The Roger Mayweather Incident and Implications for Mayweather/Marquez

In its own right, the recent news about Roger Mayweather, the uncle and trainer of boxer Floyd Mayweather, is tawdry material, another night of conflict and violence from the lunatic fringe, more turmoil among the Cops demographic. But looked at in the context of Floyd’s career and current circumstances, it could come to have enormous implications.

If you haven’t yet read the news, police were summoned to a private residence in Las Vegas on Sunday morning. They found Roger Mayweather there strangling Melissa St. Vil, a female boxer who was formerly trained by Mayweather. Among the grisly details of the encounter to make it into the press is that St. Vil began coughing up blood when Mayweather released her from his choke-hold. Evidently, he’d previously hit her in the ribs several times. Mayweather was immediately taken into custody at the Clark County Detention Center.

Over at Boxing Scene, there’s a description of the incident from Floyd Mayweather Sr., Roger’s brother and the father of Floyd Jr. Though he didn’t witness the altercation, Floyd Sr. said that there was tension between St. Vil and Roger because St. Vil recently had split with Roger as her trainer. St. Vil was staying with the boxer Cornelius Lock (also trained by Roger) in a condo owned by Roger, and this was what led to the physical confrontation on Sunday. Roger wanted her out of the condo and she refused to go. Evidently, during the scuffle St. Vil broke a lamp over Roger’s head, though it would appear that the majority of the violence was done by Mayweather.

In Michael Marley’s piece on the incident at the Examiner, you can see a picture of St. Vil (a Haitian-born woman known as “Guard Your Grill" St. Vil ... good nickname) and Mayweather’s mugshot.

Though the Mayweathers are often fodder for hilarity, and have become the family you love to hate on HBO’s 24/7 documentary series, this is just not one of those “oh those guys are so crazy" kind of stories. Beating on a woman never is such a story, even if that woman happens to be a professional boxer. Throw into the mix that Mayweather has been down this road before and the story becomes even uglier. In 2006, Roger Mayweather did six months of prison time for beating the grandmother of his son.

It’s dark stuff. For Roger, it doesn’t seem unlikely that he could be facing more prison time. For his nephew, Floyd, it’s at the very least a possibility that he could be facing one of the most important fights of his career, his September 19 bout with Juan Manuel Marquez, without his trainer of the last nine years.

Floyd has fought without Uncle Rog in his corner before. When Roger was serving his sentence in 2006, Floyd fought Carlos Baldomir in a three-belt welterweight unification bout. Leonard Ellerbe, Floyd’s close adviser and manager, served as his trainer, and though the fight was boring in the extreme, it was also a virtual shutout for Mayweather.

Given Floyd’s work habits and his knowledge of boxing, I imagine that he’ll be fine come fight night with or without Roger in his corner. He hasn’t fought in almost two years, which makes the current situation a little more loaded than the Baldomir fight, but then again, Floyd is generally one of the hardest training fighters and most intelligent boxing minds of the last 20 years. The nuances of the game are inscribed in his DNA. I don’t think there’s anything that anyone could teach him at this point, not even Rog.

But the promotion of the Marquez fight is not nearly as healthy as Floyd’s boxing IQ, and that’s where this Roger Mayweather incident figures to have the most impact. There’s simply not a lot of buzz about Mayweather/Marquez right now in the sports world. Compare it to the buzz generated by the Manny Pacquiao/Miguel Cotto fight, scheduled for November 14, and Mayweather/Marquez seems like a fly buzzing around a rhinoceros.

The main hope for changing that situation is HBO’s upcoming Mayweather-Marquez 24/7 series, which debuts on August 29. For all of Floyd’s ridiculous boasts about himself, one is undeniably true – he made the 24/7 franchise with his star-making turns in the premiere of the series, De La Hoya-Mayweather 24/7, and then the follow-up, Mayweather-Hatton 24/7.

And a big part of the compelling package of drama with Floyd is his crazy family - his crazy, wild-eyed trainer-uncle and his even crazier, poeticizing trainer-father, and all the feuds and turmoil and trouble among the three. Taken together, they are inarguably great television, some strange fusion of Wide World of Sports and The Wire.

But you have to wonder if this recent storyline with Uncle Rog isn’t too gruesome for even HBO to want to face head on. The 24/7 series has been built on celebrating the antics of the Mayweathers, but this, choking a woman and making her spit blood, is nothing to celebrate, to put it mildly. The situation at the very least will remove Roger from the light of the cameras, and even more, may cast a pall over the coverage of the whole Mayweather training camp. Because one way or the other, this incident is going to be a major issue in that camp. If Rog is there, it will be with the possible consequences of the incident hanging over his head. If he’s not, it will be because of the incident.

What this fight very much needed was a glowing 24/7 of the kind that the Mayweathers have delivered in the past, with all of their verbose, dysfunctional and often hilarious mayhem in full bloom. Now there is a dark, violent pall cast over the entire enterprise before it’s even begun. They say “all press is good press," but this situation may exceed the limitations of that adage. And the result may be that Roger Mayweather’s latest disaster has less impact on Floyd’s performance in the ring than it does on his performance at the box office.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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