Anthony Wilson recaps last night's memorable premiere episode of Mayweather vs Ortiz 24/7 on HBO.
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"What motivates me is putting the finishing touches on my legacy."
So says Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the start of HBO's "24/7: Mayweather/Ortiz," which debuted Saturday night, the latest in the premium subscription channel's four-part mini-series/hype machine for big fights. The show was Mayweather's brainchild, and in the time since its 2007 debut (in the lead-up to his Cinco de Mayo mega-fight with Oscar de la Hoya) he's further put his stamp on it, making it a personal playground for his boyish antics. This is Floyd's fifth time outing as a headliner, with the members of his inner circle having long since become familiar to the 24/7 faithful - in particular, Roger and Floyd Mayweather Sr., the fighter's uncle-trainer and father, respectively. The brothers are known for their star turns as supporting characters, joining Junior, the antagonist, in forming what is perhaps HBO's signature family outside of the ones once juggled by Tony Soprano.
In part one of the series' newest installment, things are status quo in their regard - at least until the episode's closing five minutes.
Floyd is Floyd, the head honcho, the center of it all, playful, obnoxious, and unwavering in his self-belief as he dismisses Ortiz ("Victoria Ortiz," he calls him during one bit) and shrugs off his status as the defendant in six different pending legal cases.
"F--- it," he says, reminding us of his motto. "It's gon' be what it's gon' be. If I'm innocent, leave me alone. If I'm guilty, do what you gotta do."
He has assembled the best defense team money can buy; he's paid millions of dollars in lawyer fees but seems unfazed by it.
"It comes with the territory," he explains. "People are money hungry, what else can I say?"
Roger is Roger, typically ludicrous as he rambles off something ridiculous about Ortiz being a non-entity to him.
"I wouldn't know him from another bag of white rice," he says, as only he would.
Big Floyd is Big Floyd, reminding everyone yet again of his place in the family boxing tradition.
"I'm the motivator, innovator, creator," he rhymes. "I'm the one that taught them."
It's the stuff we're used to from the outrageous trio.
But the camp is infiltrated by a couple of new members.
To be accurate, 50 Cent is only semi-new face: he and Floyd have been friends for years, and he made a memorable cameo in an episode of the series' inaugural run. Now, he seems to have become an even more routine presence in Floyd's life.
"That's my dude, ‘til the day we d-i-e," Floyd states.
The lovely Miss Jackson, on the other hand, is introduced in earnest. They met five years ago in Atlanta; today, she's Mayweather's fiancee.
As usual, Mayweather operates out of Las Vegas.
Victor Ortiz trains out of Ventura, CA. He is flanked by his trainer, Danny Garcia, and younger brother, Temo. Victor and Temo came up the hard way, abandoned by their parents as poor, young boys in their native Garden City, KS, and eventually ending up in foster care. Victor picked up boxing as a teenager, growing into his craft at a gym run by a man named Bucky Avila, who had a big impact on Ortiz's life. Ortiz gets teary-eyed as he reflects on his late mentor.
Back in Kansas, Temo is the CEO of Ortiz Trucking. Garcia also drives a truck, as a haul man working for Coca Cola. It's not strange for a trainer to have a day-job; as Carlos Acevedo once approximated, 85% of all people involved in boxing, including fighters, have outside occupations.
But it is uncommon for a man preparing a fighter to take on the sport's biggest draw and long-time pound-for-pound titan in a big event on pay-per-view (just as it was last year, when Lenny de Jesus, a locksmith by day, reared Joshua Clottey for his Dallas Stadium showdown with Manny Pacquiao).
Garcia began training Ortiz in 2007, against the wishes of his family. For a few years, Ortiz trained under the guidance of Eduardo and Robert Garcia. Eduardo, now retired, is Garcia's father; Danny, head of a stable that includes such big names as Antonio Margarito, Brandon Rios, and Nonito Donaire, is his younger brother.
When Ortiz and Robert clashed, Ortiz called on Danny, who had stepped away from the family business at the gym to focus on his job with Coca Cola. Their pairing is the basis of a rift between Danny and the rest of his family, who view Danny as a traitor.
"I love my brother," Danny explains, "but I don't know if he loves me."
Family feuding is a Mayweather trademark. The beef between the brothers and estrangement of Little Floyd from his father has been exceedingly well-documented. The dysfunction rears its head again in the opener, and in spectacular fashion - for the first time, we get to see it in action, and in all its glory.
What started off as a seemingly innocent debate between father and son over a couple of female fighters soon turns into an all-out shouting match, with Junior lobbing hurtful diatribes at Senior. Floyd denounces his father as both a former fighter and a trainer, exalting Roger at his expense and denying his father credit for the role he played in his development as a puglist (despite acknowledging it at the beginning of the show). Junior orders Senior from the gym, the two exchange expletives and even have to be separated.
At the conclusion of the verbal war, Mayweather continues to spout off in anger in the locker room, further disparaging his father, who has exited the building. As many members of his entourage look on, Floyd caps off the episode with a final heavy blow.
"And motherf-----, I'm not no Jr.!"