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11-05-2006, 01:57 AM
Updated: Nov. 1, 2006


Roger that: Mayweather moves forward without trainerBy Dan Rafael
ESPN.com
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LAS VEGAS -- The scene has played out so many times that it has almost become a cliché: Concerned trainer goes to the verbal whip between rounds to give his man a wake-up call down the stretch of a tough fight.



Mayweather


Who can forget legendary trainer Angelo Dundee's gentle, but stern, warning to Sugar Ray Leonard during his epic first battle with Thomas Hearns?

"You're blowin' it, son, you're blowin' it," Dundee told Leonard in just that perfect way that only he had, before sending him out for the 13th round. The words helped lift Leonard to another level, and he rallied for a 14th-round TKO victory in the 1981 welterweight unification fight.


SCALES TIP
At Friday's weigh-in in Las Vegas, welterweight champion Carlos "Tata" Baldomir, who reportedly "walks around" at 180 pounds, tipped the scales at 147, the welterweight limit. "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr., regarded as boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter, registered 146 pounds for Saturday's bout.

And how about fiery Teddy Atlas raging at stoic Michael Moorer late in his first fight with Evander Holyfield to try to get him over the hump? Well, it worked: Moorer picked up his intensity and won the heavyweight championship on a majority decision in 1994.

Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. (36-0, 24 KOs) has yet to encounter a situation during his perfect career that has called for such urgency from head trainer and uncle Roger Mayweather, a two-time world champion quite familiar with the pressure of a big fight.


But if Mayweather finds himself in a pickle Saturday night when he challenges welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir (43-9-6, 13 KOs) at Mandalay Bay (HBO PPV, 9 ET), Roger won't be able to help.


While Floyd is battling Baldomir, Roger, 45, will remain locked up in the Clark County (Nev.) Detention Center, where he is serving a six-month jail sentence for committing battery with substantial bodily harm against the grandmother of his infant son in July 2005.

'PRETTY RISKY'
HBO PPV (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET)
Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas

• Welterweights: Carlos "Tata" Baldomir (43-9-6, 13 KOs) vs. "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr. (36-0-1, 24 KOs), 12 rounds, for Baldomir's title
• Featherweights: Robert Guerrero (36-3-1, 27 KOs) vs. Orlando Salido (27-9-2, 18 KOs), 12 rounds, for Guerrero's title
• Welterweights: Paul Williams (31-0, 23 KOs) vs. Mauro Lucero (42-11-1, 28 KOs), 10 rounds
• Heavyweights: Chris Arreola (17-0, 15 KOs) vs. Damian Wills (21-0-1, 15 KOs), 8 rounds


He was sentenced Sept. 19 and won't be out of jail until March.

"I figure I should be able to go out there and conduct myself in an orderly fashion and put on a hell of a performance for 45 minutes," a confident Mayweather said when asked about Roger's absence from the corner.

Even if a jury hadn't needed less than hour to convict Roger, he wasn't going to be available to work his nephew's corner.

The Nevada Athletic Commission had already revoked Mayweather's trainer's license for his role in igniting a 10th-round melee during Floyd's April fight against Zab Judah.


Roger, who was also fined $200,000, can't apply for a new license until April 2007. He entered the ring with five seconds left in the round because he was angry at Judah, who had hit Floyd with a blatant low blow followed by a right hand behind the head, both illegal and dangerous punches. Roger's intrusion set off a brawl between the fighters' camps that lasted several minutes and was seemingly moments away from escalating into a full-scale riot.

With the conviction, Roger also missed Floyd's training camp.




Al Bello/Getty Images
Roger Mayweather, left, won't be in nephew Floyd's corner in Las Vegas on Saturday night for the first time in six years.
"The main thing is I miss his presence. I like having him around, I like being around him. I'm comfortable with him," said Floyd, who is as loose and calm this week as he has ever been before a fight. "Things happen in life. There are certain obstacles. That's an obstacle that God put in front of him that he has to cross, and without him being in my corner, that's an obstacle that I have to cross."

While it will be the first time in six years that Roger hasn't trained his nephew for a fight, Mayweather's team has insisted throughout the promotion that his absence won't be a problem and that all the questions haven't been a distraction.

"It's really business as usual," said Leonard Ellerbe, 41, Mayweather's close friend and adviser who is filling in as his trainer. "If Floyd was a young fighter instead of a veteran fighter, maybe we'd be worried."

Said Floyd: "Everything that Roger has taught me has stuck with me. I already know what to do. After being in the sport for so many years, you know what you have to do. Roger don't have to tell me to throw the jab. I know I have to throw the jab."

Ellerbe, who has been an assistant in Mayweather's corner for nine years and for all 15 of his championship fights, was fined $50,000 and had his license suspended for four months because he jumped into the ring after Roger during the melee. However, his punishment was much lighter than Roger's because the commission ruled that Ellerbe had acted as a peacemaker.

Ellerbe and Rafael Garcia, the sage 77-year-old who has wrapped Mayweather's brittle hands and served as his cutman for several years, will also be in the corner.



"We went over the game plan before Roger had his unfortunate incident. I've been in contact with Roger a lot. We know what the game plan is. We're just going to go out and execute the game plan."
-- Leonard Ellerbe, who's filling in for Roger Mayweather
Their job is simply not to screw up on Saturday night.

"The No. 1 thing is to remember that Floyd is the best fighter in the world," Ellerbe said. "I equate this to when Michael Jordan was playing and maybe Phil Jackson had to go out for hip surgery and [assistant coach] Jim Cleamons fills in. Just give Michael the ball and let him go. That's what I equate this to.

"We went over the game plan before Roger had his unfortunate incident. I've been in contact with Roger a lot. We know what the game plan is. We're just going to go out and execute the game plan."

Although Floyd said he has not spoken to his uncle or visited him in jail, he said that Roger recently wrote him an inspirational letter.


"He wrote me a letter and just told me what to do and the game plan," Mayweather said. "The game plan is always to hit and not get hit. The less you get hit, the longer you last in the sport. That's what he mainly talked to me about.

"He told me, for instance, 'Floyd, you know you got to go out there and use your jab. Don't let this guy touch you. Take control from the opening bell. Approach it like you do every day in the boxing gym. This ain't nothing but the boxing gym.' That's what he always says."

During the training camp, Ellerbe said there were not many differences from a typical camp with Roger. One difference was that Ellerbe watched the bulk of the videotape to analyze Baldomir.

"I've always watched tape. I just watched more," Ellerbe said. "Me and Roger always watched tape, but now it's just been me watching all the videotape. We are prepared. The fight won't be decided on who is working the corner. Baldomir and Floyd will decide what goes on in that fight. It's not even going to remotely come down to who is in the corners."



"Basically, it's going to be a big excuse for Mayweather when he loses."
-- Welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir

HBO announcer Jim Lampley isn't convinced that Roger's absence won't make a difference.

"This fight could get tough," Lampley said during HBO's insightful "Countdown to Baldomir-Mayweather" preview show. "This fight could get very tense in the late rounds. There might come a moment in this fight where Floyd would feel more secure if he could have Roger's voice in his ear. It is going to hurt Floyd not to have Roger."

And what does Baldomir think of all the drama surrounding Mayweather's corner?

"Basically, it's going to be a big excuse for Mayweather when he loses," he said.