Mayweather family bonds heal before Marquez bout

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Mayweather family fractures, and then it heals. The bonds of nearly a half-century can be severed with one argument, and they can stay broken for years before they're restored almost by accident.

The dynamics of boxing's first family might not make much sense to some people outside the clan of Floyd Mayweather Jr., but the former pound-for-pound champion thinks plenty of families can relate exactly to the roller-coaster ride of emotions that go along with being a Mayweather.

"What's important is that we're together now," Mayweather said. "It doesn't matter what people think. That's private. We're strong as a family."

Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) was estranged for most of the past nine years from his father, Floyd Sr., who first taught his toddler to punch and later drove his early career. Mayweather Jr. then rose to the sport's apex under the direction of his uncle, Roger, who has his own slate of issues with his nephew and siblings - and the occasional battery charge.

But in the months leading up to Mayweather's comeback fight against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night, the father and son reunited. Floyd Sr. now joins Roger in the gym, eager to add his two cents on Little Floyd's training.

The reconciliation is a clear thrill for the father, who trained Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in recent years while shut out from his son.

"We've been having a good, warm relationship, just like it's supposed to be," Mayweather Sr. said. "I get to see him in the gym. I get to spend time with my grandbabies. I just enjoy myself, going over to his house and being around our family."

The happy family that will take over the MGM Grand Garden seemingly beat longer odds than what Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs) faces Saturday night.

After years of silence, punctuated by public sniping and an occasional reconciliation-gone-bad, things got so tense that Mayweather Sr. tentatively agreed to train Oscar De La Hoya for a rematch against his son that was scrapped by Floyd Jr.'s retirement. Floyd Jr. also was upset last year when Roger agreed to train Steve Forbes, threatening to fire his uncle before Jeff Mayweather - the soft-spoken third brother - took over Forbes' training.

Floyd Jr. is reluctant to discuss what brought father and son back together this year, but most boxing people believe a family friend tricked the two into a reconciliatory meeting. Floyd Sr. says he doesn't even know how it happened, but he's enjoying the chance to be up-close to his son's development again.

"My dad, he's a great trainer," Mayweather Jr. said. "It's good having him in a boxing gym. We compete at a few things: jumping rope, hand flips, things like that. I'm glad to have my father back in my life, but I'm always at ease. My kids are getting a good education, and now they're getting to see their grandfather a lot."

Floyd Sr. doesn't shy from suggestions he would like to play a larger role in his son's training, which he briefly did two years ago while Roger was jailed, but Floyd Jr. knows he owes much of his success to Roger. The uncle realizes his job with Floyd Jr. is largely maintenance at this point: He keeps his nephew's reflexes in top shape and reminds Floyd Jr. of what he already knows he needs to do.

"I know about boxing," Roger said. "That's the chemistry we've got. I've been around Floyd pretty much his whole life. He's been messing around with boxing since he was 1, and I was there. That makes it easier for me to train him."

After lengthy athletic careers and still-active lifestyles, both brothers are adjusting to middle-age health concerns that might have been another factor in the Mayweather detente.

Roger recently was diagnosed with diabetes, which he blames for an incident in which he ended up parked in the middle of a Las Vegas intersection several months ago, thinking he was stopped at a red light. He takes medication to minimize its effects, but hasn't missed time in the gym.

Floyd Sr. has sarcoidosis, a rare disease that inflames his lungs and other tissues, causing coughing fits. Floyd Jr.'s concern for his 56-year-old father's health clearly was one reason for their reconciliation, and Roger has urged his brother to follow a diet high in vegetables.

But none of it can ruin a remarkable weekend for the Mayweather family, which intends to celebrate Floyd Jr.'s latest victory Sunday at his huge new desert mansion. Floyd Sr. will pay special attention to Kouran Mayweather, Floyd Jr.'s 10-year-old son, who's becoming enamored with the family business.

"If he wants to fight, his granddaddy is going to show him what time it is," Floyd Sr. said with a grin.

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