Saturday, 17 September 2011 20:46

Floyd Mayweather: Crafty or Dirty?

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Whenever a boxer is said to be "old school" it probably means he knows more trickery and tactics than many of the opponents he faces. Floyd Mayweather in the ring is as old school as any active fighter today.

Many of his applications in the ring are crafty, but some of them flirt with the rules, and he's been accused by a few people of being dirty. Expect some of the following tactics to be on display Saturday night, especially since Mayweather has a history of being more aggressive against southpaws.

The forearm and elbow:
In boxing, to protect yourself against an anticipated flurry from the opponent, it is wise to slide under his punching arm and close the gap between you and him. Mayweather often does this, but sometimes leads with his elbow and forearm in front of his body. This means he usually digs his arm into the throat and chest of the opponent. This, as you can imagine, makes it very difficult to stay focused on the task at hand when your balance is being challenged. It is also very physically irritating. Mayweather has already been penalized in the past against Jose Luis Castillo, one wonders if it may happen again in the future.

Making space:
Mayweather is an excellent space fighter, as one of my old coaches told me. To create space, he has no problem using the palm of his glove and wrist to push off an opponent who may be trying to tie him up. This allows him to move someone to a position where he can land a clean flush punch without worrying about being countered, since the opponent is, once again, off balance to throw anything significant.

Using his weight:
When a boxer's legs are gone, he is often a shell of his former self. Mayweather, with all his knowledge, knows this. If an opponent throws a punch and ends up at close range, Floyd will not hesitate to use his hands to pull them downwards, almost as if he is hanging on to them. When an opponent closes the gap with their head lower, Mayweather may also posture his body onto their neck, with his forearm and elbow as the support. All of these things can be painful and tiresome, as the opponent would be carrying the weight of two men on their legs.

Turn and twist:
Mayweather's signature posture is probably his shell defense. It allows punches coming over his left shoulder to glance off his head without serious damage, and the other side of his body is usually protected with a raised glove and tucked chin. To augment the difficulty of landing clean on him, he often leans far down to his right, meaning even southpaws may have to reach low and scoop to reach him. It also means his back would be more exposed to his opponent, meaning the legal target area is even smaller than normal. Ricky Hatton gestured during his fight with Mayweather that he was unfairly treated because Floyd turned his back to him in his stance, leaving him little choice but to swing for the back of the head. This costed the Hitman a point, at a stage where the match was still somewhat competitive.

Floyd Mayweather carried the Pretty Boy nickname most of his career. However, it is clear that he has no problem employing some roughhouse tactics when the situation calls for it. He is older now, and a little slower. To make up for the loss in athleticism, might we see more of these tactics used?

Frank Zhong

Frank Zhong has two years of collegiate boxing experience from UNC Chapel Hill, where he co-founded the National Collegiate Boxing Associatoin (NCBA) competing team for the Tar Heels. Ever since leaving official competition, he has continued to study and train in the sport. He enjoys reading biographies and history texts on boxing and breaking down techniques in film.

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