by Charles Jay
There was a lot of talk about “loyalty” in the second episode of “Mayweather-Cotto 24/7” on HBO, as Cotto stressed loyalty in his camp, and Mayweather countered with the remark that Cotto hasn’t exactly demonstrated loyalty in the way he’s changed trainers so many times.
This was interesting; something I’ve rarely heard from fighters when referring to other fighters. That’s probably because fighters usually like to reserve the fight to be “disloyal” (for lack of a better word) in a sense.
This is something that might shock you (especially if all you’ve heard through the years are stories of boxers as “victims”), but if you’ve had any experience working with fighters, you’re well aware of it: they’re about as loyal to their promoter and manager as those people are to them.
The fighter-trainer relationship tends to be a little closer and more personal because it more hands-on. But still, it isn’t iron-clad.
Fighters don’t generally like to begrudge one another the right to dump someone on a moment’s notice. And to a certain extent, you can’t blame them. After all, their shelf lives are pretty short, and they have to do what they think is best for their careers. So in many ways, they’re all in the same boat.
But back to the Mayweather comment. Some may think it’s the pot calling the kettle black, and yes, Floyd Mayweather Sr. is out of the camp where once he was in. But that father-son relationship was dysfunctional well before Floyd Jr. ever became a pro fighter. And he has indeed stayed with uncle Roger for a long, long time.
Floyd’s comment has some truth in it, but it’s not 100% accurate.
Sure, Cotto has been through a few trainers, but I don’t think it’s because he’s a bad guy; in fact, he comes off as the more likable guy in this HBO “reality” series. I don’t think “disloyalty” is at the core of these changes. In fact, apparently there was a question of money surrounding the dismissal of Emanuel Steward, which led to Pedro Diaz’s hiring.
And incidentally, there’s nothing that says he owes these trainers loyalty, because there is a group of them circulating around boxing who are themselves mercenary, and would drop a fighter if it wasn’t in their own financial interest to work with him.
If there is a pattern on the part of Cotto it most likely shows something else; perhaps a streak of insecurity runs through him.
This allows us to make a larger point, because it’s not at all uncommon for a fighter to change trainers after a subpar performance. Some of it involves denial; some of it involves delusion. People who have been engaged in this business know that when a fighter gets to the main event level, it’s not often that a trainer makes a big difference from a fundamental standpoint.
That, of course, leaves us with that which is psychological. As we know, the mental aspect of this sport is very meaningful. A change in trainers can have a placebo effect; the fighter thinks he is in better hands, therefore he IS in better hands. If, in the fighter’s mind, a disappointing effort is directly or indirectly attributable to a trainer, and a new trainer would make a difference, then maybe it WILL.
My own instinct is that Cotto is a bit shaky in the psychological department. I can tell you one thing in a general sense: Emanuel Steward, Freddie Roach and Buddy McGirt may have thrown some punches, and taken some, in their time, but they won’t be throwing or taking any on behalf of their fighter, and that is a fact no delusion can change.
I’m certain that Mayweather sees some of this as the foundation for his “mental edge” in this May 5 fight.