HOW HE DID IT Mayweather's Mastery Explained

BY Lee Wylie ON September 19, 2013
PDFPrintE-mail

MayweatherAlvarez Hogan62 c9932Floyd Mayweather moved one step closer towards finishing his professional boxing career with an unbeaten record after clearly outpointing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in what was the biggest boxing event of 2013 on Saturday night.

Prior to the fight, I believed Canelo's intelligence, size, power, patience, and explosiveness were destined to give Floyd his toughest outing since narrowly escaping with a “unanimous decision win” over Jose Luis Castillo back in 2002.

More than that, I did the unthinkable and picked Canelo to “shock the boxing world” and pull off an upset for the ages.

I was wrong.

Instead, it was more of the same for Floyd—and for all of us sitting watching at home or at ringside—as he routinely boxed his way to a majority decision victory in a fight devoid of any real action or drama. While Alvarez always carried the punch that could have potentially ended the fight at any given moment, he never really came close to breaking down Mayweather’s nonporous defense at any stage during the night.

Although it was far from a career best performance (as some have rashly claimed), Mayweather did put forth a quite beautiful display of boxing that included many of the nuances that set him apart from every single one of his current peers at the moment.

Very briefly then, rather than simply regurgitate many of Mayweather’s signature techniques and tendencies (i.e. rolling of the lead shoulder, fade counter etc.) that I previously discussed in part one of my two part pre-fight analysis, I shall instead be focusing on some of the more subtle features of Mayweather’s game that quite often go unnoticed.

Today I shall be taking a look at Floyd Mayweather’s understanding of range and his probing jab.

Often it is said that success in any endeavor depends upon being in the right place at the right time. This is especially true in boxing. Even if one knows thousands of techniques and can execute each one flawlessly, none will be of any use if they fail to reach the intended target.

When watching Mayweather in the ring, most seem to believe they are witnessing nothing but outrageous speed and reflexes, but the truth is that while Floyd has both of these in abundance, his dominance in the ring comes down to a mastery of what I believe to be—along with timing—the most important aspect of boxing: control of range.

Mayweather knows precisely how to position himself so that his attacks have the greatest probability of landing on his opponent. More importantly, he also knows how to position himself so that his opponent’s attacks have the least probability of landing on him.

Being able to manage distance in a fight doesn’t necessarily mean one must always keep the opponent on the outside. While this is obviously true if one is looking to keep the opponent on the end of a jab all night long, controlling the range of a fight can also have an adverse meaning.

A lot of people tend to think of staying out of range as being the safest place to be inside a boxing ring. Obviously being out of range is a good defensive measure, but in doing so, one may inadvertently place one’s self on the very end of the opponent’s punch, where it does the most damage. For example, because speed and power need room to generate, I’d consider being on the inside with Thomas Hearns a far safer place to be in as opposed to loitering on the outside where the difference between being out of range and being on the end of a right cross is just one short step.

This is where Mayweather’s appreciation of ring placement truly comes into its own.

Many criticized Canelo for employing a strategy that seemingly neglected his natural advantages in size and weight. However, for anyone who had seen him fight before, it was obvious that his best and most dangerous work was done at mid-range when throwing his imaginative combinations and when looking to land counters.

Instead of using his footwork to keep Canelo mobile and from getting set (which he did later on in the fight after Canelo began pressing the attack once he realized he wasn’t quick enough to try and counter Floyd in center ring), Mayweather spent the first part of the fight standing right in front of his man. From the opening bell, it was apparent that Mayweather’s initial plan was to get off first and restrict Alvarez’s ability to throw anything back in return. Slightly out of range, Mayweather would edge forward before connecting with either a jab or right hand lead, and then immediately force a clinch to prevent Alvarez from retaliating.

mayweather tricks19092013 8223f

                                           Mayweather searches for openings in Canelo’s guard.

mayweather

                                                       Floyd threads a jab between Canelo’s gloves.

mayweather tricks vs Canelo

                                            Anticipating Canelo’s counter, Floyd ducks underneath…

mayweather tricks19092013 3 3d12a

                                                        …and holds on, forcing the referee to intervene.

Mayweather continued to land stiff jabs and right hand leads on Alvarez. Most had expected Floyd to be on his back foot from the very beginning, but here he was, inching forward, getting off first, and smothering any chance Canelo had of throwing an effective counter—a tactic that nullified Canelo’s A-game and put a huge dent in his early confidence.

floyd mayweather

                                            Mayweather closes in on Canelo.

mayweather vs Canelo

                                            Mayweather lands a straight right hand…

mayweather tricks19092013 6 a3261

                                                       …then immediately dives underneath…

Mayweather vs Canelo

                                                        …and forces Canelo to hold.

Never really coming to terms with Floyd’s constant flirtation with the pocket, Alvarez always found Mayweather either too far away to be hit, or too close to be hit with his best weapons. Essentially, this was the story of the fight.

mayweather vs Canelo

                                                    Alvarez is looking to create an opening.

mayweather tricks19092013 9 ea13b

              Reacting to Canelo’s feint, Floyd pushes off his front foot and moves out of range.

mayweather tricks19092013 10 59d76

                                           Mayweather advances forward and re-enters the pocket.

mayweather tricks19092013 11 0e6ed

                 Just as Canelo is thinking about going on the offensive, Mayweather lands a jab…

mayweather tricks19092013 12 ce327

                                                …instantly ducks underneath… 

mayweather tricks19092013 13 43ba6

      …and falls into a clinch, thus preventing any attempted counter or further attack from Alvarez.

In his treatise on boxing Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense Jack Dempsey strongly emphasized that when it comes to the jab, the lead hand should be reserved almost exclusively for delivering what he termed “lead jolts” and should never be used for “fluffing” jabs that are used to “tap, slap, flick, paw or paint”.

Well sorry, Mr. Dempsey, but as Floyd has shown during many of his most recent outings, a light, non-contact “probing” jab can be a great way to offset the opponent’s timing and create openings.

What I find truly astonishing is that the world’s greatest pound-for-pound fighter is still evolving, becoming more and more unorthodox with each passing fight.

Floyd will, of course, step in behind a regular jab and use it for its typical purpose—to establish range and prevent the opponent from getting to the inside position—but Floyd now regularly uses a “blinding” or “flicker” jab (the terminology is far from universal) to occupy and manipulate his opponent’s guard in order to set up his straight rights and left hooks, of which, nobody seems to be able to defend against.

For further reading on Mayweather’s probing lead hand I suggest reading my post fight analysis on the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero fight. http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/articles-frontpage/16611-how-he-did-it-mayweathers-scintillating-display

Here is an example of Mayweather using his lead hand to serve as a distraction for his body jab, which in turn, is used to set up a follow-up attack:

mayweather tricks19092013 14 74777

                                            Mayweather and Alvarez are posturing in the center of the ring.

mayweather tricks19092013 15 f07e4

                                                        Floyd distracts Canelo with a “blinding” jab.

mayweather tricks19092013 16 569dc

Floyd drops low and lands a body jab. Notice how Canelo has lowered his guard to try and stuff it.

mayweather tricks19092013 17 73ebd

Mayweather takes advantage of Canelo’s low guard by following up with a right hand to the head.

Mayweather’s entrancing lead hand continued to befuddle Alvarez throughout the fight. Below is an example of Mayweather tapping Alvarez on the head, so that when Canelo retaliates, he affords Mayweather with a momentary opening that he can exploit.

mayweather tricks19092013 18 f5a1c

                                              Mayweather looks to distract Canelo with his lead hand.

mayweather tricks19092013 19 93e33

                     Floyd touches the top of Canelo’s head with an extended lead glove.

mayweather tricks19092013 20 a133b

        Reacting to Mayweather’s unusual tactic, Canelo angrily swipes Mayweather’s lead glove away.

mayweather tricks19092013 21 88aac

Mayweather takes advantage of Canelo’s defensive lapse and connects with a right hand down the middle.

Regardless of who he has ever fought or sparred with, I can guarantee that young Canelo will have never had anyone dare to stand right in front of him and try to tap him on the gloves or head in an attempt to pry open his guard. Below is yet another example of Mayweather’s antagonizing lead hand tactics.

mayweather tricks19092013 22 160be

                                            Mayweather and Canelo are looking for openings.

                                 mayweather tricks19092013 23 9956b

                                     Mayweather touches Canelo’s rear hand with his lead glove.

                            mayweather tricks19092013 24 c8e06

                             This time, Mayweather touches Canelo’s lead hand with his lead glove.

                              mayweather tricks19092013 25 3c0a0

                                   Taking the bait, Canelo tries to swat down Mayweather’s lead hand…

mayweather tricks19092013 26 ceb79                                                      

 …and gets nailed with a hard right.

As these examples clearly illustrate, much of what Mayweather does inside the ring is just as much mental as it is physical. Floyd's unorthodoxy along with his elite level timing and understanding of range makes him nigh on impossible for today’s fighters to try and fathom out.

Right now, Mayweather looks as close to unbeatable as one can possibly get. Because of what is currently out there at the moment, it doesn’t look like his “0” will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Comment on this article

amayseng says:

good breakdown as usual..

floyd is a master and canelo is a novice....no chance, no shot , no challenge....

canelo had some early success landing some good body shots, even one -twos to the body scoring and pushing

floyd back... then he got away with it and with for countering the head of floyd which was never found..

canelo didnt adjust, at all......instead of improving and making changes he just looked worse and worse..


you can NOT outbox the master boxer.....canelo lost this fight before he threw one punch...

mad respect for floyd for whooping him

Radam G says:

Ditto, A-seng! Nuff said! Holla!

Carmine Cas says:

Canelo ate that right hand all night long, he just kept walking into it. Trainers should check the universe for game plans before jumping in the square circle.

amayseng says:

haha CC


another thing, for the last five years floyd has been throwing that lead right and stepping to his right..

floyd adjusted before the fight and did not do this...

canelo was probably out of sorts

brownsugar says:

It was amazing. You could hear the audible pop of Canelo's blistering counters and combinations whether they hit the mark, Floyd's arms, his gloves or just bounced harmlessly off the ropes. But whether or not Canelo's missiles landed with any consequence, Floyd's poker face and body language never acknowledged its effectiveness. For a fighter who was second only to Floyd on Compuboxes +- punch stat list for accurate offence/effective defence, it must be frustrating for Canelo to have his defense picked apart with such regularity.

It's fascinating to watch Floyd work in the ring... He is always poised and in character 100% of the time
His body language silently imparts a story to the audience called "The Best Ever"... While his hands and body language perform subtle misdirections usually reserved for masters of illusion like David Copperfield.... Or Street hustlers playing "Three Card Molly" on the subway. Everybody knows the mark gets to win the first $20.00....but by the time the game is over, he'll drop $200.00 before he leaves the train.

The same can be said in regards to Mayweather's opponent.

It's like the whole audience can see the scam, they already know the ending to the story...

And we're all in on the joke.

But the sucker keeps betting on what he's always done before..
Canelo bets on his proven prestige of being the best junior middleweight in the world....stubbornly and grudgingly...... He becomes blinded by his own grandiose ambition

Tickets sell out overnight.
Standing room only.
For one extravagant night the whole world and all its issues are placed on Pause.

Its not until the day after the fight that we get reports of a $41 million dollar hiest performed in the full sight of millions of witnesses.

Didn't Mayweather say to his entourage on "All Access" while training for media day....

"Yawl are just thieves, but I rob Banks!!!! Lol."

It was a fight that was a privilege to watch.

brownsugar says:

Best analysis I've read from Mr Wylie.

gibola says:

To me it was a slightly sharper PBF, but still the same old PBF and Canelo didn't seem to commit to any kind of strategy to deal with the challenges he knew he faced coming in. His people talked a good fight but his tactics were simply never going to get the job done. Canelo doesn't pressure, he boxes. Canelo fights at a steady, but unspectacular pace. Going into the fight we knew he wasn't going to outbox or wear down PBF based on his previous performances. His people must have known they needed a plan that would involve Canelo coming out of his comfort zone if he was to have any chance. He had to take risks and really pressure Floyd, he had to throw a hell of a lot more punches than he threw against Trout, he had to really busy his jab, he had to be faster with his feet. If he wasn't going to try any of that or isn't capable of any of that he shouldn't have signed the contract. It might sound harsh but to me he looked to feint, counter and outbox PBF in the first half of the fight and failed. In the later rounds he'd have a go at pressuring PBF once or twice in the round and then be content to get outboxed. I respect Ricky Hatton's effort at PBF more than Canelos, at least Hatton had a plan and committed to it, he got KO'd but at least PBF knew he was in a fight. To quote PBF it was 'easy money' v Canelo. Please no more guys with no chance v PBF, especially on PPV. Danny Garcia is an excellent fighter I respect hugely - he won't win a round. I love Matthyse - that's a mismatch. Devon Alexander? No chance. If I was pinned to a wall and ask who has any chance? No-one really but he I'd take PBF v Bradley (if he beats Marquez), Pacquaio, Khan (if he beats Alexander), Golovkin/Martinez at 154. PBF v anyone else is the same mismatch we've seen time and again.

stormcentre says:

A lot of these "tricks" . . . Floyd uses . . . they're not new.

It is good that Mr. Wylie tells the masses of them, and I have no issue with that.

But the real story (of why Floyd's techniques can be defined with some air of uniqueness) is that, sadly, many fighters these days don't learn, train and practice the full suite of defensive techniques - let alone some of the finer and/or more subtle points such as rolling with punches, punching in reverse, misdirection, parrying, blocking, closing the door on an attack, diagonal punching and so forth.

Usually - if not before - when they show they can spar and punch well for 12 rounds in the gym with some consistency, and if they have learnt the basics with a good amateur career; they're deemed as being ready to fight.

Perhaps it’s the trainers at the gym. I don't know.

Basically Floyd has taken the time to learn and practice all aspects of boxing, rather than just being proficient with punching/striking (and perhaps a little blocking) like most boxers, and this is (the basic reason) why Floyd is ahead of the rest – he has more options and those options allow him to dictate how the fight plays out as well as it allows him to change the pace. Floyd knows all this and that's why you see, when he does pad work, Roger always - not just now and then but at, at least, and at 70% of the time spent on punching - hits Floyd with the pads, disregards power punching, ensures Floyd doesn’t fully extend the arms as he punches (which can {in isolation} be described as practicing the wrong punching technique), and makes him constantly duck, dodge, use his eye-coordination, use evasive reflexes, become familiar with approaching objects and being hit as he punches, and in general ensures Floyd is just highly familiar with executing defensive techniques whilst he is being offensive - rather than practicing being defensive as a separate and/or integrated part of the same activity – like most trainers do when holding the pads, with say a high swipe over the head after a received combination to imitate ducking a counter hook.

When you know the entire gamut of defensive techniques that Floyd does, and you practice them as often and as a part of your regular punching exercises; all other things being equal, you will eventually become a superior fighter.

Not in the least as most guys these days believe they know enough boxing when they can execute most basic punches and a few of the basic combinations, deal with most nerves associated with a fight, spar with consistency for 12 rounds, and of course if they can put their hands up and block punches; which is sadly the total of what is usually called defense in most gyms these days.

By virtue of;

a) This.
b) The predictable manner in which most promotional outfits pick, promote, groom, underpay and progress fighters; whether they're ready or not.
c) The underestimated psychological impact and “loser/opponent” indoctrination that the opponent receives during the fight’s lead up, as the promotional films/advertisements are released, and as the “opponent” fulfills his contractual promotional responsibilities; including how they;
• Erode his general confidence and work to marginalize his performance.
• Deprive him of an energy source like food.
• Change his ability to remain confident within the fight during unexpected situations and punch-exchanges (even if his opponent did not hold such a speed and other advantage; but more so when he does) where the opponent may have otherwise remained steadfast when things did not result in the outcome wanted after a given exchange or passage within the fight. In other words, as soon as the “opponent” starts to get slapped around, rather than marching forward and still believing in himself, psychologically he is more vulnerable to giving in to believing that this is it now, and that he is just the opponent and is outclassed.

Floyd remains extremely confident during the fight and throughout the entire lead up to the fight in ways that put enormous pressure on fighters, particularly young inexperienced opponents – and this is pressure that they often can’t handle in the ring when things don’t go their own way - even if they have (seemed to) handled it before the fight.

And this is why, just before the fight and at the time when Floyd knows that most of his opponents;

a) Must surely be only just holding it together with the pressure of a seriously big fight, one where they know their promoter hasn’t stacked the deck in their favor in some usual way.
b) Are frustrated.
c) Are starving for a good meal.

He will publicly agitate in a manner that gets under their skin even if they haven’t already put a noose around their own neck with something they have said as a result of the all access cameras being around them all the time.

For the Canelo fight this final piece of agitation to confirm Alvarez went into the ring as pressured and as uneasy as possible, was achieved with the claim - that ricocheted through the All Access promos and the internet – that Alvarez’ management were idiots for letting Saul and/or offering him to Mayweather as an opponent that would lose a few pounds.

It mattered not to TMT whether the claim was true or not. In fact it would have better effect if it were not, even though it probably was not untrue.

The Shadow says:

A lot of these "tricks" . . . Floyd uses . . . they're not new.

It is good that Mr. Wylie tells the masses of them, and I have no issue with that.

But the real story (of why Floyd's techniques can be defined with some air of uniqueness) is that, sadly, many fighters these days don't learn, train and practice the full suite of defensive techniques - let alone some of the finer and/or more subtle points such as rolling with punches, punching in reverse, misdirection, parrying, blocking, closing the door on an attack, diagonal punching and so forth.

Usually - if not before - when they show they can spar and punch well for 12 rounds in the gym with some consistency, and if they have learnt the basics with a good amateur career; they're deemed as being ready to fight.

Perhaps it’s the trainers at the gym. I don't know.

Basically Floyd has taken the time to learn and practice all aspects of boxing, rather than just being proficient with punching/striking (and perhaps a little blocking) like most boxers, and this is (the basic reason) why Floyd is ahead of the rest – he has more options and those options allow him to dictate how the fight plays out as well as it allows him to change the pace. Floyd knows all this and that's why you see, when he does pad work, Roger always - not just now and then but at, at least, and at 70% of the time spent on punching - hits Floyd with the pads, disregards power punching, ensures Floyd doesn’t fully extend the arms as he punches (which can {in isolation} be described as practicing the wrong punching technique), and makes him constantly duck, dodge, use his eye-coordination, use evasive reflexes, become familiar with approaching objects and being hit as he punches, and in general ensures Floyd is just highly familiar with executing defensive techniques whilst he is being offensive - rather than practicing being defensive as a separate and/or integrated part of the same activity – like most trainers do when holding the pads, with say a high swipe over the head after a received combination to imitate ducking a counter hook.

When you know the entire gamut of defensive techniques that Floyd does, and you practice them as often and as a part of your regular punching exercises; all other things being equal, you will eventually become a superior fighter.

Not in the least as most guys these days believe they know enough boxing when they can execute most basic punches and a few of the basic combinations, deal with most nerves associated with a fight, spar with consistency for 12 rounds, and of course if they can put their hands up and block punches; which is sadly the total of what is usually called defense in most gyms these days.

By virtue of;

a) This.
b) The predictable manner in which most promotional outfits pick, promote, groom, underpay and progress fighters; whether they're ready or not.
c) The underestimated psychological impact and “loser/opponent” indoctrination that the opponent receives during the fight’s lead up, as the promotional films/advertisements are released, and as the “opponent” fulfills his contractual promotional responsibilities; including how they;
• Erode his general confidence and work to marginalize his performance.
• Deprive him of an energy source like food.
• Change his ability to remain confident within the fight during unexpected situations and punch-exchanges (even if his opponent did not hold such a speed and other advantage; but more so when he does) where the opponent may have otherwise remained steadfast when things did not result in the outcome wanted after a given exchange or passage within the fight. In other words, as soon as the “opponent” starts to get slapped around, rather than marching forward and still believing in himself, psychologically he is more vulnerable to giving in to believing that this is it now, and that he is just the opponent and is outclassed.

Floyd remains extremely confident during the fight and throughout the entire lead up to the fight in ways that put enormous pressure on fighters, particularly young inexperienced opponents – and this is pressure that they often can’t handle in the ring when things don’t go their own way - even if they have (seemed to) handled it before the fight.

And this is why, just before the fight and at the time when Floyd knows that most of his opponents;

a) Must surely be only just holding it together with the pressure of a seriously big fight, one where they know their promoter hasn’t stacked the deck in their favor in some usual way.
b) Are frustrated.
c) Are starving for a good meal.

He will publicly agitate in a manner that gets under their skin even if they haven’t already put a noose around their own neck with something they have said as a result of the all access cameras being around them all the time.

For the Canelo fight this final piece of agitation to confirm Alvarez went into the ring as pressured and as uneasy as possible, was achieved with the claim - that ricocheted through the All Access promos and the internet – that Alvarez’ management were idiots for letting Saul and/or offering him to Mayweather as an opponent that would lose a few pounds.

It mattered not to TMT whether the claim was true or not. In fact it would have better effect if it were not, even though it probably was not untrue.


Nice! Astute observations about the ability of fighters and the mental aspect. The psychological element plays a far greater role than people think. I never really gave that much thought. Thanks for bringing that up.

jzzy says:

Right on the money again Lee, excellent analysis. Mayweather is something special no question. He took the kid to school and we
took the bait as far as believing Canelo could be competitive. The Mayweather's know the fight game, too bad there's no credible
opponent to really test Mayweather. Let's hope Pacman can get it together so we can have another big superfight.

kidcanvas says:

all i could do was shake my head when i saw you were picking canelo..based on what ? lol

brownsugar says:

all i could do was shake my head when i saw you were picking canelo..based on what ? lol



He wasn't the only one....Wylie picked him too and me...and about 40 million Mexicans...ain't no crime...its only boxing. Canelo is solid... But Floyd is amazing

Radam G says:

Maybe about 38-million, 500-thousand Mexicans, B-Sug. Because a mil 500thou from Cali, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, the P-Islands, London and Dubai were riding shotgun with me. I had to tell them to quit elbowing me. Hehehe! Holla!

brownsugar says:

Maybe about 38-million, 500-thousand Mexicans, B-Sug. Because a mil 500thou from Cali, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, the P-Islands, London and Dubai were riding shotgun with me. I had to tell them to quit elbowing me. Hehehe! Holla!


You is truly terrible RG.... Just terrible lol.....

SouthPawFlo says:

Like Bernard Hopkins Said:

Floyd Has a PHD In boxing, and Canelo has a GED

Hop says:

Floyd Has a PHD In boxing, and Canelo has a GED


JMM: "Put 'em together and what do you get? PED." (kidding ... maybe)

Radam G says:

Hehehehehe! Both of those posts were cold-blooded. Holla!

Related Articles

maidanasmoment
anyonewithcablecanwatchmayweatherwinthisweekend
mayweatherssuperiorphysicalitysaveshimversusmaidana
floydmayweatherdonaldsterlingandtmz
floydmayweatherfiguresoutargentinasmarcosmaidanalateinfight
canyousayrematchfloydbeatsmaidanainsolidtussle
isfloydmorelikebronerthanwethought
predictionpageteamtssspecialmayweatherormaidana
themomentsnotice
quotesfromkhanbroneretcduringundercardpresser

Latest Videos on BoxingChannel.tv

Facebook
Twitter
fight results
Subscribe to thesweetscience.com
Live Boxing Coverage
IBOFP

Who's the best Mexican boxer today?

8.6%
0.8%
55.3%
2.7%
8.2%
1.2%
0.4%
23%
Loading...