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The Unfamiliar Mayweather: Forged From A Different Cloth



 1-jeff-mayweather 8f13b

By Arne K. Lang

The name Mayweather is synonymous with boxing. For many people, the name is also synonymous with bad behavior. Brothers Floyd and Roger Mayweather and Floyd’s famous son of the same name have all had well-documented legal troubles. It’s fair to say that some folks, if asked to pick one word to characterize all the Mayweather men, would check the box marked “thug.”

If they knew Jeff Mayweather, the least well-known of the fighting Mayweathers, they wouldn’t be so quick to seize upon that stereotype. Jeff Mayweather isn’t loud or profane, doesn’t go out clubbing, has never threatened a woman with bodily harm, doesn’t make a spectacle of counting his money, and likely has never raised his fists to anyone outside the ring. He’s low-key, approachable and pleasant.

Jeff Mayweather is the baby of the bunch, twelve years younger than Floyd the Elder and three years younger than Roger. When Jeff launched his pro career, Floyd was retired and Roger, with 35 pro fights under his belt, was the reigning WBC 140-pound champion.

Compared with his siblings, Jeff was slow to get started. He was 10 weeks shy of his 24th birthday when he made his pro debut on April 23, 1988. Boxing at the professional level stayed on the backburner until he finished college. At Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, roughly 50 miles from his home in Grand Rapids, Jeff majored in graphic arts.

Jeff Mayweather brought a 23-2-2 record into his biggest payday, an 8-round contest with budding superstar Oscar De La Hoya. The Golden Boy was too good for him – the fight was stopped in the fourth round – but the match gave the three Mayweather brothers an odd distinction. Floyd and Roger had also fought an Olympic gold medalist. Floyd fought Sugar Ray Leonard; Roger fought Pernell Whitaker. Jeff lost the fight but completed the hat trick.

Jeff’s career sputtered after the loss to De La Hoya. He came up short in 12 round tussles with hometown favorites Joey Gamache and Israel Cardona and finished with a mark of 32-10-5. But unlike most fighters, including most great fighters, he left the sport on a winning note.

Jeff knew going into his match with Eric Jakubowski on March 12, 1997, that this would be his final bout. The match was staged in Grand Rapids on a card that featured his brother Roger in the main event and included his nephew Little Floyd whose career was just getting started (Little Floyd, as he was commonly referenced back then, turns 40 next year).

Jeff judged that this was the perfect setting for his farewell fight. He was back in his hometown, where he had never boxed professionally. Sharing the bill with two members of his family made the event extra-special.

Jeff was a reluctant warrior. Had he been the oldest brother, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Before he turned pro at the age of 20, Roger Mayweather was an outstanding amateur. Tagging along with Roger to the gym, it was inevitable that Jeff would be goaded into giving boxing a whirl.

Jeff willingly acknowledges that he didn’t have the drive to be special that is the hallmark of all great champions. Don’t misunderstand. He was always in shape. He competed in the 132-pound division in the 1997 National Golden Gloves Tournament and as a pro he never weighed more than 139 ½ pounds. But there wasn’t the same passion for boxing that he saw in others.

“Things came too easy for me,” says Jeff. “I was good at school and I had no fears that things would be hard for me if boxing didn’t work out.”

As an amateur, Jeff crossed paths with several boxers who made quick headway as professionals – boxers that didn’t strike him as exceptional. As he watched their careers blossom, Jeff reconsidered his decision to forego boxing for a career in the graphic arts. “I wasn’t 100 percent committed to boxing,” he says, “but I knew that if I was going to give it a shot I couldn’t wait any longer.”

Transitioning from boxing to training boxers was a seamless transition. Jeff’s older brothers, to use a basketball analogy, were gym rats. Roger was forever mentoring aspiring boxers even as his career was still ongoing. Jeff upheld the family tradition.

On July 28, 2006, Sultan Ibragimov, an undefeated heavyweight from Russia, met Ray Austin at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Ibragimov’s cornermen were old salts Panama Lewis and Stacey McKinley. Austin’s cornermen, Jeff Mayweather and Shannon Briggs (yes, that Shannon Briggs), were greenhorns by comparison.

Ibragimov had advanced to the gold medal round in the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he lost a controversial decision to Cuban amateur legend Felix Savon. Expected to have little difficulty with Austin, he was fortunate to escape with a draw.

Ibragimov’s wealthy backer was none too pleased and made it known that he was in the market for a new head trainer. He auditioned five applicants before settling on Jeff.

A trimmed-down Ibragimov won his next three fights, blowing away Javier Mora in the opening round and then out-pointing Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield without too much difficulty. “Up-and-coming trainer Jeff Mayweather appeared to mold Ibragimov out of putty, creating a well-rounded boxer out of a brawler,” said Associated Press boxing writer Dave Skretta in his recap of the Briggs fight.

“He and I had the same temperament,” says Mayweather of Ibragimov, “and that made for good chemistry.” It helped that the Russian was fluent in English.

The final Ibragimov-Mayweather collaboration ended on a dispiriting note. On Feb. 23, 2008 at Madison Square Garden, Ibragimov failed to unseat heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, losing a 12-round decision. He never fought again, but Mayweather would soon have another champion under his wing in Panamanian featherweight Celestino Caballero. (Jeff has also tutored a few MMA fighters, notably Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal. “A lot of MMA trainers don’t know enough about the science of boxing,” he says.)

Little Floyd’s life outside the ring has been a soap opera and Uncle Jeff has played a supporting role. “For nine years there was silence between us,” he says without elaborating on what caused the rift. “But through it all, I always prayed that my nephew would win all of his fights.”

A larger rift developed between Little Floyd and his father, but that too would be patched up. Jeff has written for boxing web sites and believes that one of his articles quickened the healing process. “I mentioned that all this animosity was killing our mother, Floyd’s grandmother,” says Jeff, looking back at those troublesome days.

Asked to name his favorite active fighter, Jeff tabs Kevin Newman II who has won five straight in the super middleweight class since being held to a draw in his first pro bout. Jeff, who has no children, considers Newman his adopted son. He has been schooling him since the young man was nine years old.

Nowadays, folks meeting Jeff for the first time have a stock question for him. They want to know if his famous nephew will come out of retirement and fight again. With one more win, Floyd Mayweather Jr will overtake the fabled Rocky Marciano who finished 49-0.

We would be remiss if we didn’t ask the same question. So tell us, Jeff, what do you think?

It so happens that he feels very strongly that his nephew will never fight again. “Floyd doesn’t need to beat Marciano’s record because he set a bunch of other records that will be even harder to beat,” says Jeff. “He was undefeated for 19 years as a pro. Who can top that?”

Some folks are willing to bet that Jeff is wrong. Time will tell.


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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.



Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar



Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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