KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - “I know what it takes, I’ve been there before,” world-renowned boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. told soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke at Forward Operating Base Salerno via Skype Sept. 2. He was responding to a question from one soldier about his game plan to defeat Victor Ortiz, current World Boxing Council welterweight champion, in their upcoming title fight scheduled for Sept. 17.
“Do you see the age difference as a threat?” asked Houston native U.S. Army Sgt. Josh Bova, a field artillery non-commissioned officer from Battery A, 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, referring to the fact that Ortiz, a southpaw from Ventura, Calif., is 10 years younger than Mayweather.
“The age difference between me and Victor Ortiz, I’m not worried about that at all,” responded Mayweather. “I have a lot of experience; I’ve been places in the sport of boxing, in the square circle, that he’s never been before.”
Mayweather further explained that today’s fighters are no better than the fighters he fought early on in his career.
“The competition hasn’t gotten any tougher. The fighters today are not throw-back fighters. Once I get to beating these guys and I take the lead, these guys go into survival mode,” said the five-time WBC champion.
With a record of 41-0, including 25 knock-outs, since entering the professional boxing realm in 1996, it’s easy to see where Mayweather derives his confidence. Speaking from his home in Las Vegas, the prize fighter enthusiastically engaged the group of 17 soldiers, mostly boxing enthusiasts, just weeks before his much-anticipated championship bout.
Spc. John Martinez, a field artillery specialist assigned to the Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt., is credited for organizing the event. The Austin, Texas, native, who joined the Army on a two-year enlistment in 2010, is a respected boxing expert and writer who has interviewed many of the sport’s top fighters and continues to write a regular boxing column, even from Afghanistan.
Using his connections in the world of professional boxing, Martinez secured some time on Mayweather’s busy training schedule for a conversation with deployed soldiers. This was the first of its kind for both Mayweather and the soldiers of TF Duke.
Although their Skype session was focused mainly on his fight with Ortiz, which is scheduled to air on HBO Pay-Per View, there were plenty of other questions from the soldiers in attendance.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Terry Waddington, a Rockford, Ill., native and radar weapons specialist from 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt.; and who plans to try out for the All-Army Boxing team upon redeployment; asked for some training pointers.
“How many times a week do you recommend doing bag training?” asked Waddington.
“It all depends on how your body feels, you got to work according to how your body feels,” said Mayweather. “When I was beating these fighters early on in my career… I trained, but I didn’t train as hard as I train now because, you know, on the plateau that I’m on I know everyone is gunning for me,” he said.
“What about running?” asked Waddington.
“At least five times a week … sometimes I run outside, sometimes I run on the treadmill, and when I run on the treadmill, its only uphill,” responded Mayweather, who was careful to also emphasize the need to balance training with adequate recovery time.
“Tuesday I boxed 12 rounds, so I knew I didn’t want to run when I got home [in order to] let myself recover,” he added. “I’m in tip-top shape, but basically, you’ve got to know your limits.”
U.S. Army Pfc. Christopher Holton, a field artillery specialist assigned to HHB, 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt., and native of Mount Pleasant, Mich., conveyed his respect for the fact that Mayweather maintains near his fighting weight year-round and asked how he motivates himself to stay that way.
“It’s part of being responsible and having discipline. The sky is not the limit, I believe there is no limit,” Mayweather explained. “My Uncle Roger Mayweather [told me this from the beginning]. When you get into the sport of boxing, it’s a lifetime commitment, why not be responsible?” he said.
He went on to compare his discipline to that of the soldiers in attendance.
“You know, you guys are out there [fighting] in 120 degree weather so, if you guys can make [that] sacrifice, why can’t Floyd Mayweather make a sacrifice?” he stated.
Inevitably the conversation came back around to Victor Ortiz. More than one soldier, knowing Mayweather had experienced some trouble with southpaw fighters in the past, asked how he planned to deal with this fact in Ortiz. His answer was in keeping with how he answered that same question in an episode of “Face Off with Max Kellerman”, which aired recently in Afghanistan on the Armed Forces Network.
“It comes with the territory, what can I say? A good fighter has to be able to take a shot,” said Mayweather. “You gotta kill me, [or] I’m gonna keep coming.”
Not one to reserve the spotlight just for himself, Mayweather was sure to convey his appreciation for the soldiers in attendance.
“God bless you, thank you for fighting for this country ... the red, white and blue, there’s nothing better than this country, America. You guys are great, I love you guys, thank you so much … from the bottom of my heart,” he said, before hinting toward a possible visit to Afghanistan in the future after his fight with Ortiz.
“Hopefully after this fight, I can come over there and put on some exhibitions for you guys,” a notion that was received with enthusiastic applause from the soldiers.
Before that can happen, however, Mayweather is focused on taking the title from Ortiz. As to his prospects against the younger fighter, Mayweather himself perhaps answered it best on Face Off.
“They put 41 in front of me, 41 came up short,” said Mayweather.
|Date Posted:||09.03.2011 20:58|
|Location:||KHOWST PROVINCE, AF|
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