It should be of no surprise that one interested spectator at the Juan Manuel Lopez-Rafael Marquez weigh-in was featherweight contender Celestino Caballero. The Panamanian boxer-puncher has been itching for a crack at either man for years and reportedly emotions boiled over as he got into bit of a scuffle with Lopez’ team after each man had made weight inside the MGM Grand.
The reports have been varying but BoxingScene’s Ryan Burton, always a reliable source, claims that Caballero tried to get the attention of Lopez and that the two men exchanged words. Caballero would claim he was simply trying to talk to Lopez so that the Puerto Rican would agree to a fight with him, but things got out of hand as a shoving match ensued with a member of Lopez’ team before security could defuse the situation.
<— Slideshow: Tecate girls expected to be in Las Vegas for this weekend’s Lopez-Marquez bout
In the building with Caballero was his trainer Jeff Mayweather, who was present at the weigh-in because one of his fighters, undefeated junior welterweight Mickey Bey, will be fighting on the Lopez-Marquez undercard. Mayweather claims that he was busy conducting an interview while the entire situation went down and that he knows Caballero didn’t have any bad intentions.
“Basically it was just one of those situations where me and Celestino were doing interviews with the press,” Mayweather said moments ago. “And of course we were in a section where it was nearly all Puerto Ricans in that area. Celestino was talking to them all, but I had enough sense and pride to realize that it was just talk and that it didn’t mean anything.”
While it was reported that a member from Lopez’ team attempted to charge Caballero, Mayweather feels that the individual was far from a threat given his diminutive stature.
“Everything happened so fast,” Mayweather mused. “I don’t know who he was but some little guy, about five foot tall, came all the way down and tried to hit Celestino. And when he came down there was a gigantic bodyguard with him but the bodyguard was trying to make sure that the little guy didn’t get his ass whooped by holding back Celestino. If Celestino got loose he would have smashed that little dude. We didn’t need to make a scene with Celestino having this big of a fight coming up.”
Mayweather is of course referring to Caballero’s November 27th date with Jason Litzau at the aforementioned MGM Grand. Caballero was unable to lure any suitable opponents at 126 pounds into the ring with him so he had to move up to the junior lightweight limit to make the fight with Litzau come off. Mayweather feels that Caballero will come away with a clear win on the 27th, partly due to the work he has been getting in camp.
“He’s working with Mickey Bey, preparing for the fight,” Mayweather continued. “[Mickey] actually fought Jason quite a few times in the amateurs and who is now probably a much better fighter than Jason. So he’s getting top of the line work, world class work. He’s going to be ready.”
As for Bey, who faces off with journeyman Eric Cruz tomorrow night, Mayweather feels that his talent has thus far exceeded his accomplishments. Bey hasn’t fought in nearly a year and Mayweather feels that all of his problems have taken place outside of the ring.
“I’ve always said when it comes to Mickey, if he doesn’t become champion of the world, to me personally, he would be a failure,” a very blunt Mayweather claimed. “He’s that good. His talent is that good. He’s a guy that I think a long time ago would have been a world champion if he didn’t have all this managerial bullshit to deal with. If everything was lined up and everything was in the right place and he didn’t have to go through promoter to promoter, I would think he would have already been a world champion.”
As for the Lopez-Marquez bout, Mayweather will obviously be watching with a keen eye in hopes that Caballero can possibly lure either man into the ring with him in 2011. Lopez is the favorite in the bout but Marquez is a lively dog because of his great power and heart. Mayweather sees a grueling fight either way.
“They both look like they came in great shape,” Mayweather said. “They look ready to fight. I lean towards Lopez because he’s a great offensive fighter and he’s younger and he hasn’t been in as many wars. But at the same time that I say that, I could also see him tasting the canvas once or twice. I think it’s going to be a tough, tough fight.”
Newsflash: Miguel Cotto ready to scout Pacquiao and Margarito
As for any news on his nephew Floyd, who has an upcoming hearing in Nevada on Tuesday for charges of coercion and various misdemeanors, Jeff says that their talks have been low key.
“Basically for the most part we don’t talk too much about anything that’s going on with him,” Mayweather coined. “More or less he just wishes me well with my fighters. I have two guys fighting this weekend and I have another two fighting on the 27th. So it’s more or less just trying to encourage me with my fighters and that’s it.”
Outside of Bey and Litzau, Mayweather also oversees the duties of undefeated middleweight Brandon Gonzales, unbeaten welterweight Chase Corbin and standout amateur Kevin Newman amongst others. It’s a stark contrast from his early days as a trainer when he had to hustle just to get by and Mayweather is obviously excited about what lies ahead.
“It’s like I’ve been blessed. I think any trainer would love to have the group of guys that I have. All of them have so much talent and I just know our future is bright. The future is really bright for my team. The most important thing is creating that chemistry and that’s how I treat my fighters. I like to say it’s a great unit but it’s more like a family.”
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at Trimond@aol.com