With the welterweight bout between title holders Floyd Mayweather 45-0 (26) and Marcos Maidana 35-3 (31) culminating this Saturday night, a lot of attention has been focused on Mayweather's boxing style and dominance. And with that the cookbook analysts are drawing up battle plans and fight strategies; you know, the writers and analysts who basically suggest A + B = C. And when I hear those types belabor their points of what and what-nots Mayweather's opponents must do in order to beat him, it illustrates how little they know regarding fighting applications and how they apply in actual ring combat. What they don't understand, or in some cases refuse to, is that physicality will beat the cookbook recipe every time.
I recently read an article in the Macomb Daily in which boxing writer Marvin Goodwin stated that Maidana won't beat Mayweather because….”He’ll follow the same pattern as Floyd’s other victims. They start the fight tentatively, star-gazing at the Mayweather aura while Mayweather dictates the pace of the fight, breaks his opponent down piece by piece and ultimately wins.” This cookbook analyst thinks that Mayweather's opponents are “star gazing at the Mayweather aura.” The fact is, his opponents do their best work in the 1st round, as Floyd scopes them out. They become intimidated more and more as the fight goes on (the way that Canelo Alvarez did).
I've seen everyone of Mayweather's fights since he's become a superstar, beginning around 2008, which is when the Mayweather aura began to evolve into what it is today, and that's not what I've seen. What I've seen is championship caliber fighters start the first round with a plan and thought as to what they want to do – only to find that Floyd is bigger, stronger, harder and better than what they thought. They aren't standing there like a mummy gazing in awe. Here's another stellar capsule of advice from Mr. Goodwin.
“Mayweather opponents, it’s time to rip that script to shreds and take a risk. The ultimate plan should be to get Mayweather out of his comfort zone. Don’t make it a boxing match, make it a fight, a knock-down, drag out, alley brawl with violent intentions, because that’s what fighting is. Don’t tiptoe around, start immediately from the opening bell and make Mayweather defend himself from a fusillade of angry punches. Make him react from a position he’s rarely faced. He’ll either back away from the surprise attack, assess the unpredictable situation and and try to regain his bearings, or he’ll stand his ground and fight. Either way, he’s out of his comfort zone, and perhaps more vulnerable to defeat.”
Yeah, like there's a fighter around who could surprise Mayweather. The idea is idiotic, Floyd has seen it all. The above statement illustrates the cookbook perfectly. On paper, it makes perfect sense and if there's a fighter out there fighting between 147-154 who could physically apply the above plan, he'd stand a great chance to be successful and maybe even beat Mayweather.
I love how these guys suggest, get Floyd out of his comfort zone, make it a fight and alley brawl with violent intentions because that's what fighting is. Yes, that's what fighting is but these geniuses must not realize that Mayweather punches back, and it doesn't tickle. Getting busted in the face with a real sharp jab, the kind that Floyd throws, hurts, disrupts a fighter's aggression, and blinds him for a second to the point where Floyd can send a direct right hand behind it that is going to land flush. Then he re-adjusts his body and is either in a better position to hit you again or he's gone and the counter coming back is going to miss him. What so many guys who say Floyd can't punch don't realize is that he punches hard enough to keep his opponents off of him and prevents them from taking their liberties with him.
The cookbook might suggest that he's not Thomas Hearns when it comes to punching power, but the reality of touching hands with him convinces many of the opponents who fight him that they just can't walk through him as if he's handcuffed. Because if they could, someone would've done it by now. (Jose Luis Castillo came the closest in their first fight). As I've often said, boxers just don't shut it down and stop letting their hands go for no reason. The only thing that causes that, unless they're injured, is the guy standing in front of them punching back at him.
Sure, there have been fighters of the past who could've gone to Mayweather and forced him to fight them off, but there's no one fighting today between 147-154 who can do it, including Marcos Maidana. When Maidana is in the ring with Mayweather this coming Saturday night, he better have a big enough punch to make Floyd do things that he doesn't want to in order for him to survive the fight.
Also, he must have the means to deliver that punch without getting tattooed, beaten up and peppered in the process. If he can't execute the above he has no shot, none whatsoever, to even keep the fight close let alone score the upset. Some may suggest that if you parry Floyd's jab and force him to his right, he's vulnerable.
I could go on and on highlighting strategies that might get him off his game and make him more susceptible to defeat. But if the fighter following the recipe isn't physically skilled and strong enough to execute the plan, the plan is moot and the boxing laboratory wasted a lot of time cooking it up. When in doubt refer back to the two title bouts Marvin Hagler had against Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard in 1983 and 1987. The cookbook said Hagler was least effective fighting as the attacker and was his most effective fighting as the counter-puncher as his opponents pursued him. Yet, Marvin decimated a lot of fighters as a contender and champion who tried to counter him as he was carrying the fight to them.
However, when he fought Duran and Leonard, he looked very ordinary coming forward as he was getting hit with jabs and right hands as they were moving away and kept him turning. And that happened because both Roberto and Ray were physically gifted fighters who could be effective fighting in retreat. It's not a coincidence that they were the only two fighters who went the distance with Hagler during his seven year reign as middleweight champ.
There aren't many things Mayweather says that I agree with. But the one thing he has said repeatedly over the last few years is “there's no plan to beat me.” And he's right, he's very versatile and capable of adjusting to different tactics and strategies. The part that no one ever picks up on is, there have been fighters in the recent past who by just being who they were as a fighter would've either been a living nightmare for him or would've taken him apart. And that's because they had the skill-set and physicality to disrupt him and force him to go places and do things in the ring that he wouldn't want to do.
Roberto Duran: He would've pressured and mauled Floyd all over the ring fighting between 135-154. Duran wouldn't have been slowed, disrupted, neutralized or bothered by Floyd's offense or punch, he would've physically overwhelmed Mayweather both physically and stylistically.
Actually, his pressure and elusiveness would've forced Mayweather to rush his offense and made him vulnerable to Roberto's array of hooks and right hands to the head and body. In much the same way Jose Luis Castillo did during their first bout, only ten fold.
Sugar Ray Leonard: He would've made one adjustment had he fought Mayweather, and he's even stated it in the past. And that is he wouldn't head hunt against him, he would've gone to the body more, and Leonard was a debilitating body puncher. Leonard had the skill, speed, punch and fighting aptitude to better Mayweather at anything he tried. Other than saying Floyd was a better defensive fighter, mainly because he's not as offensive minded, what advantage would Mayweather have?
Leonard was faster, better offensively, punched much harder, was every bit as versatile and if toughness is a debate I'll go with Leonard based on his level of opposition and who he defeated during his career. Leonard wouldn't beat Mayweather because of a brilliant fight plan or strategy, he would beat him because he's even more gifted and skilled and had the physicality to better him at every turn.
Thomas Hearns: He would've been Mayweather's biggest nightmare. Hearns had such an abundance of reach and power that Floyd could've never countered him effectively without reaching for Thomas. Hearns could've stayed on the outside and pot-shotted him without ever being touched even if he missed. If a shot Oscar De La Hoya stymied Mayweather with his jab, Hearns would've punished him.
Against Hearns, Mayweather would've had to take some chances and go on the attack. However, walking into Hearns' power would've been suicide for him. Mayweather wanted no part of Paul Williams and smartly retired to avoid fighting him before Williams could really make a scene challenging him. And Williams was barely a poor man's Hearns. And just as it would be the case with Duran and Leonard, Hearns had the physicality and skill set to better Mayweather. No cookbook strategy or fight plan needed. Just being himself as a fighter would've got the job done. Even the three greats above couldn't surprise Mayweather as suggested by Marvin Goodwin, they were just monsters.
When all is said and done, unless Maidana catches Mayweather on the chin with a lottery punch Saturday night, he has no chance to beat him. Mayweather has already defeated two bigger and stronger fighters (Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez) than Maidana in recent fights who tried to bring the heat and overwhelm him. Cotto won four rounds against Mayweather and giving Alvarez every benefit of the doubt, maybe he won one round.
No doubt Maidana will try to overwhelm Mayweather and rock him with looping left-hooks and over-hand rights like he did against Adrien Broner in his last bout. But the difference will be he'll never get as close to him and will be peppered and tattooed much more on the way in. Once that happens and Maidana realizes that it's not by accident, his aggression will be impeded some and then Mayweather will be in a position to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants as often as he wants and then the route will be on.
Marcos Maidana will lose to Floyd Mayweather this weekend not because he didn't fight his fight or the right fight. No, it'll be because he wasn't good enough or physically strong and gifted enough to execute his perfectly laid out battle plan. Once again it will be shown for all the cookbook analyst that the plan is only as good as the fighter given the task to execute it. As Barry Tompkins once said on HBO, “I know how to dunk a basketball, but until they lower the rim, I can't do it.”
A lot of fighters today may know the recipe as stated in the cookbook to beat Floyd Mayweather. Their only problem is they are not physically gifted enough, strong enough or skilled enough to pull it off. The only way a less talented fighter beats a superior fighter is if he gets incredibly lucky (seldom happens) or that the better fighter isn't in shape or takes the guy lightly (those things never happen with Mayweather).
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com