When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
MICHAEL DUBERRY COLUMN: Being part of Team McKenzie was an eye opener
6:00pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in Sport
AT first glance Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jnr and Leon ‘Big Mac’ McKenzie are worlds apart.
One fighter has perfected his craft, with Mayweather’s perfect 45-fight win record making him arguably the best boxer to step inside a ring, while the other is just starting out after converting from professional football.
Both had fights on Saturday night. One was in Las Vegas, the other in Norwich (I’ll let you guess which way round it was), but if you scratch the surface it quickly becomes clear they have so many other things in common.
Boxing is in their blood and their names have long been affiliated with the sport.
Floyd’s dad, Floyd Mayweather Snr, was a US Championship Tournament winner, while his uncle Roger was a world champion at two weights.
Clinton McKenzie, Leon’s dad, was a British champion and his uncle, Duke, was a three-weight world champion.
There is also a link between the families, with Floyd Mayweather Snr and Clinton McKenzie taking on the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard.
Not all similarities between the two are good ones, with both spending a short period of time in prison.
But despite their public image behind the scenes both are dedicated fathers.
Hours before Mayweather walked out to fight Saul Alvarez in front of celebrities like Denzel Washington and Jack Nicholson, I was 5,000 miles away with fellow former Premiership stars Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby.
Leon is one of my best mates and it’s a friendship we established in our early football days.
I was part of Team McKenzie on Saturday and also helped in his training camp.
I watched up close as Leon put himself through tough workouts.
Seeing him finish sparring with his nose bleeding reminded me of some of our battles on the pitch!
Before the fight it was brilliant to listen to Duke going through the fight plan.
He laid out the fight and told Leon about his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
Duke’s very articulate and you can see why he is one of the country’s best boxing pundits.
Clinton was less vocal, but when he spoke it was spot on.
Even though his voice is deep and commanding, you can still sense the protective and apprehensive father in his voice.
I did anything to help, which included fetching ice and giving the DJ the entrance music.
There was a brilliant atmosphere ringside and the place was full.
While Mayweather walked out with rapper Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber as part of his entourage, known as ‘The Money Team’, I was asked by Leon to walk out with him.
I did so along with his 16-year-old son Kasey, his two cousins and ex-teammate Huckerby.
Leon’s opponent was tough Polish journeyman Robert Studzinski over four rounds.
Leon boxed brilliantly and the fight went just as his uncle envisioned.
The final round saw him knocking down his opponent, who apparently has never been on the floor.
The ref scored the fight 40-35, having Leon win every round.
Having the McKenzie boxers past and present stood together in the ring was a great sight and was appreciated by everyone inside Epic Studios.
A great evening followed with Leon’s friends and family gathering to watch Mayweather in the early hours show just why for many he is the best boxer on the planet.
So with both fighters being so different, but having plenty in common this particular story ends with them both unbeaten and continuing on their careers.
I’m a big fan of both, but I am very proud to call one of them my friend.
As for me, I will continue to watch from outside the ring.
I have no intention of having someone trying to punch me in the face.
Comments are closed on this article.