Floyd Mayweather Jr. doesn't just want to be the best, he needs it. It keeps him up at night. Makes him angry. Keeps him hungry.
Say what you want about who the talented pound-for-pound superstar fights (and when), you simply cannot dismiss his incredible talent, unparalleled ability and incomparable work ethic. He's always sharp, in shape and on top of his game.
It's in his blood.
The Mayweather DNA makes him more than just a complete boxer though. Sure, he’s got fast hands and even faster feet. Lots of guys have that. Yes, he’s technically sound and a proficient puncher. Plenty of others out there fit the bill.
But Mayweather has something more. It’s his drive, his hunger and his passion to be the very best at what he does that make him special.
If you’ve ever met him in person, you know he’s actually quite pleasant outside of the ring. In fact, when the 36-year-old isn’t trying to show off for friends or his “money team” entourage, he can be downright engaging.
In the ring, though, Mayweather is a different animal. He’s just mean enough to be focused, and his levelheaded coolness gives him a leg up on just about any other man in the sport.
Ask his opponents.
Against Ricky Hatton in 2007, Mayweather was stunned by a hard left jab that staggered him. But Mayweather adjusted to the pace quickly, and he barely lost another round on his way to a TKO 10 win.
Shane Mosley smashed Mayweather twice with hard right hands in the second round of their 2011 encounter. The strong-willed Mayweather wouldn’t go down to the canvas though. And soon enough, he was making minced meat of Mosley’s face with straight right hands and sharp left hooks en route to a wide unanimous-decision victory.
It’s happened over and over again. Mayweather is the king of adaptation. It’s what makes him special. It’s what sets him apart.
Yes, Mayweather’s single greatest asset (of which he has many) is his ability to adjust to what is in front of him on fight night.
No one, not even the incredibly astute Mayweather, is unhittable. But Mayweather’s defense and his ability to think fast in the heat of the moment give him the edge when the going gets tough. And when the chips are down, Mayweather delivers.
Ask Floyd Sr.
Yes, Mayweather Jr. received lots from his father. Both volatile men have made names for themselves in the sweet science.
Jr. took the physical gifts his father gave him and honed them (with the help of his father and uncle Roger) into the most impressive fighting force in the world today. But maybe the most important gift his father gave him was the ability to adjust.
You see, Mayweather Sr. was more than a competent professional. He was ranked among the top 10 welterweights in the world at one time, earning a shot in 1978 at perhaps his generation’s greatest fighter, “Sugar” Ray Leonard.
He fought the Hall of Famer close until the fifth when a right-hand injury all but sealed his fate. By the 10th round, the gritty Mayweather was eating too many hard barrages from a superstar coming into his own. The referee stopped the fight.
Soon after, Mayweather suffered a gunshot wound to his leg. He never quite returned to form as a fighter, and he finished his ring career a disappointing 28-6-1.
But Mayweather adjusted to what was in front of him—his life—and made his lasting mark in boxing not as a fighter but as a trainer. The braggadocios cornerman calls himself the best trainer in the world and preaches sound defense and a stiff jab.
He’s trained a who’s who of top-level professional boxing champions—world champions like Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and, of course, his son.
Against Robert Guerrero on May 4, the two will be reunited in the boxing ring for the first time in 13 years. Jr. gave himself a grade of D+ for his performance against Miguel Cotto last May, and he says his father has been enlisted to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Floyd Mayweather @FloydMayweather
Me & my trainer (my dad) back working together getting ready for May 4th http://t.co/dmyB6wBr2013-2-14 03:26:43
“You were undefeated when you started with your daddy,” said Sr. during their epic feud caught by HBO cameras back in 2011 (h/t ABS-CBN News).
“I’m not no junior!” screamed the tantrum-throwing son at the father being escorted out of the gym by bouncers.
Oh, but he is, and now he seems to know it.
Follow @KelseyMcCarson on twitter.