Mayweather quietly shows generous side

I've certainly been known to give Floyd Mayweather Jr. grief for his opponent selections in recent years and for his usual refusal to give a straight answer to many basic boxing-related questions, and I've certainly placed more blame on him than anyone else that the fight with Manny Pacquiao hasn't happened yet.

But I'm also one to give credit where credit is due, and Mayweather deserves credit. This isn't about his being a great fighter, which he is. This is about his softer, charitable side, which he does have -- even if he doesn't flaunt it.

On June 7, former two-time junior lightweight champion Genaro Hernandez died at age 45 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was a beloved figure in boxing circles, known for his humility, friendly nature and everyman attitude. Hernandez was the rare exception in boxing in that you can't find anyone to say a bad word about him.

On Monday, Hernandez's family held his funeral in East Los Angeles, where people from his community and throughout boxing packed the church to honor the former champion, the husband, the son, the brother, the friend and the father of two.

As a pro fighter, Hernandez made a good living, but he never raked in huge money. Never made a million-dollar purse. Not even close. When he retired in 1998, he had to continue working. He made ends meet doing television commentary, mostly for promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank cards. He also worked as a punch counter for CompuBox.

It was Arum who, with no fanfare, covered most of the medical costs associated with Hernandez's cancer treatment. That was a classy move and his assistance, I am sure, was much appreciated.

As much as Arum and Mayweather detest each other, it's clear they can agree on one thing -- a mutual admiration and respect for Hernandez. Arum paid the medical bills and Mayweather, also without fanfare, relieved the Hernandez family of another financial burden when he picked up the cost of Hernandez's funeral, simply out of the goodness of his heart.

Mayweather knew Hernandez, but it's not like they were buddies. When Mayweather won his first world title at junior lightweight on Oct. 3, 1998, at the Las Vegas Hilton, he did it by stopping Hernandez in the eighth round.

At the time, many thought that Mayweather, in only his 18th pro fight, was biting off a bit more than he could chew at that early stage of his career by taking on such a respected champion.

But Mayweather cruised. That dominant win against Hernandez was the start of Mayweather's run to world titles in five divisions. It was also the final fight, in the ring anyway, for Hernandez, who retired after the bout.

Mayweather is often branded the bad guy, which is sometimes deserved given his long list of outside-the-ring legal problems. In fact, he currently faces a litany of charges in two criminal cases in Las Vegas.

The man with the self-issued nickname of "Money" also loves to flaunt his wealth, which can rub people the wrong way, especially in these difficult economic times.

With his brash talk, Mayweather revels in playing the villain role in his fights in order to help sell pay-per-view subscriptions, which he will undoubtedly do again in the coming weeks when the promotion for his Sept. 17 welterweight title fight against Victor Ortiz kicks off.

But, like everyone, Mayweather isn't always what he seems. He can't be -- and shouldn't be -- judged in overly simplistic terms. When he heard about Hernandez's passing, he insisted on picking up the tab for the funeral, no questions asked about expenses. Whatever the Hernandez family needed, Mayweather would foot the bill.

Mayweather seeks publicity for just about everything, but not for this act of kindness. When word began to circulate that Mayweather was paying the expenses, I checked with Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's longtime adviser, to see if that was true.

Sure was.

"Quietly, he took care of it," Ellerbe said. "As soon as he found out about it, he called and asked me to find out the details so he could help out."

Ellerbe proceeded to get in touch with Rudy Hernandez, Genaro's brother, to tell him what Mayweather wanted to do.

"There was about a minute of silence on the phone, but he was appreciative," Ellerbe said. "He told me what he thought it was going to cost, and I said Floyd was going to take care of it. Floyd likes to do things like that. That's just the type of person he is. He has done things like this over the last 10 years -- and I am not exaggerating -- at least 20 times. I've seen a fan write to him or contact him through our website needing something like that done and Floyd would do it out of kindness. I can recall at least 20 times that he's done that because I am the one who handled the details.

"He doesn't like to take credit for those kinds of things, and he would probably get mad at me for saying these things, but it's the kind of heart he has."

Mayweather has sponsored turkey giveaways on Thanksgiving. He threw his financial muscle behind the National Golden Gloves tournament a few years ago when it took place in his native Michigan and was facing a serious budget shortfall. He has been known to hand out money to down-on-their-luck folks in Las Vegas, where he has lived for many years.

Paying for Hernandez's funeral came about because of the respect Mayweather had for him as a person and as a fighter, Ellerbe said.

"They always had a mutual respect for one another over the years," Ellerbe said. "When they saw each other, they always embraced. A ton of respect."

Ellerbe said Mayweather didn't attend the funeral because he just doesn't go to funerals, although he certainly was there in spirit, thanks to his generosity.

"He likes to remember people just as they were," Ellerbe said. "Floyd was saddened by the loss. When he found out, he told me to stop what I was doing and to find out the details and get in contact with his family members to let them know he was going to take care of everything, no matter what it cost."

The man called "Money" is using his to be an angel.