Alan Dawson – London
An incredibly gifted boxer who is blessed with great athleticism, intuitive reflexes, defensive nous and counter-punching ability, Floyd Mayweather Jr is yet to be beat, has never been beaten-up and rarely loses a round. His body of work – from a bronze medal featherweight Olympian to current WBC welterweight world champion – is astounding as he slays some of the most notable names in the sport whilst acting as a magnet for major honours.
|Five Of The Best
|Genaro Hernandez – 1998
|Diego Corrales – 2001
|Jesus Chavez – 2001
|Arturo Gatti – 2005
|Oscar de la Hoya – 2007
Skills to pay the bills
There are two main types of defensive boxers… evaders and blockers. Floyd’s armour has elements of both but he mostly aims to block or parry punches away from his frame. In his younger years as a professional he employed lateral movement, but at 34-years-old he is beginning to show signs that he is less busy with his feet and, instead, blocks using his guard and also retains his upper-body movement.
The undefeated American, a Michigan man who fights out of Las Vegas, has perfected the Philly-shell guard and shoulder-roll technique. Foot movement is key for Mayweather Jr to effectively apply his defensive plan. He has a wide stance which ensures he is balanced and is able to use leverage with his own punches. He also controls the range between himself and the man in front of him.
Floyd protects his chin with a loose right glove while his left arm protects his ribs/solar plexus and is parallel to his shoulders. When an opponent’s right hand comes in over the top, Floyd rolls the lead shoulder (his left) to his right so the shot misses it’s target.
Floyd’s defence is just as effective in the middle of the ring as it is on the ropes. Should he take a brief respite from his own action and allow a fighter to come to him, he backs up onto the ropes and either catches rights with his left glove, rolls with the shoulder to block or leans his head back from high jabs.
It is also with this defensive foundation that he is able to launch his own attack – the counter-striking initiative. With his elbows tucked in, he can protect himself from an incoming hook shot to the body, but before his opponent can retreat out of the pocket, Mayweather Jr – whose inside game is often under-rated by fighters going into match-ups with him – snaps a left uppercut toward the chest of chin. Should he catch an orthodox jab with his right glove, he’ll then snap his own lead shot over his opponent’s arm that guides it to the chin.
By becoming so proficient in the defensive arts, Mayweather Jr has reduced an offensive fighter’s aggression into impotency: Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez, Arturo Gatti, Phillip N’Dou, Ricky Hatton and, most recently, Victor Ortiz have all been frustrated at their inability to land their punches cleanly.
Money May’s economy remains at peak
Mayweather Jr’s first world title win was in 1998 – his 18th professional fight, just two years after leaving the unpaid ranks behind, at just 21-years-old. Genero Hernandez was a two-time super featherweight titlist, the lineal champion and only had one loss on his resume at the time – to Oscar de la Hoya. The Hernandez versus Mayweather Jr match-up, was, pre-fight, deemed to be a 50/50 showdown but what transpired was anything but as Floyd dominated proceedings on his way to a tenth round retirement.
From that day, October 3, 13 years ago, Mayweather has accumulated a further eight world titles. A five-weight world champion, Mayweather Jr’s scalps are a list of who’s who in modern boxing: Corrales, Chavez, Jose Luis Castillo, DeMarcus Corley, Gatti, Zab Judah, Carlos Baldomir, de la Hoya, Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley.
In his first defence of his super featherweight belt, Floyd took on Angel Manfredy who had upset Gatti. Mayweather Jr recorded an emphatic second round stoppage, not because of a knockdown, but by virtue his attack was left unanswered by Manfredy. The win punctuated a perfect 1998 for Mayweather Jr and he received the fighter of the year award.
In 2001 – one of, if not the finest Floyd year – Mayweather Jr took on Corrales in a battle of the undefeated. Corrales received a brutal beating as he was dropped five times and his corner were forced to throw in the white towel after ten tortuous rounds of good-timing, accurate punching and stubborn guarding. Four months later, Mayweather Jr decisioned Carlos Hernandez before taking on Jesus Chavez – a future two-weight world champion.
It was Chavez’s first world title shot but Mayweather Jr had no intention on relinquishing his belt at 130lbs. Again, Floyd excelled on the inside as Chavez had no solution for the numerous uppercuts that kept on tilting the tough Mexican’s head back after Floyd repeatedly landed on his chin, with force.
His 2005 match-up with Gatti pitted defence against attack. Mayweather Jr threw Arturo off his game plan early, canvassing him in the opening stanza before toying with the tough Canadian for a further five rounds prior to a retirement. During the build-up to the fight, Mayweather Jr ripped Gatti by labeling him a “blown-up club fighter”.
It was deemed insulting and typical brash talk from Floyd but on that night, June 25, he made him look like one such was the gulf in class and skills between the two.
Despite all his earlier work it was not until a split decision win over de la Hoya that Mayweather Jr became widely accepted as the best boxer on the planet, regardless of weight class.
It was a changing of the guard… critics point to the split and argue the Golden Boy did enough to win, or at least obtain a draw, however, Mayweather Jr out-landed his opponent by 85 shots, including 56 power punches.
Pound for pound rank – 1
Few, if any, prizefighters could return following a 16-month hiatus from the sport, take on what was perceived to be a hungry lion before the fight (a big welterweight cat – Ortiz – coming off the back of de-clawing Andre Berto in a thumping victory) and win as decisively as Mayweather Jr did. Prior to September 17, he was unranked yet in one night he propelled back up the division and pound-for-pound charts – occupying second spot in both.
Mayweather Jr has many plus points for the argument that he should be number one… he is undefeated, is now a seasoned welterweight campaigner and nobody at 147lbs has come close to testing him (the de la Hoya split decision was fought at a super welterweight catchweight).
P4P rival, Manny Pacquiao, though, had a clear advantage due to activity, yet, with his November duel with Mexican nemesis Marquez, his grip at the pinnacle of the pound-for-pound charts came into question. The Filipino appeared fallible, defeatable and, therefore, was a stark contrast to Floyd who, despite his 99 problems, boxing ain’t – and never has been – one.
|WBC super featherweight champion
|WBC lightweight champ
|The Ring magazine lightweight champ
|WBC super lightweight champ
|IBF welterweight world champ
|WBC welterweight champ
|The Ring magazine welterweight champ
|WBC super welterweight champ