source: Chris Robinson | Examiner.com
Floyd Mayweather Jr. once again made headlines yesterday afternoon after an intense stare down with WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz inside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena following their packed weigh-in. Mayweather will challenge Ortiz inside of the same arena tonight and he attempted to rattle his younger foe's nerves a bit by staring him down and placing his right hand on Ortiz’s neck in an obvious show of gamesmanship.
Emotions were certainly high and members from both camps could be seen going back and forth with one another to the crowd’s delight well after the faceoff between Floyd and Victor had transpired. One man in particular, former heavyweight prospect and good friend of Mayweather, Nate Jones, was the last man standing as he engaged in some spirited back-and-forthing with some select Ortiz supporters in the crowd.
Mayweather always seems to have a myriad of followers around him but the burly Jones is another case. He has known Floyd closely for over sixteen years, dating back to 1994 when they met at the National Golden Gloves and became interested in one another after seeing the other fight inside of the ring.
Jones was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, admittedly growing up in a rough, gang-infested part of town. Jones played various sports throughout his childhood but admits that it wasn’t until he took a jaunt to a local boxing gym that he really discovered what he could do with his life.
“I learned that the sport of boxing saved my life for so many ways,” Jones recently told me. “There were plenty of times where I would have been in certain areas in Chicago and I wasn’t there because I was in the boxing gym. It saved my life. It taught me discipline, it taught me selflessness, and it taught me courage. Boxing really saved my life.”
After being spurred on by Mayweather, Jones would make his own trek out West to Nevada as he chased his own fistic dreams. Jones was definitely a capable fighter but his 18-2-1 (9) career mark is recognizable more so for his losses, a split-verdict to Friday Ahunanya in 2001 and a 3rd round TKO loss to Lamon Brewster a year later, than any of his wins.
A long-running battle with alcohol served as the reason for Jones’ early retirement following the Brewster defeat and it was in this time that his friend reached out to him.
“Drinking robbed me of my opportunity and how great I could have been,” said Jones. “When my career ended in 2003, he realized the situation; I was a heavy drinker and it caught up with me. Floyd heard about my situation, that I was forced to retire, and he told me to come work with him. He’s the first people that ever told me that I could be a good trainer. It happened to be that way.”
Jones has gone on to play a key role in Mayweather’s career and can be recognized best as the stout fellow wearing the body pad as Mayweather fires away with debilitating shots. But outside of the obvious ring camaraderie that emerges from camp, Jones insists he has gotten to know Mayweather well beyond the persona he exudes while in front of the camera.
“Floyd Mayweather is like the little brother I never had and I’m like the big brother he never had. We just think alike and it’s crazy how much we remind each other of each other. He’s the toughest guy I ever boxed with and he said the same thing. We think alike. We’re cut from the same cloth in the boxing game,” Jones added.
“Mr. Mayweather has a very good heart. He truly cares about me and truly looks at me as a big brother. He truly does a lot of things that people don’t see. He gave me a check so that I was able to pay for my Mom’s [funeral]. I don’t think people understand how good of a heart he has. He’s crazy in his own ways, but he’s actually a good person with a good heart.”
As for Jones’ personal prediction on this fight, his actions after the weigh-in go hand in hand with his belief that Mayweather is just on another level.
“I think Mayweather is going to be a little too much for Victor Ortiz. I think he’s going to put him in the middle of the ring, box him to death, and then by the 8th or 9th round there will be too much damage.”