Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

-Floyd-Mayweather-Jr.-Jua-001The records show that there have now been forty three plotted fistic attacks against boxing's impenetrable fortress since 1996 -each of them thwarted by one of the most advanced defensive systems so far seen in boxing.As of yet, there are no clear clues nor is there any definitive evidence -the Floyd Mayweather case remains open. Pump the jab, close him down, rough him up, don't stop throwing. Much like the infamous Roswell incident, everyone has a different opinion; just how do you decrypt and decode Mayweather's boxing database?

Floyd Mayweather is not like other fighters. Other fighters are self contained by their respective styles. Boxers, punchers, swarmers, sluggers -by locking themselves into stylistic boundaries, they limit their ability to adjust to what is in front of them. Trying to categorize Mayweather's style, is in itself, a daunting task. Floyd Mayweather is a counterpunching, intercepting, boxing chameleon -multi layered, he can alternate his technique, adapting it to his surroundings.An extensive trainer, Mayweather's hard work and dedication is now folklore. And yet, the biggest problem Mayweather opponents face in the ring took place during his childhood, not his training camp.

His pacifier? A boxing glove.

His crib? A boxing ring.

Boxing is in his genes. Like a thoroughbred race horse, Mayweather comes from a long line of boxing blood -his father and uncles embedded their knowledge into his boxing DNA. Floyd Mayweather has spent his entire life living and breathing the science, not the usual sweet science we are accustomed to, no. This,his own unique brand, is far more complex.

The Tao Of Floyd Mayweather:

To fully understand Floyd Mayweather, we first need to appreciate his art.Mayweather's approach to boxing is more like that of a fencer than a fighter. Most of the time, Floyd's emphasis is on blocking an attack, with an attack -this is the foundation of Mayweather's art. He is at the opposite end of the boxing spectrum to fighters like Brandon Rios and Jorge Arce, both in terms of talent and intent. Mayweather's approach to boxing is best described using what I term the three Is: Intellect, Intuition and Instinct.

Intellect: Mayweather's ring acumen is as high as anyone else's in boxing, trainers and cornermen included. His understanding of strategy, tactics and ring generalship are unparalleled in the modern game.

Intuition: Mayweather possesses almost a sixth sense when it comes to anticipating an opponent's next move or action.

Instinct: Mayweather's ability to take advantage of any mistake, habit or opening maybe his greatest asset.

Mayweather has combined the three I's in such a way, that he is without doubt the most cerebral, adaptable and reactive practitioner in boxing.Every action from his opponent will result in a reaction from Mayweather.

The Science Of Mayweather:

Mayweather's greatness may be open for debate; his craft however, is not {at least not from a statistical standpoint}. According to Compubox, Mayweather's 46 percent average connect rate, compiled during his last nine fights, ranks as the very best among current active fighters -Mayweather's defensive genius clouds the fact that he is also one of the finest offensive fighters in the sport {more on that in later}. It is not surprising then, that Mayweather's defensive numbers are even more impressive -Mayweather's opponents manage to land a measly 16 percent of their punches thrown, which is the lowest collective figure in Compubox's 4,000 fight database. These numbers equate to a plus/minus connect percentage rating of plus 30 percent, which is double the offense/defense ratio of his current peers {Andre Ward is in second place with a plus 15 percent connect rate}.These numbers are a graphic representation of what Mayweather opponents are faced with; Floyd Mayweather is in an entirely different class when it comes to the essence of boxing -to hit and not get hit.

Over the last few months, in preparation for the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto fight, I have spent more time studying Floyd Mayweather footage than I care to admit. Throughout the next part of this article, I will shed some new light on numerous Mayweather assumptions regarding his in ring behaviour, how he operates and how one should set about trying to upset him.There will be some strange analogies along the way, but rest assured, they have not been written for writing's sake. Each will have an important meaning with regards to trying to diagnose the best way in derailing Floyd Mayweather, boxing's unsolved mystery.

Forget what we think we know.

The following comment was taken from a recent interview.

Ricky Hatton: “I was clipping him and catching him here and there and a couple of rounds were even but I felt he was always calling the shots. He was slippery. I couldn't have hit him with a handful of confetti and even when I got a shot through it half-caught his shoulder or he half-rolled it or he moved half a step back or half-slipped out of the way. His timing was incredible. If I had him on the ropes and threw seven or eight punches, he blocked about six of them and then countered me.”

The next comment was offered when the question was asked, How do you beat Floyd Mayweather?

Emanuel Steward: “The main component you need to defeat Floyd Mayweather is to pressure him with a solid, hard jab. You have to get the simple things right, then everything else will fall into place. Floyd's a very talented fighter. You must pressure him and take him out of his comfort zone. The jab is the key. He's used to fighting his own fight, so again, the target is to force him out of his comfort zone.”

Mayweather, The Counterpuncher:

Within these comments, lie some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to understanding Floyd Mayweather. The biggest, and most popular of these is that one must apply unrelenting pressure in order to be in with a chance of defeating him. Many believe that counterpunchers are at their most vulnerable when confronted with severe pressure. The reason for this, I believe, is because of the late Joe Frazier's life and death duels with the great Muhammad Ali. Here's the problem. Ali was a mover, not a counterpuncher. At his apex, Ali would move around the ring and pick his opponents apart using his length, demon speed and lightning quick jab. Ali's style was not designed to be best against a pressurizing inside swarmer. That's why Ali fought Frazier differently, he stood his ground more, and put more weight behind his punches. Ali eventually learned how to tie fighters up on the inside, but never once was it his intention to invite opponents into that range, so that he could counter them -which is precisely what Floyd Mayweather does.

Contrary to perception, Mayweather is right at home when a fighter is right up on him, trying to pound away with hook after hook. Look again at what Ricky Hatton said -he would throw seven or eight punches, for only one or two to land. What makes you bad, makes you better. Do you really think Mayweather became the counterpuncher he is today by spending hours in the gym, refining his defensive skills by facing fleet footed fighters like Willie Pep? Of course he didn't. Mayweather's defensive virtuosity is more likely a direct result of him spending hours at a time with his back against the ropes, allowing fighters as large as light-heavyweight to pound away on him. Think of some of the greatest counterpunching performances of all time, fights like James Toney-Iran Barkley and Pernell Whitaker-Jose Luis Ramirez. The fighter on the wrong end of these performances did nothing but oblige their opponents by giving them angles and range with which to work from. The truth is, Floyd Mayweather is probably at his most comfortable in this position. By pressuring him, the opponent is providing Mayweather with familiarity.

Let's think about Mayweather with his back against the ropes -a defensive structure formed out of his left shoulder, a tucked chin behind it, a high right glove and a left arm across that barricades the whole construct. Now think of his opponent failing miserably in trying to land on him. Many have put this down to Mayweather's “Jedi-like reflexes”. Let's be real here -Jedi reflexes don't exist, anticipation through knowledge does, however.

I'm of the opinion that Mayweather has become an expert in realising punch patterns. Going one step further, I believe Mayweather knows exactly what punch is coming next, through probability.Imagine you are at a set of traffic lights and the light is on red. Through your own experience, you know the sequence that follows. Once amber is lit, you are given a heads up.Your reaction time to accelerate away is enhanced, and you can pull off within a heartbeat of the light changing to green.Now, imagine if suddenly there was no amber light, and the signal went straight from red to green.Do you think you could accelerate away at the same rate as before? The point is, at close quarters, Mayweather already knows the likely punching angles. If an opponent's chest is pressed against Mayweather's left shoulder, he is aware that nothing but a hook will be thrown, by looking at an opponent's body alignment, he can then narrow it down to which side the punch will be thrown. If an opponent throws a left hook, the next punch that follows will likely be a right hook, remembering that Mayweather's left shoulder has limited your punching options. In the same position, Jose Luis Castillo had some success because he was patient, varied his shot selection and didn't get in the way of his own work. Rather than make the mistake Philip N'dou made when he had Mayweather on the ropes, throwing a right hook, left hook, right hook combination {that Mayweather is familiar with when defending} Castillo instead showed a lot of discipline in this position, even taking a step back, leading with left straights, pausing then throwing another, followed by a right. Castillo alternated his attack pattern at this range. I can see how tempting it must be -Mayweather is so elusive in centre ring, that the proposition of having him right in front of you, with his back to the ropes,would look too good to resist. But remember, this is where most of Mayweather's seemingly endless stamina is salvaged, and his opponent's is sapped. Which leads into my next point.

The whole notion of Mayweather being at his most vulnerable with his back against the ropes came about because of Castillo's success against him {many believe he beat Mayweather in their first match-up}. While Castillo has came closer than anyone else in scarring Mayweather's perfection, you have to remember a few important points. Firstly, this was Mayweather's first fight at lightweight and on fight night, Castillo enjoyed a nine pound advantage over Mayweather, which is an awful lot to concede considering this was Mayweather's first venture at this weight. Secondly, Mayweather apparently suffered a rib injury prior to the fight,as well as a hand injury during the fight. And finally, Mayweather actually defeated Castillo comprehensively the second time around, nailing that demon in a bullet-proof coffin by standing his ground more,keeping Castillo in front of him and using the jab. Simply put, because of Castillo's relative success -like most of the heavyweights that followed Ali in the late 70s thought they had to be on their toes and move in order to box -most Mayweather opponents share the concept; they have to avoid centre ring and bully him to the ropes in order to have success.

Mayweather, The Attacker:

We have now heard the same statement over and over again. You can't win a fight with Floyd Mayweather by boxing him in the middle of the ring. This, I believe, is yet another misconception that places unnecessary doubt in a fighter's mind.I agree, Mayweather does seem to be at his most dazzling in the middle of the ring, when outboxing and outfoxing his opponent. However, I actually believe, Mayweather could also be at his most vulnerable at this range. It's just a case of dispelling the myths. Mayweather's understanding of punch patterns has lead to him being perceived as untouchable away from the ropes. What doesn't help is the common belief that to have success, you must pump the jab at him. I disagree with this theory entirely. The jab is the most common punch in boxing. Notice how I highlighted the word common. If you provide Mayweather with familiarity, you are providing him with a plan. {Remember, every action will evoke a reaction}. By sticking the jab at him, over and over, you are giving him something to key off of. Mayweather can be beat in the centre of the ring, but you have to have the right strategy to do it, a strategy that doesn't involve being overly offensive. Take a look at the Amir Khan-Paulie Malignaggi fight. I consider Malignaggi to be one of the better pure boxers in the sport. {Don't believe me? Have a look at his recent performance away from home against Vyacheslav Senchenko}. During the contest, HBO's Max Kellerman stated that nobody had ever outboxed Malignaggi in the centre of the ring, the way Amir Khan was doing on that night. I disagree with Max. I don't think Khan outboxed him, I just believe he out-thought him. Malignaggi, like Mayweather, thrives on an opponent feeding him with textbook angles with which to work from at a range that he is familiar with. Amir Khan did not oblige him. Khan was out of range, using his length, and then exploded in with power shots. Every time Khan came in, Malignaggi froze. His immediate response, being a defensive based fighter, was to defend. What we had was Malignaggi defending while Khan was attacking. But the key was Khan did not fight an offensive fight. Khan fought a defensive fight against a defensive fighter- a fighter who thrives on predictable offense, offense that has been embedded into him, when he was perfecting his craft. Khan's unpredictability won the fight. Not his boxing skills. Had Khan stood in front of Malignaggi, throwing conventional punch sequences,he would have been outboxed.

Mayweather, like Malignaggi,also thrives in the middle of the ring, because of his understanding of probability. If Mayweather is out of range, he knows that in order for an opponent to take the fight to him {the only way to defeat him, or so we've been told} and touch him,the likely punch will be an opponent's longest weapon, the jab. This is why Mayweather's opponents appear to give up early in fights. Because Mayweather has such an astute understanding of distance, and knows that the only way to reach him is through a jab, he is ready to release his right hand counter over the top. Again, we have been lead to believe that Mayweather's otherworldly reflexes are the reason behind his success in countering opponents in the centre of the ring, when in fact, it's sheer knowledge. Mayweather manipulates his opponent into releasing a jab.Again, it's not Jedi-like reflexes, it's just an old school technique that is taught called drawing the lead. Mayweather's anticipation is a direct result of an opponent throwing the punch that he knows they will throw.

Another statement that pollutes fighters' minds is be unpredictable, never throw the same punch twice. This is where Mayweather has pulled the curtain over alot of peoples' eyes. Floyd Mayweather, despite regularly limiting his offense to a jab or a right hand, is actually the most unpredictable offensive fighter in boxing. Now I know this sounds controversial, with fighters like Pacquiao throwing multiple punches from odd angles, but hear me out. Think back to the recent Mayweather-Cotto fight. During one of the middle rounds, Floyd Mayweather threw five consecutive overhand rights, and every one of them landed. How was Mayweather able to land the same punch five times in a row? Unpredictability. Imagine you're Miguel Cotto, you've been nailed by two of them, which is feasible. In your mind, you must be thinking that's twice now, another punch must be coming, I'm going to set my defense for a left hook… boom, another right hand. Ok, that's the third, there's no wa….boom, a fourth. Right that's it, time to mount some o….boom, a fifth. Do you see what I mean? There will have been no point in Cotto's life, either in sparring or for real, where any fighter dared to throw five consecutive right hands against him. This is Mayweather's most undervalued asset. Because Mayweather has mastered boxing, he understands that punch probability is arguably the most important part of boxing. He knows what to expect on defense, and what his opponents least expect, when he is on offense.

Think of Juan Manuel Marquez, a case can be made that he is one of the greatest combination punchers of all time. The problem with combination punching in rapid fire is it has a certain beat to it. Most combinations -like a jab, right hand, left to the body -are taught and are predictable. Take a look at Marquez against Mayweather. In the centre of the ring, Marquez unleashes his combinations in quick succession. Mayweather, in his defensive posture, picks them all off. Don't be fooled, there is no way any fighter can react that quick without knowing what is being thrown. Mayweather, like Marquez, has been taught the very same combinations,but only for defensive purposes. On offense, Mayweather throws intermitting shots. Altering the pace, altering the tempo. Making them almost impossible to predict or time. As a thought experiment, the next time you listen to a song on the radio, or in a supermarket, listen to the beat. By the time the song is finished, I guarantee, you will have learned the beat, even knowing the exact tempo once the song has finished. Now try the same experiment with some of Miles Davis jazz. His work is full of unpredictable rhythm riffs, making it all but impossible to memorize. Mayweather's punching is akin to a complicated jazz piece. He throws his shots sporadically, with no rhythm to them, making it nigh on impossible to time.

As you can see, I believe Mayweather's gifts are not really gifts, but rewards,as a result of his self expressed hard work and dedication. Don't get me wrong, Mayweather is also an athletic specimen. His hand and foot speed are better than good, and his power is also underappreciated. Nevertheless, there have been faster fighters than Mayweather throughout history-Hector Camacho, Meldrick Taylor, Terry Norris and even Howard Davis were possibly faster than Mayweather. Heck, with Gary Russell Jr, Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather may not even be the fastest fighter competing today. One thing I'm certain of though, is Mayweather is the most schooled fighter currently active in boxing. His counterpunching ability, anticipation, reflexes, defense and offense are not a gift from the gods. They are a reflection of plain old tuition. And just as Mayweather has developed a way of fighting that caters for one and all,with the number forty three embroidered on it,there will no doubt be a strategy devised at some point in the future, that will have the number one attached to it. Someone somewhere, will have it.

Beyond Mayweather's Science: The Strategy.

As mentioned here earlier, I have spent alot of time lately trying to dissect what Mayweather does in the ring, and in particular, his behavioural patterns and reactions to certain things. Upon watching Mayweather's fights, I was amazed at the lack of strategical variation in Mayweather's opponents. You have to ask yourself, is this down to clever match making? Or Mayweather genius? I believe it's more Mayweather genius, with a sprinkle of clever match making.

In all honesty, if Floyd Mayweather managed to retire undefeated, while still facing top competition, I'd be amazed. No doubt, he will take some beating, but with the right type of fighter and the right type of strategy,I believe Mayweather, boxing's most complicated puzzle, can be solved.

The following is a type of gameplan I constructed when watching numerous Floyd Mayweather fights, as well as other fights involving different fighters. A list of them will be at the bottom of this article.

Fight a defensive fight, give the counter-puncher nothing to counter. Mayweather likes nothing better than to dictate the range and pace, not concede it. Be out of range -the counterpuncher's range. Use the whole ring -don't be afraid of its centre.Allow Mayweather to go to the ropes, don't oblige him, stay disciplined, he wants you there. Feint, feint, feint again-Mayweather's instinct is to defend or intercept an attack, put him in his defensive construct, he is predictable in it, he can't win a fight by staying in it. Don't throw combinations, lead with power shots from the outside, he won't expect it. Use the jab, but sparingly -remember, he wants you to throw it, so oblige him, feint before you throw it, stick it in his gut, stick it in his chest, avoid his head, he won't expect that. Remember, he's a counterpuncher by nature; never pressure him,leap in, then back out. Single shots, he won't expect it -he knows combination sequences, avoid them. Turn him, move off to the sides. He's a technician, he's been taught conventional attack patterns, lead with a hook, an uppercut. But he's a defensive wizard, he will easily counter? No, he's a defensive wizard who counters textbook punches. Throw away the text book. Make sure HE is the aggressor, make him chase YOU around the ring. Mayweather doesn't throw while he is advancing -leap in, surprise him, he will fall back into that defensive posture, keep defense on his mind. Keep things awkward for him, he loves to be in control of things, keep the distance, fight a defensive fight, give him nothing to counter. He sets his feet before the right hand, don't try and counter it, you know it's coming, get out of range. The crowd is hissing, there's not much action? That's good, he wants you right in front of him, stay out of range. He's never fought this fight before. He looks puzzled. Mayweather has mastered boxing, but this isn't boxing in his mind. If you hurt him, and he goes to the ropes, follow him, but think of Castillo. Don't get wild, stay composed. Throw intermitting shots, you're in his range now. He's tough to hit, he's bending at the waist and dipping. Feint him, throw your next punch where you think his head will be next, not where it's at now. Go to the body, take a step back, see everything,stay disciplined. He wants you to engage, disengage him….the crowd is booing louder, shall I press him? No, that's what he wants, he hasn't been able to counter anything all night, you've given him nothing to counter.

Like I mentioned before these notes, this should be seen as a best case scenario for a Mayweather opponent.

Consequently, my opinion is far different from what most believe to be the correct way to fight Floyd Mayweather. The general perception is aggression, pressure, volume, avoid the centre of the ring, force him to the ropes and look for a big shot as he can't be outboxed. My belief is almost the polar opposite. I don't think Mayweather has faced an opponent who has brought this type of strategy to him. If I were to pick an opponent competing today around Mayweather's weight class, that could pull this off, I would have to choose between Sergio Martinez, Manny Pacquiao or Amir Khan. Each would have their own little advantage, that they could utilize to their benefit against Mayweather. Pacquiao's explosiveness, southpaw angles, lack of jab {Mayweather won't key off it}and power. Martinez' understanding of range, his ability to fight backing up, speed and power along with his generalship would prove problematic, as would Khan's in and out style, length and speed. If weights were aligned, then Yuriorkis Gamboa would be my top choice, as the type of opponent who could inflict the first defeat on Mayweather. I cannot stress enough, that I believe Floyd Mayweather is the finest boxer on the planet, but, as I've mentioned here before, styles do indeed make fights, and even Ray Robinson tasted defeat at some point. It's not inconceivable to think Mayweather could adjust and adapt to this type of strategy, but having viewed Mayweather's post hiatus fights on numerous occasions {Marquez onwards, it is evident that his Diego Corrales days are long gone. Mayweather, like all defensive movers as they get older, is a lot more static these days. That's why he now prefers to press the attack as opposed to using his legs to motor around the ring like the Mayweather of old.

Some may have came as close, but there has never been a perfect fighter in boxing.Mayweather is not a perfect fighter, yet he has a perfect record. That will likely remain perfect until someone constructs the perfect plan. Easier said, of course, than done.

—Follow Wylie on Twitter here.

—Compubox punchstats taken from

—Fights used constructing strategy: Mayweather-Corrales, Mayweather-Castillo 1+2, Mayweather-N'dou, Mayweather-Judah, Mayweather-Mosley,Mayweather-Cotto, Mayweather-Marquez, Pascal-Dawson, Khan-Malinaggi, Whitaker-Hurtado, Mayorga-Forrest, Young-Ali, Gamboa-Solis and Martinez-Dzinziruk.

Comment on this article

Facebook Comments