Jim Lampley, host of HBO Boxing telecasts, knows as much about Floyd Mayweather as anyone. Until Mayweather signed his six-fight deal with rival network Showtime last year, Lampley and his ringside cohorts over at HBO called Mayweather’s biggest and most historically significant fights to date, including wins over Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Lampley told TSS he was surprised as anyone to see Mayweather struggle so mightily with Maidana.
“I said on ‘The Fight Game’ I thought Floyd would win 10 or 11 rounds in a one-sided, unanimous decision…I thought Maidana had the kind of straight-forward, unsophisticated style that Floyd could easily take apart, and it didn’t happen.”
Lampley said it was Maidana’s unorthodox approach and reckless aggression that led him closer to victory over Mayweather than any other fighter had since Jose Luis Castillo fought Mayweather the first time back in 2002.
“The one thing I come away with, and it’s something I’ve observed several times…is that when a guy is a conventional fighter and has a technically sound and conventional approach, he’s trained in the gym to deal with everything that’s right in front of him. He spars, typically, with guys with similar skills and similar conventional approaches. But when somebody comes in and throws punches from all kinds of odd angles, over the top as if they are coming off a tall building, uppercuts from the floor, etc., etc., sometimes the very sophisticated and conventional defender has trouble with the sheer reckless spontaneity of all that.”
Mayweather won a majority decision over Maidana. Judge Michael Pernick called it a draw at 114-114. But Burt Clements had Mayweather the winner, 117-111, while Dave Moretti scored the fight 116-112 for the same.
Pernick and Moretti were probably closer to the correct call than Clements. The fight was close, and Maidana deserved to win at least four or five rounds.
“Now, I scored it 115-113, or seven rounds to five,” said Lampley. “That’s pretty close. But I also thought it was pretty clear that Floyd had reeled in the situation, particularly in the second half of the fight, and won it. But I thought that Maidana got the jump on him, particularly early on, by throwing many punches from odd angles.”
Lampley likened what Maidana was able to accomplish against Mayweather to what Luis Carlos Abregu was able to do against Thomas Dulorme, when the two junior welterweights met in 2012. Abregu was the underdog but Dulorme’s conventional approach wasn’t capable of dealing with Abregu’s aggressive unorthodoxy. Lampley said it wasn’t a one-to-one comparison, of course. After all, Dulorme is nowhere near the boxer Mayweather is, and Abregu knocked Dulorme out in Round 7.
Still, the condition of what happened in the fight seemed similar.
“An extremely determined Marcos Maidana was throwing wild punches from all angles, and the punches he gave Floyd trouble with particularly were the right hand that was coming way over the top and the uppercuts that were coming from down under. And Floyd can handle everything that is right in front of him. But sometimes you just don’t see that other stuff.”
I asked Lampley if he thought Mayweather’s effort against Maidana was any indication that the 37-year-old might be slowing down somewhat. Did this version of Floyd appear to be sliding down the slope a bit?
“No, because his hands were still tremendously fast, and he landed with great accuracy when he threw. As the fight progressed, he gained more and more control of the situation because he got a clearer picture in his head as to what was going on. He just got jumped in the first round by a guy who threw three times as many punches as he was throwing from all sorts of angles…it almost doesn’t even matter if they’re landing, your eye is on them.”
Lampley said the boos from the crowd afterward, a signal they thought the wrong man was given the nod, was something he’s seen before. He likened it to what Antonio Tarver did to Roy Jones in their first fight back in 2003 and what Oscar De La Hoya did to Mayweather back in 2007. Both Tarver and De La Hoya were able to pin their opponents up against the ropes at times, making it perhaps appear to those in attendance they were landing more punches than they actually were.
Maidana, he said, did the same.
“A great defender like Floyd doesn’t feel the need to counter every shot. He’s going to hang back on the ropes in a lot of instances, duck, dive, slip and stay away, but the crowd in the arena has the naked eye disadvantage of trying to decide which punches landed and which ones didn’t, all they see is the guy throwing and throwing and throwing and they’re assuming he’s winning the fight. I think that’s what happened to Floyd the other night.”
I couldn’t help myself in asking Lampley if he thought, as I did, that seeing Mayweather struggle with an oddball like Maidana would mean he might also be more vulnerable to a fighter like Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao, I reasoned, is the master of creating good punching angles, and he throws punches fast and furiously.
Lampley shut me down.
“It has nothing to do with what happened the other day, because Pacquiao is very conventional in his offensive approach. He throws punches from the same kinds of angles that most great fighters do. He doesn’t throw them up in the air or from the floor.”
Lampley implied Mayweather would have his way with Pacquiao should the two ever finally meet in the ring.
“What Manny throws, Floyd would see coming. And I also think the way Manny squares his shoulders to attack, combined geometrically with Floyd’s best punch, the right hand counter over the top, I think that Manny would be a sitting duck to that punch.”