‘One Thing That We Can’t Play With Is Memory Loss’: Floyd Mayweather Gets Real About What Boxing Has Cost Him

Image Credit: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions

Floyd Mayweather has set the tone for future athletic generations as a boxer-businessman.

Self-proclaimed “The Best Ever” or “TBE,” Floyd Mayweather re-engineered the boxing business, making it favorable for the athlete. He learned from the successes and failures of his uncles and father, who were also professional boxers and champions, to master the fight game.

Mayweather’s Memory

As a promoter leading Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Mayweather left before the fight game destroyed his ability to function normally. However, recently, the sports entertainment mogul opened up about the harmful effect boxing has had on him physically.

“Now, I’m human and one thing that we can’t play with is memory loss,” Mayweather said at an impromptu press conference during the Davis vs. Cruz fight week.

During the WBC annual convention in Mexico City, Mayweather met rising boxing sensation, Jose Zepeda.

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Forgotten Sparring Session

While there, Zepeda said that he was Mayweather’s sparring partner at one time. However, Mayweather couldn’t recall the sparring session and took offense at fans calling him out for the slight.

Mayweather doubled down on Zepeda’s claims of gym glory against him before pivoting to the mental health downside of his career.

The undefeated boxing star finally broke his silence on this matter while he was in a fresh interaction with the media.

The Admission

“It was some little fighter talking about, who was he? (Jose Zepeda) He sparred with me. Okay, well, my thing is this, I’m proud of him for his victory.

“But if you’ve done something spectacular, when you sparred with me, I’m going to remember you. Now, I’m human and one thing that we can’t play with is memory loss. My grandmother died from it, my uncle Roger died from it. My daddy’s going through it so I’m only human, so if can I have a little memory loss, it’s possible.”

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The Problem With Boxing

Boxers are at risk for traumatic brain injury, due to repeated blows to the head. Traumatic brain injury can be classified as acute TBI, commonly known as a concussion, and chronic TBI sometimes called chronic traumatic encephalitis.

Many boxers experience “punch-drunk syndrome” and “dementia pugilistica.” However, neurologists have struggled to explain the slurred speech, memory loss, shakes, violent mood swings, depression and other symptoms associated with their profession.

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In the book, “Damage: The Untold Story of Brain Trauma in Boxing,” writer Tris Dixon explores boxing’s woes in more depth.

The Sad Truth

“It was only when I read ‘League of Denial’ about the NFL’s concussion crisis that I started to piece the puzzle together,” Dixon said. “I read about the erratic behavior of Mike Webster (who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s). He fell on hard times and ended up living in his car. I thought, ‘this is boxing.’ CTE is actually a punch-drunk syndrome. It was a big epiphany for me: ‘Hang on, the NFL are addressing this, but we do nothing in boxing.’ I’d been in boxing 25 years, and I didn’t know about CTE, tau protein, and things that should be a staple.”

He continued, “Fireworks went off in my head, ‘Wow, these guys worrying about the NFL could be worrying about boxing, which is far more dangerous.’ The NFL concussion debate started with the Webster case in 2000. Boxing turned its back for nine decades and we haven’t had our Webster moment yet.”

An Unfortunate Reality

Heavy sparring has been pointed to as a contributor to mental health issues associated with boxing. Mayweather famously stopped hard sparring and training as his career progressed into superstardom. He watched his uncle Roger Mayweather go through dementia before his death in 2020.

He was only 58, yet Mayweather was quoted as saying, “He’s only in his 50s, but it seems like he’s an old man in his 80s.”

Although he is considered the best boxer-businessman ever, Mayweather’s success came at a cost and is real.


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.