A tale of two trainers
Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone
Sitting in the MGM Grand’s media room are two drastically different figures discussing their fighter’s September 19th bout.
At one table is the understated Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain – trainer of the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Juan Manuel Marquez. Beristain sits quietly as a small group of press gathers around him asking about the mountain he is training his fighter to climb – Mount Mayweather.
Several minutes later, Floyd Mayweather Jr’s uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, strolls past to a table adjacent to Beristain. The media swarm is much larger as they would rather goat Mayweather for one of his memorable expletive filled quips rather than discuss fight strategy. After all, Roger doesn’t say much in regards to strategy when it comes to his nephew. He knows that his fighter is the most gifted fighter today.
Their conversations may be different, but their goal is the same. They both know they need their fighter to win on Saturday night. They are just simply on two different sides of the fence going into Saturday night. Ironically, through all the smoke and mirrors, they both rest on the same reason their fighter will win.
“We’ve been through it before,” Beristain says in regards to Marquez being an overwhelming underdog against Mayweather. “Nobody gave us a chance and we earned that chance to be in such a big fight with hard work and sacrifices. We’re fighting what I consider the best pound for pound fighter in the world and it doesn’t surprise me that nobody gives us a shot.”
The natural born ability, the fanfare, the glamour and glitz all weigh heavily in Mayweather’s favor. Beristain makes it no secret that Marquez will be in there with the best.
“He’s a very rare fighter for us with a very rare defensive system,” he says. “We’ve faced fighters with speed and that are awkward but not to the level of Mayweather. He’s a gifted athlete like Michael Jordan. We’ve fought fighters that are very similar but none like Mayweather.”
An advantage that Marquez will have over the man they call “Money” is activity. Since Mayweather’s last fight against Ricky Hatton, Marquez has fought three times against quality opposition. His controversial loss to Pacquio and victories against Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz have kept Marquez sharp while Mayweather will be stepping into the ring for the first time in nearly two years on Saturday. Ring rust could be evident but Nacho isn’t looking for that to be an advantage for his fighter.
“I’ve prayed to God and hoped that Mayweather comes in tremendous shape. I would hate for any excuses to come out later and rob Juan of a great victory,” Beristain says.
Another mountain that the Mexican has to climb is the weight gain. Marquez has fought a majority of his career at featherweight. But he’ll be making his debut at 140lbs against Mayweather and one has to be curious at how this will affect Nacho’s fighter.
“Strangely enough it has no effect whatsoever,” Beristain told Fightnews regarding Marquez and his weight gain. “He has gained mass and muscle. He’s worked very hard with me in conjunction with his doctors and nutritionists. He’s gained all muscle and you’ll see it on fight night. If you see some fat around the waist it will be because of the meals after the weigh-in.”
The ever looming urine drinking question was asked and Beristain reinforced that he is behind Marquez’ eye opening nutrient intake.
“I am totally 100% behind him because the same doctor who sees him, sees me as well,” Beristain said with a straight face. “You have to understand that an athlete like Juan is very healthy. His body is full of vitamins and minerals. What he expels out is four times that. It helps.”
But the “question of the year” came courtesy of FightNews as Beristain pointed out. With Marquez being a fighter who adjusts to his opponents’ aggressiveness and utilizes counterpunching to come out on top, how would he deal with Mayweather and his similar tact of laying back and waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. Would we be seeing a different, more aggressive Marquez on Saturday night?
“We have to be aggressive. We have to do it,” Beristain explained. “We worked on precisely that. We know that Mayweather is a fighter who fights backwards and is an expert in counterpunching. But we also thought the same about Joel Casamayor and you saw that Casamayor actually came to fight. Juan is a very gifted fighter and he has a sixth sense. We have trained for whatever Floyd can bring. Whether it be boxing or being the aggressor. Juan has that sixth sense and he figures out his opponent and improvises between rounds.”
Nacho pointed out that a victory against Mayweather would thrust Marquez into superstardom but wasn’t too thrilled with the prospect of a third bout with Pacquiao.
“Me, in particular, I don’t care for Pacquiao. But my fighter, I think so,” he said before being asked why a rematch with the current pound-for-pound king doesn’t excite him anymore. “Because he has been making so many excuses and blocking this fight from happening. He’s supposed to be superstar but he’s acting more like a ballerina.”
While Beristain answered questions about how he will handle the best fighter in the world, Mayweather seemed not concerned as much with Marquez. Instead, he discussed his nephew’s place in history and what exactly he had in the box at the press conference.
“Cow sh*t,” Mayweather said in regards to what was in the package he had for Marquez on Wednesday. “He drinks his own piss so he might as well eat sh*t too. I was going to give it to him but I didn’t because (everyone was too nice). The way (Marquez camp) talked I said ‘No, I can’t do that.’ He was like a guy who didn’t want to fight. Who wants to hit a guy who doesn’t want to fight?”
Mayweather delivered another boxing 101 class to the press as he made sure everyone knew that the best fighters – including his nephew – come from Michigan. His knowledge runs deep when discussing the history of the sport and he constantly reminds everyone how much he knows and how much we don’t. There is a point to Roger’s boxing knowledge that he revealed to the media.
“Anybody can tell you how good you are if they want something. I don’t need your approval to know how good I am,” Roger explains. He says that because of his deep roots in the sport, his nephew will never be swayed or have his ego driven by what people say about him. It’s important to keep “Money” driven and not fall into a place of complacency as well as keep those who want a piece of Mayweather’s life away from him. “(But) That’s what people do though. The ones that tell you how good you are don’t know sh*t. If they can’t teach you or train you, what good are they? Floyd doesn’t need that. He knows how good he is.”
“Ain’t no fight easy,” Mayweather says. “(Marquez) is a good fighter but nobody has the skills that Floyd does. That’s why Floyd will win. I don’t care who Marquez fought. He hasn’t fought Floyd.”
Mayweather continued to entertain with conversation about how his nephew would fare against the great welterweights of the 1980’s as well as if there is any more room to grow for Floyd as a fighter. But in the end, he explained in simple terms what his role is as a trainer and how it will lead Mayweather to another victory. Although he and Beristain may speak a different language, they both land on the same point, which makes their fighters special.
“I just remind him of what he is supposed to do. We have to stay on top of his skills. He’s going to adapt to whatever Marquez does in the ring. The whole object of a fighter is to make an adjustment. That’s what makes the fight easy,” Mayweather explains.
Ultimately, this fight comes down to one thing regardless of age, background, weight or even the trainers. It all comes down to adaptability. Whoever can figure out the other first will become victorious.