leonard had a 5¾-year layoff ÔǪ and still beat the greatest middleweight (Marvin Hagler),” said Roger Mayweather, the fighter’s uncle and trainer. “Ray Robinson laid off for three years and he was the greatest fighter on the globe. I mean Floyd isn’t the only guy who laid off. Most great fighters have that in common.

“All had layoffs and then had spectacular performances when they fought. Fights are won by skill; that’s all there is to it.”

Chavez vs. Marquez: Mayweather was asked whether his uncle, who fought Julio Cesar Chavez twice, has brought anything to camp from those fights that might help against the top active fighter from Mexico.

He said Chavez and Marquez aren’t comparable.

“I don’t think Marquez is on the level of Julio Cesar Chavez at all,” the younger Mayweather said. “Chavez is the biggest fighter ever to come out of Mexico, for starters. I think the best you can say about Marquez is he’s more of a boxer and counterpuncher. Julio Cesar Chavez doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He was a good defensive fighter; he stayed low. ÔǪ His skin started to open up when he got older. When he was younger, he’d get hit with all type of shots. Taylor hit him with a thousand punches and his face was clean. Taylor’s face was beat up bad.

“I think Marquez busts up a lot quicker than Chavez. Chavez was a better boxer; he went to the body better. He was an all-around better fighter.”

Roger vs. Angelo: Roger Mayweather has been strangely critical of legendary trainer Angelo Dundee on at least two occasions, saying Dundee has never deserved to win the Trainer of the Year award.

The elder Mayweather apparently is angry that history perceives Dundee as a great trainer when he obviously believes he is better.

“How does he get Trainer of the Year,” he said on the conference call. “Dundee didn’t train (Muhammad) Ali. He watched Ali train. He didn’t’ train Ali but he gets Trainer of the Year. Right there tells you that Trainer of the Year don’t mean sÔÇöt.

“I’m the best there is, period. I don’t care about that.”

Floyd Mayweather would just like to see his uncle get more credit.

“Like I’ve said before, why hasn’t Uncle Roger gotten Trainer of the Year?” he said. “His fighter has been dominating since 1996 but still he hasn’t gotten Trainer of the Year. All the other trainers, their fighters won, lost, won, lost. I’m still undefeated so my trainer also is undefeated.

“ÔǪ I feel my uncle should get the credit he truly deserves.”

He might have a point.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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