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HOW HE DID IT: Mayweather’s Scintillating Display

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In what was his most dominating performance since mastering Juan Manuel Marquez back in September of 2009, Floyd Mayweather retained his welterweight title and kept his professional unbeaten streak going with a quite scintillating display of boxing against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in Las Vegas last Saturday night.

Despite now being 36 years-old, Mayweather showed no signs of decline in what was his first outing in little over a year (it was also his first fight since being incarcerated back in June).

After two fairly even rounds, Mayweather seized control (that’s if he hadn’t already done so in the first two, but more on that in a moment) and dominated the remainder of the fight to earn himself a unanimous decision, winning 117-111 on all three of the judge’s scorecards.

After 12 rounds, Mayweather (now 44-0 with 26 Kos) had landed an astonishing 60% of his power shots, handing a very frustrated Guerrero (now 31-2-1 with 18 Kos) only the second defeat of his 33-fight professional career in the process.

And so, for the most part of this analysis, I’d like to touch upon some of the things Floyd Mayweather did at different stages throughout the fight which allowed him to subdue a tough opponent in Robert Guerrero with relative ease.

Lead hand work against the southpaw

Because both fighters often find their lead hands and feet are obstructed by each other’s during a southpaw/orthodox clash, the jab is not always the easiest punch to establish. In this scenario, to land the jab successfully, the lead foot will oftentimes have to be positioned to the inside of an opponent’s lead foot. The problem with this, of course, is that one would be inadvertently lining themselves up with an opponent’s more threatening power hand. Therefore, during a mixed lead clash, the advantage usually lies with the fighter who can continually work their lead foot to the outside of their opponent’s, enabling them to better set up their rear hand while simultaneously placing themselves at a safer angle in relation to their opponent’s rear hand.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss ,Display 1

Notice the contrasting body alignments and spacing in the two stills. When you have a matched lead clash (shown on the above left here between Mayweather and Mosley) the jab is the most efficient punch to land (longest weapon to the nearest target). When you have a mismatch of leads going on (shown on the above right here between our men of the hour, Mayweather and Guerrero) you’ll often see more body space between each fighter and also a lot of jockeying for position with the lead hand in an attempt to create a clearer path to the target. As a result, it’s often better to place more emphasis on the rear hand by stepping to the outside of an opponent’s lead foot. Simply put, the rear hand, particularly the rear straight, becomes arguably the most effective weapon for a fighter during a mixed lead clash.

To suggest that any chance of a Guerrero victory would be dependent on the success or failure of Floyd Mayweather’s right hand would have been a gross understatement to say the least. Without question, Mayweather is the owner of one of the best right hands in the sport and he has little problem making it work against orthodox opponents, let alone southpaws. Needless to say, despite being fully aware and as well prepared as he could have been for the right hand threat of Mayweather, Robert Guerrero couldn’t do a thing to avoid being hit with it almost at will. This is the mark of a true craftsman in boxing –it’s not only about how many different tools you can bring to the table, it’s also about how many different ways you can use a single tool.

So how did Mayweather manage to chop up Guerrero with little else apart from a right hand? Simple, he constantly set things up, creating false patterns for Guerrero to read before breaking away from them abruptly.

In the early going, and indeed, throughout most of the bout, Mayweather threw blinding jabs (or slow jabs) toward Guerrero’s lead hand to disturb Guerrero’s rhythm, control his lead hand and to disguise his (Mayweather’s) next plan of attack. Unlike regular jabs, a blinding or slow jab is a non-committal jab that is extended out and brought back without actually punching.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss, Display 2

Here’s Mayweather throwing blinding jabs aimed at Guerrero’s lead glove during the early stages of the fight. Although its non-committal (the polar opposite to a thudding Sonny Liston stiff jab), the blinding jab is a great weapon to use against someone who is in an opposite lead to yourself (Guillermo Rigondeaux used it often to disrupt Nonito Donaire recently). As I mentioned earlier, when you have a mixed lead clash going on, you’ll see a lot of jockeying for position with the lead hand. The correct way to parry/cover/catch the jab of someone who is facing you in an unmatched lead is to use your own lead hand (the opposite of orthodox versus orthodox or southpaw versus southpaw where the rear hand should be used). Therefore, by throwing blinding jabs, you can occupy an opponent’s lead hand –discouraging them from trying to establish their own jab as well as manipulating the lead hand away from their guard to create openings.

Although the first two rounds were competitive on the surface, I believe Mayweather was simply laying down the ground work for his right hand. It’s what technicians do.

Execution of the right hand

I’ve already mentioned that Floyd Mayweather probably has the best right hand in the sport right now. But what does he do that makes it so special? Technically speaking, I’m of the opinion that he doesn’t throw it that much better than other fighters do. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of fighters out there that if you were to ask them to throw a straight right hand they would throw it with technical correctness. However, I don’t think there is a current fighter in boxing who has mastered the intangibles of a single punch quite like Floyd Mayweather has with his right hand. Sure, there are fighters out there who can hit harder than Floyd, but in terms of the set up –using feints and footwork to force his opponents into certain positions—and the delivery –mixing up the targets both high and low and narrow and wide in order to keep his opponents guessing as to where the next one is coming from, he may stand alone.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss,Display 3

As we’ve already discussed, here is Mayweather using his blinding jab to set up his straight right hand. Hypnotized by Mayweather’s snake charming lead hand, Guerrero barely manages to avoid Mayweather’s straight right in this instance. It should also be noted that Mayweather is throwing his right hand rather conventionally in this instance –his lead foot is positioned to the outside of Guerrero’s and his right hand is travelling from his guard with very little telegraphic motion.

Just as Guerrero was getting used to and compensating for one attack, Mayweather changed up and unveiled yet another one.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss Display 4

Still working behind his blinding jab, this time Mayweather adjusts the arc of the blow and changes its trajectory. Whereas Guerrero had been anticipating straight right hands between the gloves earlier in the fight, Mayweather was now throwing right hooks around the guard. Although right hooks are unconventional and considered too risky for orthodox fighters to use, because of the sudden change-up and unpredictable nature of the punch, Floyd found great success with it. A varied attack, even one with the same hand, can keep an opponent guessing instead of punching.

Despite the fact that he wasn’t the first fighter to use it (men like George Benton, Nicolino Locche and James Toney used it first and were arguably even more effective with it than Floyd is), Mayweather’s (and Broner’s) use of the shoulder roll on defense has resulted in the technique becoming very popular of late. However, if there was one technique that Mayweather pulled off against Guerrero on Saturday night that best sums him up as a defensive fighter (or an offensive one for that matter), it was the way in which he consistently weaved out at an angle after landing his straight right hand. One of the main goals in boxing is to hit without being hit back in return. Therefore, an intelligent boxer knows that his job is not done once he’s finished his attack.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss, Display 5

Here, Mayweather is drifting to his right and toward Guerrero’s more dangerous left hand. Notice how Mayweather has conceded the outside lead foot position in this sequence as he lands his right hand. As fundamentally sound as Mayweather is, he’s still capable of doing unconventional things in there. After landing his straight right hand, Mayweather drops low and weaves out to his right, evading Guerrero’s attempted counter left. When you see this in real time (Mayweather did this extensively throughout the fight) you’ll notice that Floyd begins weaving under before Guerrero has even released his left hand. This is Floyd Mayweather all over –taking some kind of pre-emptive measure against his opponent’s most likely/dangerous technique in any given situation. In this fight, it was Guerrero’s left hand.

Mayweather continued to circle right, occupy with a blinding jab or feint, before landing the right hand and exiting at an angle. You could say this move of Mayweather’s, which took away Guerrero’s left hand and exploited his inability to adjust against a multi-faceted fighter, was the story of the fight.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss Display 6

Here’s Mayweather pulling off the same offensive/defensive technique as before. Only this time, he’s using a straight right hand to the body. By going upstairs for a period of time before bringing the attack downstairs, Mayweather forced Guerrero to overcompensate with his guard. Regardless, the angling out –avoiding Guerrero’s counter left hand by weaving under and out to his right—was the same.

In his last fight before facing Mayweather, Robert Guerrero managed to maul a one dimensional fighter in Andre Berto and found little in the way of resistance coming back at him. Guerrero soon found out that trying to do the same thing to Floyd Mayweather at close quarters would be no easy task. Even though Mayweather rarely called upon his typical half-guard defense against Guerrero (a sign of his boxing acumen and Berto’s lack thereof saying as the half-guard defense out of an orthodox stance is less effective against southpaws) he still showed defensive mastery on the inside.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss Display 7

Unlike Andre Berto, Here is Mayweather nullifying Guerrero at close quarters. Notice how Floyd has Guerrero’s lead hand tied up and is using his right forearm to manoeuvre Guerrero around and stop him from throwing his left hand effectively.

floyd mayweather, robert guerrero, lee wylie, the sweet science, tss Display 8

Although this may seem relatively straight forward, Mayweather is actually smothering his opponent and is preventing him from working on the inside. In this position, Mayweather can’t be hit with anything clean as his right glove is protecting the right side of his face (a pre-emptive measure against Guerrero’s left hand) and his lead arm has Guerrero’s lead arm tied up. Should Guerrero manage to break loose and sneak something through, Mayweather has his chin tucked in for good measure. On the inside, much of the infighting success Guerrero had against Berto was shut down.

I could go on and write page after page here describing what Mayweather did to Guerrero last Saturday. Although I’ve touched on most things, I’ve still left out a few things, of which, I could probably write a whole other article about. Take Mayweather’s footwork for example, which, despite rumours of it not being what it once was, looked excellent. His persistent stop-start, non-rhythmic movement forced Guerrero to constantly reset himself or risk conceding an angle. Just as Guerrero would get set to punch, Mayweather would catch him between steps and nail him with the right hand and start all over. I could also have said more about the way in which Mayweather conditions his opponents to expect one technique before giving presenting them with another. In particular, after familiarizing Guerrero with the right hand for some time, Floyd began feinting with it and started throwing left hooks over the top of Guerrero’s lead hand, giving him even more to think about.

It’s one thing when you have a distinct hand and foot speed advantage over your opponent, but it’s something entirely different when you also hold the advantage in ring craft and IQ over them as well. Despite thinking Guerrero could have possibly done more to better disguise his intentions behind some rhythm changes and feints (just as Floyd did throughout), one can’t help but feel that should they face off another ten times, the outcome would always be the same. Robert Guerrero was soundly beaten by a superior athlete, a smarter ring general and a much better fighter.

 

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Jermell Charlo Unifies Super Welterweights Via Solar Plexus Punch

David A. Avila

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WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo knocked out IBF and WBA titlist Jeison Rosario with a knockout punch delivered to the solar plexus on Saturday to add two more belts to his collection.

“I’m definitely bringing home the straps,” said Charlo.

Shades of Bob Fitzsimmons.

Back in 1897, Fitzsimmons used the same solar plexus punch to dethrone Gentleman James Corbett for the heavyweight title in Carson City, Nevada.

In another casino city Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) floored Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) three times at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. He and his brother co-headlined a heavy duty pay-per-view card with no fans in attendance on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Charlo jumped on Rosario quickly in the first round when he charged and clipped him with a left hook to the temple. Down went the two-belt champion for the count. But he got up seemingly unfazed.

For the next several rounds Rosario was the aggressor and put the pressure on Charlo who was content to allow the Dominican to fire away. Occasionally the Houston fighter jabbed but allowed Rosario to pound up and down with both fists.

After allowing Rosario to get comfortable with his attack, suddenly Charlo stopped moving and connected with a short crisp counter left hook and right cross in the sixth round. Down went Rosario again and he got up before the count of 10.

Charlo said it was part of the game plan.

“I’m growing and I realize that the knockout will just come,” he said.

Charlo was in control with a patient style and allowed Rosario to come forward. But the Dominican was more cautious in the seventh.

In the eighth round Charlo jabbed to the head and then jabbed hard to Rosario’s stomach. The Dominican fighter dropped down on his seat as if felled by a gun shot. He could not get up and convulsed while on the floor. The referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 21 seconds of round eight.

“That jab that got to him must have landed in a vital point,” said Charlo after the fight. “I hope he recovers and bounces back.”

Charlo now has three of the four major super welterweight world titles.

WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over fellow Mexican Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a battle between southpaws. The war between border town fighters was intense.

Nery, a former bantamweight world titlist, moved up a weight division and found Alameda to be a slick southpaw with an outstanding jab. At first the Tijuana fighter was a little puzzled how to attack but found his groove in the fourth round.

But Alameda, who fights out of Nogales, Mexico, began using combinations and finding success.  A crafty counter left uppercut caught Nery charging in a few times, but he managed to walk through them.

In the final two rounds Nery picked up the action and increased the pressure against the slick fighting Alameda, He forced the Nogales fighter to fight defensively and that proved enough to give the last two rounds for Nery and the victory by unanimous decision. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nery who now holds the WBC super bantamweight world title. He formerly held the WBC bantamweight title.

Roman Wins

Danny “Baby-Faced Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) managed to rally from behind and defeat Juan Carlos Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) in a battle between former world champions in a nontitle super bantamweight clash. It wasn’t easy.

Once again Roman fought a talented southpaw and in this fight Payano, a former bantamweight titlist, moved up in weight and kept Roman off balance for the first half of the fight. The jab and movement by the Dominican fighter seemed to keep Roman out of sync.

Roman, who fights out of Los Angeles, used a constant body attack to wear down the 35-year-old Payano and it paid off in the second half. Then the former unified world champion Roman began to pinpoint more blows to the body and head. With seconds left in the 12th and final round, a left hook delivered Payano down and through the ropes. Sadly, the referee missed the knockdown. It didn’t matter as all three judges scored it identical at 116-112 for Roman after 12 rounds.

“I made some adjustments and picked up the pace and got the win,” said Roman who formerly held the WBA and IBF super bantamweight world titles.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Mairis Briedis and Josh Taylor Impress on a Busy Fight Day in Europe

Arne K. Lang

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In the busiest weekend of boxing thus far in 2020, there were fights of note all over the map in Europe. The most compelling was held at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich where the long-delayed WBSS cruiserweight final pit IBF world cruiserweight title-holder Yuniel Dorticos against Mairis Briedis. Both had only one loss on their ledger, that coming in a semifinal of Season One of the WBSS tourney.

Heading in, Briedis was recognized as the more well-rounder boxer. Dorticos had a style somewhat similar to Deontay Wilder, meaning that he was over-dependent on his big right hand. It figured that Briedis would fight with extreme caution, using his faster hands and superior footwork to keep out of harm’s way, but to the contrary he wasn’t afraid to trade with Dorticos and actually landed the harder punches. At the end, he captured the IBF belt and the more coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy with a majority decision. The judges had it 117-111, 117-111, and a confounding 114-114.

The first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) is now a two-time world cruiserweight champion. He previously held the WBO cruiserweight belt, but vacated it rather than adhere to the organization’s mandate that he give Krzysztof Glowacki a rematch. (Their first fight, a TKO 3 for Briedis, was very messy and he was fortunate that he wasn’t disqualified.) Dorticos, the Cuban defector, returns to his adopted home in Miami with a 24-2 record.

Briedis, 35, may own only one piece of the world cruiserweight title, but at the moment he is clearly the topmost fighter in the division.

York Hall, London

Apinun Khongsong’s first engagement outside the Orient didn’t go well for him. The 24-year-old Thai boxer with an Muay Thai background was out of his element against WBA/IBF champion Josh Taylor who dismissed him in a hurry with a “solar plexus punch” that would have made Bob Fitzsimmons proud. The punch from the left-handed Scotsman sent Khongsong to the canvas writhing in pain and he was down for several minutes before he was able to stand upright. The official time was 2:41 of the opening round.

Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, was making his first start since October of last year when he won a 12-round majority decision over Regis Prograis in a Fight of the Year candidate. His next fight may be a full unification of the 140-pound belt with Jose Carlos Ramirez in the opposite corner. Both he and Khangsong entered today’s fight with 16-0 records, but Taylor, who scored his 13th knockout, was in a different league.

Undercard Bouts of Note

In a 10-round bantamweight contest, Charlie Edwards (16-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs) out-classed British countryman Kyle Williams (11-3). The referee awarded Edwards nine of the 10 rounds. Edwards, 27, previously held the WBC 112-pound title but was forced to relinquish it because he had trouble making the weight.

York Hall has been a jinx for David Oliver Joyce, the 33-year-old super bantamweight from Mullinger, Ireland, who is 0-2 in this building and 12-0 elsewhere. Joyce failed to last three rounds today in his match with Ionut Baluta. A Romanian who fights out of Bilbao, Spain, Baluta knocked Joyce down with a big left hook and then swarmed all over him when he arose, forcing the referee to intervene. The official time was 1:49 of round three.

It was the sixth straight win for Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) and his third straight over a once-beaten opponent.

Riga, Latvia

Riga native Richard Bilotniks successfully defended his version of the European 175-pound title and advanced to the finals of the Golden Contract Light Heavyweight Tournament with a one-sided 10-round decision over Hosea Burton. A late bloomer who won only four of his first eight pro fights, Bilotnicks 30, won every round on one of the scorecards and eight rounds on the others to advance record to 17-5-1. Burton, who lost for the second time in 27 starts, let down his cousin Tyson Fury who flew to Latvia to cheer him on.

Struer, Denmark

At an arena in the city of Struer, hometown lass Dina Thorslund had a harder time than expected with Nina Radovanovic, but the Serb got no respect from the judges who didn’t see fit to award her a single round. Thorslund (15-0, 6 KOs) successfully defended her WBO world 122-pound title.

In the chief undercard bout, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KOs) moved a step closer to a world title opportunity with a second-round blast-out of late sub Alexandre Kartozia. There was no need to count when Hrgovic leveled Kartozia with a big right hand.

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