“I am the greatest boxer of all time,” said Floyd Schofield Jr., dispassionately when I asked him to describe himself to our readers.
But, do not mistake this young fighter's nonchalant sense of confidence as false bravado. The 19-year-old New Jersey native and his father/trainer Floyd Schofield Sr. believe in their brand.
This boxing duo resides in Austin, Texas, where the young pugilist is better known by “Kid Austin.” In his first year as a professional, Schofield Jr. is undefeated in seven outings. He has knocked out six of his opponents. He looks to add win number eight to his resume on October 22, when he challenges for the vacant NABF Junior Super Feather Title.
By today's standards, fighting eight times a year is a rarity, even for a first-year professional. “I eat, sleep, and breathe boxing,” said the Texas State Champion when I asked him how he keeps up with such a demanding schedule.
The branding of “Kid Austin” started when he was just in diapers. “I always knew it,” the dad told me. “I was a boxing coach, and he grew up in a playpen in a boxing gym. So boxing gyms and boxing has always been around him. I watched him while he hit the boxing pads and bags while he ran around in dirty diapers,” continued Sr. as he and Junior shared a laugh. “He was always telling me ‘Dad, I am the greatest boxer of all time' since he was like 3 or 4 years old. These are his words, I’m just going along with the journey.”
That journey started when Floyd Sr. was awarded full custody of his son. “His mother wasn't ready for kids, so she gave him to his grandmother, and I ended up getting custody of him,” said Senior. At the time, Floyd Sr. worked as an A&R (Artists and Repertoire) rep for a music label. Being an A&R specialist requires a lot of traveling. Therefore, the judge ordered Floyd Sr. to get a “normal job” before he would award him full custody of his two-year-old son. Floyd Sr. suddenly found himself having to simultaneously adapt to being a single father and a new job.
It wasn't long before hardships befell the newly formed family, and the Schofields were homeless within a year. “The system isn't set up for brown men with kids. They aren't used to that, so asking for assistance at that time, I couldn't get it, so we were homeless, and we just grind it up,” said Floyd Sr. with a stern tone to his voice. For six months, father and son would live out of their car and eventually a shelter for the homeless.
Floyd Jr. bravely faced these challenges with his dad at a young age and draws strength from those experiences today. “I don't want to go back to that,” he says. “And I don't want my dad to go back to that. He did everything and for me. So just to mess it up because I want to mess around and not focus 100 hundred percent? It wouldn't be very smart. So I take that into the ring, I have a family to provide for, and it motivates me even more.”
When I first saw Floyd Jr. fight, it quickly became evident why he believes he's the “Greatest Fighter of All Time.” He is everything we “boxing purists” want to see in great fighters. His lower body moves rhythmically with his upper body. He has a crisp and snappy jab. He stays true to form and makes every punch count. His feet slide-in for attacks and away from danger seamlessly.
In his pro debut, he destroyed his opponent with a perfectly timed left hook. It immediately reminded me of the left hook Sugar Ray Robinson landed against Gene Fullmer in their 1957 world title match.
Floyd Sr. taught his son everything he knew about boxing. “I knew how to box,” the father said. “I was taught that you can make money as a boxer or a trainer, and that's what I taught him.”
Floyd Sr took a systematic approach to teach his son the sweet science. He reprogramed his son's brain to feel involuntarily comfortable in a boxing ring. While he was a toddler, Junior would watch “Sesame Street” in a boxer's stance with his hands up as he moved to the rhythms of the songs.
Senior spent the first two years of his son's indoctrination to boxing teaching him footwork before he allowed him to throw his first punch. “He knows how to fight the five boxing styles in both stances, the three engagement zones, and the five defensive techniques,” said Floyd Sr.
Additionally, Floyd Sr. homeschooled his son. That way, they could meet the demands of training and travel to tournaments across the country. So, it's not tongue in cheek when Floyd Sr. says he programmed his son to box.
They are looking at “Sugar” Ray Robinson but with a way, better defense, mixed with Marvin Hagler,” boasted Senior. He continued, “I programmed him to be the greatest boxer of all time. Because I studied how Sugar Ray Robinson would knock people out going backward and how Hagler could switch up stances. The speed of Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran controlling the arms on the inside. He was homeschooled and programmed to do classic fighting, so in his brain, you are seeing all the greats mixed in there.”
So far, Junior's systematic training regimen has proven effective. He has won multiple national and regional amateur tournaments. He was named the most outstanding boxer in the Golden Gloves. He had competed at the amateur level over 200 times with only 18 losses.
Before becoming a professional, Floyd Jr. was ranked by USA Boxing as one of the top five amateurs in the country for five years consecutively. And he went to 7-0 with a stoppage of Roberto Almazan on August 20. Click here to watch his pro debut.
Boxing at an elite level requires a discipline and dedication unfathomable to most adults, let alone children. I asked Junior if he felt like he missed out on a chance to have a “normal” childhood?
“As a kid, you do feel like you were missing out on stuff,” he said. “As I got older, I realized I made a choice to get in it. I learned to love boxing. I don't miss out on anything because I can do stuff that normal teenagers do after my fights. I'm not into going out and partying. I mostly play video games and eat, that is enjoyable to me.”
A great sword is forged and molded to perfection before it can be tested in battle. We will see as this project plays out, is Floyd Sr an unheralded master swordsmith? Floyd Sr. sharpened “Kid Austin's” skills, he informs me, with top tier sparring partners. While still an amateur boxer, “Kid Austin” sparred current world champions like Devin Haney and Shakur Steveson. Apparently, the young pugilist fared well against the champions and even dazed current WBC world lightweight champion Devin Haney in their sparring session.
This led to a “battle of the dads” when Bill Haney (Devin's father/trainer) took to social media to dispel rumors that his son got “worked” by an amateur boxer. During an interview, Bill Haney said that “Kid Austin” was stopped by Devin in the first round of their sparring session. He also said they had to force the young fighter back into the ring.
I asked Floyd Sr. why he felt like he needed to “clap back” at Bill Haney. After all, it was only a sparring session.
“Because he was lying!” said Floyd Sr. “Because it's our brand! It's our company, and for one company to come out and attack our brand fictitiously, some people would've sued them in court. But we are not that type. I just came out to prove what he was saying was a lie. We don't understand why he did that. We have the same friends in the same camp, you could've called me if you had a problem. When we go in there y'all trying to kill my son, y'all trying to hurt him! That's the way I view it, but we still go in there humble. He wasn't even a pro yet! He was about to have his first pro fight when he went in there with these champions. They set it to five-minute rounds, they turned the heat up, he was fresh off the plane! They didn't even give him a day to get his body ready, and he did his part. They threw him in there, and I saw what he had in him. We took him to the next camp (Shakur Stevenson's training camp), and they were humble. Shakur wasn't really touching him at all. It just showed us that he was special. It just gave him the confidence to know, ‘if I can deal with these people y’all call champions and I haven't even tried, this is easy.’ And that helped him with his confidence. Floyd sparred all the champions right now, and he learned a lot from all of them. None of the champions that he sparred could touch him, and he hurt Devin Haney in the second round.”
I asked Floyd Jr. if these sparring sessions often get “heated” and turn into competitive boxing matches. Junior responded: “Sparring is for practice. It doesn't get heated at all. If you get knocked down, you get knocked down. But, don't get me wrong, if it gets heated, I'm not going to talk back, I'm just going to end it. But I would never get heated with someone on a higher level than me because they can teach you some stuff. But if it gets heated, it's not a problem.”
I wondered if any animosity developed between him and Devin Haney from the sparring session, and if this sparring session did anything to build his confidence. Floyd Jr. replied stoically, “No, I just caught him… It really didn't give me any confidence because my confidence is already built. It just gave me closure, like I can hang in there with these champions. I mean, I knew I was going to catch him with a hard shot, come on now. I'm not going to say anything bad about the man, but he keeps his hands low at times, and I knew I was going to catch him. So, it was just regular sparring to me, on to the next one.”
Floyd Sr. is grooming his son to become a world champion. He is confident that his son will be fighting for a world title within the next two years. In the meantime, “Kid Austin” has to continue to win and work his way up the world rankings.
I asked Floyd Jr. to tell us about his upcoming fight on October 22nd.
And in the same ultra chill manner, he answered all of my other questions. “It's a step-up fight, it's for the WBC NABF, and I'm going to win.”
On the flip side of that coin, Floyd Sr. is charismatic, assertive, unapologetic, and insistent his son will conquer the sport of boxing. When I asked what was next for Floyd Jr after his next match, Floyd Sr emphatically called out world-ranked featherweight contender Chris Colbert (16-0, 6 KOs).
“We want to fight Chris Colbert! Let's put that out there! Let's get a fight going on, talk to Al Haymon! After this fight, we will step up to the challenge and fight him. I guarantee that he will stop him within eight rounds,” said Senior.
In addition to boxing, Floyd Jr. is also an actor. He has been cast to appear in an upcoming motion picture. The Schofields wouldn’t say much about the project, but they assured me that it's a significant movie role.
My Take: Father and son duos have proven to produce some of the greatest fighters of all time. Hall of Famers Floyd Mayweather Jr., Shane Mosley, and Felix Trinidad were trained by their fathers. Currently, world champions Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, and Gary Russell Jr. are trained by their fathers. Based on initial impressions, I don't think the Schofields will be any different. However, it's still way too early to brand “Kid Austin” as the “greatest boxer of all time.” Heck, he hasn't even fought a meaningful professional fight yet. However, in my opinion, the Schofields share a seemingly indestructible bond unlike I’ve ever seen between a father and son in the sport of boxing. It has been forged in hardship and continually refined through its love for boxing. And that alone is enough for me to root for and follow them on their journey to boxing greatness.