LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a man who inspires passion among boxing fans. To those who support him, he's nothing less than the greatest fighter of all time. To those who despise him, he's vastly overrated and avoids the toughest competition.
The truth, clearly, is somewhere in the middle.
But those who dislike the pound-for-pound champion will have to applaud his most recent move. Mayweather has paid all of the medical bills – currently in excess of $49,000 – for 10-month-old Austin York, who was born with a rare heart abnormality known as hypoplastic right heart syndrome.
When he was born, his right ventricle was abnormally small and neither ventricle functioned properly. One of his many issues was a lack of blood flow to his lungs. He had surgery in the first week of his life to fix that, with doctors inserting a 3.5 millimeter stent in it to redirect blood flow.
He had another surgery Oct. 28 to repair a leaking valve. He's been on and off a breathing machine and recently had a third surgery, with more expected.
Mayweather assistant David L. Levi, a student at UNLV, was invited to a boxing card that was serving as a fundraiser for York on March 15. When Levi got to the function and heard the details, he phoned Mayweather, who agreed to pick up all of the child's bills as a way to help his family.
"I spoke with Floyd on the phone and told him about the child and everything he and his family had been dealing with," Levi said. "He responded, saying 'Let them know I will take care of all the medical bills. I want to help him.' The total of the medical bills that have piled up over the 10 months of Austin's life add up to a little more than $49,000."
Levi said that since Thanksgiving, Mayweather has rounded up his team and gone to soup kitchens in Las Vegas at least three times to feed the homeless.
He said that it's almost always Mayweather's idea to volunteer.
"A lot of people who don't like him think he does these things for the media attention, but you know, we don't even call the media and let them know," Levi said. "He likes to do things locally so he feels he can make an impact in the community where he lives. He's always coming up with these ideas and getting the team and bringing them to the soup kitchens, because he has compassion.
"He donated a ridiculous amount of toys at Christmas for needy kids. It was insane. But he does that kind of thing a lot."
Mayweather does many things that aggravate people. But next time you want to knock him, at least keep his kindness toward the York family, people he did not know, in mind.
• The overriding thought I had watching Sergio Martinez defeat Matthew Macklin last Saturday was that if this is all Martinez had, he has no chance to beat Mayweather. And, as I wrote last week, that may not be such a bad thing.
• If James Kirkland defeats Carlos Molina in Houston on Saturday, I'd like to see Kirkland-Martinez as the next bout for each man.
• As for Manny Pacquiao's comment about God telling him to retire soon, I take that with a grain of salt. He indicated no such thing to me when I spoke to him at length Feb. 17, even when the conversation turned to religion. I still expect Pacquiao to fight three times after his June 9 bout with Timothy Bradley.
• I was very disappointed in Donovan George's performance Saturday in a loss to Edwin Rodriguez. I figured Rodriguez would win, but thought it would be a hellacious battle. As it turns out, George had little to offer and it was a dull, one-sided bout.
• If Bryant Jennings defeats Sergei Liakhovich on Saturday in their bout on the NBC Sports Network, does that make him a significant player in the heavyweight division? I'm intrigued by Jennings after seeing him defeat Maurice Byarm, but it's a long way from the likes of Liakhovich and Byarm to the Klitschko brothers.
Ring middleweight champion Sergio Martinez was never physically in any danger in his bout with Matthew Macklin, as his face at the end of the face can attest. Macklin's body punches did not seem to affect him much, either, considering Martinez actually came on in the last three rounds of the fight with a lot of energy. My problem was with the HBO commentators who were trashing Martinez and arguing how he was in danger and mocking him for daring to say he was going to win by knockout (which he did). The only one that came to his defense was blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley, when he pointed out it was only the fourth round. Martinez was mainly jabbing in the first half of the fight and yet he cut Macklin and made his eye swell. Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward brushed it off, saying it was because Macklin was so white. I could go on, but the point is, why were they so dismissive? They made it seem they were all but unbiased and objective.
That's an interesting perspective, Matt, though it's not one I share. I think what they were doing was trying to make the fight seem competitive. Martinez was a massive favorite and so I believe Lampley, Merchant and Steward were looking for any opportunity to highlight something Macklin was doing as a way to keep viewers tuned in. I don't think it was any more than that. They're certainly not biased against Martinez, believe me.
I saw the Martinez-Macklin fight playing out exactly the way it did. I was obviously excited for Macklin in the beginning and I was telling my girlfriend if he could keep up the pace, he could win. But I didn't think he would and you could see Sergio was trying to draw him in to knock him out, like he did with Paul Williams. Maybe he also saw your column about needing to win, but to look vulnerable. When Sergio finally did press the fight in the later rounds, which is how I thought it would go all along, he outgunned and outclassed Macklin and finished the fight viciously. It was like watching a Pacquiao or Mayweather fight in that I never knew for sure if Sergio was ever even hurt in the fight.
My feeling was that it took Martinez a while to find his distance and adjust to Macklin's style. When he did, it was no contest from that point forward.
Your story on Sergio Martinez needing to win but not too impressively so he doesn't scare off a potential super fight with Floyd Mayweather shows how bad the state of boxing is. If any fighter fights with that mentality, my guess is that they will always lose. Mayweather-Martinez is a fight that should be made if Pacquiao-Mayweather can't.
If Mayweather beats Miguel Cotto on May 5, I think he'll fight once more in 2012, after he gets out of jail. I still think Pacquiao will be the opponent in that fight, but if they can't come to terms, I do think Mayweather will take the bout against Martinez. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao are running low on quality options if they don't fight each other soon.
Rolly, he didn't say he wanted to fight him. In response to a question I asked, he said he would consider fighting him if a Pacquiao fight could not be made. And, as I said above, I do think he'll take that fight. His comments regarding Pacquiao are alluding to alleged use of steroids by Pacquiao. What Mayweather is trying to say is that someone who is on performance-enhancing drugs is more dangerous in a combat sport than someone who is not.
"I'm delighted that I have finally been given the chance to avenge the result of my last fight. It's clear I wasn't happy with what went on in the previous fight, but that takes nothing away from how Lamont Peterson fought. He showed tremendous heart that night, but now I have the chance to prove once and for all that I'm the very best in the division. I'm going to take care of business inside the ring and this fight is going to be just as exciting as the last one. The only difference is going to be in the outcome." – former super lightweight champion Amir Khan, who fights Peterson on May 19 in Las Vegas.
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- Sergio Martinez
- Manny Pacquiao
- Matthew Macklin