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Family circus

LAS VEGAS – There were three great debates at the news conference Wednesday hyping Saturday's Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. super welterweight title fight.

1. As legendary as Mayweather's punch-slipping skills are, could he manage to avoid De La Hoya's flattening left hook for all 12 rounds?

2. Could De La Hoya, who at 34 is four years older and has a history of tiring on occasion, deal with Mayweather's relentless pace and superhuman physical conditioning, even in the late rounds?

3. And most importantly, which Mayweather – father, son, uncle – each seemingly crazier than the other, would say the wildest thing at the press conference?

To the uninitiated – or those not mesmerized by this circus act family on HBO's hit "24/7" reality series – here's a brief recap.

The father, who once got shot right in front of the son, used to train De La Hoya, but got dropped because who would believe a father could truly train the opponent of his son? Rather than hire the father, the son chose to be trained by the uncle, who when the fight was first signed was actually in prison – "I was somewhat rested," he offered.

The father and the uncle, who are brothers, don't really get along, although the uncle and the son let the father hang around for awhile until the father got mad at what the uncle said about him on "24/7" – essentially dismissing any insider info the father could provide on De La Hoya and surmising, "he can be home in a rocking chair; I don't give a (expletive)."

That means the father is, for the time being, not talking to the uncle or the son so when one of De La Hoya's people, Eric Gomez, called him this week to check in and innocently asked if he needed anything, the father said, "well, yeah, actually, you got any tickets?"

So the father will be sitting in the cheering section of the opponent of his son and brother.

"I don’t understand the whole thing," De La Hoya shrugged.

Who could? Golden Boy De La Hoya might be the biggest star in boxing but the Mayweather clan is gaining quickly. In this reality TV world, they are a perfect train wreck family, scene stealer after scene stealer, both irascible and irresistible.

"Admit it, when you watch 24/7, and they show De La Hoya, you say, 'go back to that Mayweather family,'" Floyd Jr. said.

And he's right. Which brings us to the press conference, where all three were in fine form, continuing their clown show of rude, ridiculous and, at times, hysterical hyperbole. This is what the pre-fight has turned into – not the expected showcase of De La Hoya, but a platform for the Mayweathers to mouth off.

First there was Roger Mayweather, the uncle, fresh off an "O.J. trial" for battery gone bad that sent him to prison for six months. He went right after De La Hoya's current trainer, Freddie Roach, who is merely suffering from Parkinson's disease. "That guy right there couldn't whip me in a million years. I could be a million and one with polio and he couldn't whip me."

Later he said he felt bad De La Hoya had to learn from Roach, "you ain't learned (expletive) but how to catch a punch."

This was enough to get Sugar Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins, who both are in De La Hoya's camp no less, to laugh so hard they were crying.

Not to be outdone, Floyd Jr. got it revved up like only he can, rocking what he claimed was a million dollars in jewelry and rolling with every below the belt putdown of De La Hoya he could dream up.

He mocked De La Hoya for first losing twice to Mosley and then hiring Sugar Shane as a sparring partner. "I don't fight sparring partners," he said.

Then he ripped De La Hoya for not being the family man he acts like on "24/7" where his wife and toddler son are big stars but going into the season finale no mention is made of three children from three other women.

"Does he talk about his other kids?" Mayweather snapped. "His kids out of wedlock?"

Later he described what he said to De La Hoya during one stare down for the cameras.

"I told him, he's a (expletive) and you know what men do to (expletives)? They (expletive) them. So you're (expletived)."

Use your imagination. Or don't. Said De La Hoya with a shake of his head, "he just talks and talks and talks."

A Mayweather talk? Does the sun shine in Vegas?

"This is not a gentlemen's sport," Floyd Jr. defended. "This isn't golf. This isn't tennis."

Then there were his general riffs:

"I'm going to tell you how smart I am."

"There's no gas station in that ring."

"If it's broke, why fix it?"

And finally, he summed it all up with the immortal: "I ain't got nothing bad to say about nobody."

Finally there was dear old dad, who once claimed his son was "disobedient" and once predicted a De La Hoya victory, but at this point was more interested in ripping his brother Roger.

"What's he going to pick up (from Roger)?" Floyd Sr. said. "You ain't going to be picking up no bible around Roger."

You could say Floyd Sr. was justified in mentioning his brother's sketchy past, except he himself spent some of the 1990s in prison on a narcotics charge. And, of course, there was the time he got shot right in front of his son, which even Floyd Jr. doesn't care about at this point.

"Things happen," said the son.

Sure, who hasn’t seen their father shot?

Finally Floyd Sr. was asked about the awkwardness of getting free tickets from De La Hoya but not his own son?

"Ain't that something?" he said. "It says a lot."

Of course, not enough to end some lingering bitterness about De La Hoya turning down his $2 million dollar offer to train him because Oscar couldn't believe a man would truly want to see his own son catch a beating. That position seems to convey a supreme lack of understanding of the depravity of the Mayweathers.

So, sure, the tickets were nice but, "He should have given me the $2 million when I asked for that," Floyd Sr. said.

It was a line that even the other Mayweathers could appreciate; meaning maybe the next episode of “24/7” will feature reconciliation. Or perhaps they can all get a post-fight spin off series, making “The Sopranos" look like a well-functioning family.

"My dad, guess what?" Floyd Jr. smiled. "I still love him."