Method in the Madness: How Floyd Mayweather got the job done
Milan Ordoñez on May 04, 2015 06:06 PM
Photo credit: AP Images
“Sky is blue, Mayweather by decision, what else is new?”
The UFC’s Vice President for Public Relations Dave Sholler encapsulated the recently concluded mega bout in this perfectly-worded statement. The general expectation from fans and fellow fighters alike was that Floyd Mayweather would outpoint Manny Pacquiao to a convincing decision verdict.
While there were other outrageous claims of a knockout victory, fact is Father Time had already done a number on both fighters. Floyd’s last stoppage win was in 2011, and even the manner of which it was executed was questioned by many.
Evidently, fighters employ different styles, whether it be inside a boxing ring or an eight-sided cage. In Floyd Mayweather’s case, it was never about the stand-and-bang approach. In his 19-year professional career, you would never see Junior slug it out toe-to-toe with any of his opponents.
Ride or die, he will stick to his methodical approach of slowly picking guys apart, frustrating them through pot shots, and once he’s figured you out, fight’s pretty much his.
Agreed, that his method of boxing may not be fan-friendly, but the bottom line is, he gets the job done. Now that the dust has cleared, he has achieved his primary objective: to silence all his critics throughout this five-year roller coaster ride.
The thick line between “running” and playing defense
As mentioned, no one can ever expect Floyd Mayweather to stand toe-to-toe with any of his opponents. He never did, and at 38 years old against an all-action fighter, he never will.
The superficial notion about Mayweather’s style is that he “runs” from his adversaries. In reality, part of his game is to fully utilize his lateral movement as one of his main defensive tools. This is when frustration sets on for most of his opponents, and once it does, Mayweather capitalizes.
The key to Mayweather’s success in this department is his mastery of distance management. This is one of the most important tools that elite fighters use, because once he has dictated the distance, he controls where the fight goes.
Junior holds a significant five-inch reach edge over Pacquiao, and throughout the bout, he was able to take advantage of it by fighting from a distance he was most comfortable at.
From there, he was able to cancel out Manny’s attacks using either movement or clinching.
Again, not a fan-friendly strategy, but just that’s how Floyd Jr. operates. It works almost 100% of the time, and if you’re Mayweather, that is all that matters.
Here, Mayweather was able to cancel out Pacquiao’s power straight left by simply backpedalling to a safer distance.
If you’re a Pacquiao fan, the most frustrating thing to see was how he was made to look like a subpar fighter who was not worthy to be in the ring with Floyd Mayweather. Seeing him made to miss and chase must indeed be hurtful.
The Floyd Mayweather bag of tricks also includes the art of in-fight bluffing. Through subtle movements, he was able to make Pacquiao think that he was going to execute a certain way, but suddenly mixes things up, last-minute. It is similar to acting as if you were going to throw a ball at someone’s face to make him react, then doing something else that he least expects.
In this slow motion replay, Floyd made it appear as if he was going high with his right hand, but instead, he went for a straight right to the body. This specific tactic seems to be one of Pacquiao’s weaknesses, especially against an elite counterpuncher.
A similar ploy was done by Juan Manuel Marquez in the third round of their fourth fight in 2012, wherein the Mexican surprisingly landed a slow-moving, yet hard-hitting overhand right that sent Pacquiao to the canvas.
Being able to manage and dictate the distance also helped Mayweather befuddle Pacquiao, eventually rendering him ineffective. In this sequence, Floyd began attacking from a closer distance, wherein he landed a short jab-straight right combination. Shortly after, Mayweather opted to fight a little further away, but even then, he was still landing at will.
After all is said and done, “Money May” is now officially the “Greatest Fighter of this Era”, and 48-0 is now a reality. The five-year build-up may have left a good chunk of people underwhelmed, mainly due to the lack of fireworks.
But Saturday night’s recently concluded super fight is simply a strong reminder that boxing is not always a sport of highlight reel knockouts. Sometimes, it can be a less-spectacular chess match between two combatants, wherein the more intelligent fighter will almost always come out on top.
As for Floyd Mayweather Jr., domestic abuse cases aside, he was able to finally answer all critics that have been hounding him about Manny Pacquiao questions since 2009. That, in itself, warrants at least an ounce of recognition.
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