Cracking the boxing puzzle that is Floyd Mayweather has proved impossible for fourty four opponents to date.
The self-proclaimed 'Money Mayweather' is not shy about letting the world know of this fact, as he often references, that there is no 'blueprint' to beat him.
Across the world of boxing when trainers and fighters sit down and try to figure our how to beat their opponent, they will focus on that opponents weaknesses.
If he is weak to the body, hit him to the body. If he is a slow starter, jump on him early. This is usually the way a team will approach a fight. It gives their fighter a game-plan and something to target.
Now in the special case that someone is lining up to face Floyd Mayweather, trainers will adopt the same principals of targeting his weaknesses, or perceived weaknesses I should say.
So Floyd doesn’t throw a lot of punches, and likes to sit back on the ropes, this is seen to be a weakness in where their fighter can outwork him, get in close and throw plenty of punches. The reality is, in this situation, Floyd is 'working' you. While you waste energy hitting arms and fresh air, he is tiring you out and picking you off with counters. Floyd has turned his so-called 'weakness' into a strength.
An interesting way to look at the problem of beating Mayweather would be too analyse how Mayweather himself approaches a fight. If Floyd was a trainer, how would he prepare his fighter?
In a recent All Access documentary before the Robert Guererro fight, Floyd was asked what his game-plan would be. In typical Floyd fashion he didn't give a straight answer, but he did give an insight into how he approaches a fight. "What ever my opponent is good at, I take that away from them". That is the key to why Mayweather is unbeaten, he focuses on negating the strengths of his opponents, not on targeting their weaknesses.
Don't be fooled by Mayweather's bravado that he doesn't watch or study his opponents before fights, he has a game-plan every time he enters the ring, and executes it perfectly.
He would have seen how Guererro walked through Berto, and developed a plan to counteract this. The same happened with Ricky Hatton in 2007. Both opponents were animals on the inside, and Mayweather won by taking this away from them, he tied them up on the inside when they did get close, and kept distance on other occasions, so he could fire off his counters.
The stinging right hand leads discouraged these come forward fighters, it forced them to think and plan their attacks, but while they were thinking and not moving forward with the same speed and strength as they were in round one, due to fear of Mayweather's counters, Mayweather is landing right hands while they think, it is a vicious cycle.
Canelo Alvarez must approach the September showdown in the same fashion. I believe Canelo must try to negate Floyd's best assets. For me, these are his lead right hands, and his ability to make you miss with his shoulder roll on the ropes. Easier said than done of course, but if these can be taken away from him, he will be forced out of his comfort zone.
Mayweather's lead right hand has been connecting without fail for all of his career. Look through a Mayweather highlight reel, and the punch you will see the most will be the lead right hand. Nobody throws it quite like Floyd, the speed, accuracy and timing is sublime. It is extremely discouraging for opponents, because it is the same punch over and over, but they can't do anything to stop it.
Miguel Cotto did a pretty good job of blocking the signature straight right, but in typical Mayweather fashion, he adapted, and turned it into a hook, bringing it around Cotto's tight guard.
The left side of Cotto's head was heavily bruised from round three onwards. However, the right hook isn't as fast as the straight right, and Mayweather is more open to counters with a lead hook.
Now onto Mayweather's defence. Firstly, Mayweather doesn't just defend by sitting on the ropes with the shoulder roll, he moves around the ring well. His lateral movement and slipping was excellent against Guerrero. He probably moved more in that fight due to the amount of punches he shipped on the ropes against Cotto.
Canelo first must cut off the ring effectively; this will give him a better chance of landing his own shots. However, he must be careful, Mayweather punches and moves seamlessly.
Against Guererro there was many occasions when Mayweather was ambling around the ring looking disinterested, and he then fired a straight right when Guererro had switched off.
If Canelo can get Floyd onto the ropes, he must hold back every single instinct inside him that tells him to unleash big shots. The effectiveness of Floyd's style of defence is that when up close, most fighters want to unleash hooks and rights over the top.
These are the punches Floyd wants them to throw, because when they miss, they leave his opponent open to counters, and also decrease their stamina and morale.
Canelo must throw the jab in close, it may seem awkward, but it is the only punch Mayweather's shoulder roll defence doesn't cover against when up against the ropes. Cotto was effective with this tactic, it caused Mayweather's head to jerk back in a defensive manner even if it didn't land, and thus impressing the judges.
To be quite honest, Canelo's only chance of winning comes from a points victory in my eyes, the likelihood of hitting Floyd clean with a big shot, while possible, is unlikely.
If the flame haired Mexican can approach this fight with the mind-set Floyd approaches a fight, and orientates his game-plan around taking away what Floyd is good at, he stands a chance. But then again, it's easier said than done against the greatest pound for pound fighter on the planet.
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