Floyd Mayweather says it all the time: There is no blueprint to defeat Floyd Mayweather. After all, he reasons, 43 have tried and 43 have failed.
Ah, yes, Floyd, but everyone can be beaten. A review of the best of the very best in boxing history reveals as much. As great as “Sugar” Ray Robinson was a fighter, he was defeated 19 times in the ring. Muhammad Ali called himself “The Greatest,” but it didn’t keep him from suffering defeat 5 times in his career. Joe Louis, perhaps the most perfect prizefighting machine who ever lived, was 66-3 as a professional.
Mayweather will be the favorite against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero this Saturday, and for good reason. Don’t be shocked to see a one-sided blowout. Mayweather might be too skilled for the hard-charging challenger.
But everyone can be beaten, and if Robert Guerrero is to give it a go against Floyd Mayweather, he’ll need to follow this plan.
What Lee Wylie Says
One of boxing’s most trusted technical experts is The Sweet Science’s Lee Wylie. A boxing writer from England, Wylie’s pre-fight breakdowns have become standard fare for astute ring watchers.
I caught up with the fedora-wearing Wylie at a smoky bar recently to get his take on the fight (okay, it was through email).
Robert will have to use feints and indirect attacks. Not getting in too close and changes in tempo and rhythm are key. Mayweather thrives on pattern recognition. Don't give him one.
As usual, Wylie is right. Mayweather’s chief asset is his ability to adjust to what is in front of him. He does this by collecting and interpreting data quickly. And how can one make that data he collected worthless? It is precisely done by varying the attack to the point of being absolutely unpredictable.
Easier said than done, I know.
What Springs Toledo Says
Multiple time BWAA award winning writer Springs Toledo agrees. In Part 2 of his blueprint on how to defeat Mayweather (Part 1 is here), Toledo describes an approach that uses infighting, body work and unorthodoxy.
Toledo goes on to describe the perfect mixture of what he believes will be necessary to beat Mayweather. Mostly, Toledo says it will come down to not presenting Mayweather any patterns to decode. Where fundamental boxing would say hook off the jab, try jabbing of the hook. Where conventional wisdom says a right cross follows a left hook, go to the body twice after instead.
Floyd bases his reactions on two things: fast twitch fibers and good odds. He gets downright Pavlovian–he offers a stimulus and anticipates what your response will be. Then he exploits your predictability. Lead and respond unexpectedly and you will not only disrupt his game, you will find him. Floyd is conditioned to expect 1 or 2 or maybe 3 shots thrown in succession. So throw 5. Mix in rare punches like overhand rights and right hooks. Feint often. Feinting is a foil for speed. Vary not only your attack, but the speed of your punches, and your feints as well. The only constant is that you have to get inside and pin him to the ropes and the corners.
So how can Guerrero beat Floyd Mayweather this Saturday night? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Assume His Legs Are Gone
Mayweather looked slower than normal against Miguel Cotto last May, and he’s been inactive since. At age 36, Mayweather just might be slowing down. Regardless, Guerrero needs to believe it. He should come in behind a steady, stiff jab and try to pin Mayweather against the ropes. Once there, it’s time to go to work.
2. Don’t Be Predictable
Guerrero needs to be the aggressor, yes. But he cannot be predictable in doing it. When Floyd thinks Guerrero is about to rush him, The Ghost needs to be one and disappear. Once Mayweather reacts to that, he must be on top of him, preferably pinning the deft technician on the ropes. And that’s only half the battle. Once he’s there and has something in front of him to hit, Guerrero must unleash. He should not give Mayweather predictable punch patterns. He must be unstructured and frenetic, but never wild.
3. Be Downright Mean
No one is more vicious inside the ring on fight night than Floyd Mayweather. He fights within the rules, but don’t expect anything more than that. For his part, Guerrero will have to be even meaner.
If Mayweather fouls, don’t smile and touch gloves. Instead, Guerrero should get right back to the plan with a scowl on his face. If Mayweather takes his eye off what’s going on, Guerrero should clobber him the way Arturo Gatti and Victor Ortiz would want him to.
Finally, if he gets him hurt, Guerrero will need to finish the job. Don’t give him an inch to breath if he’s laboring, and land hard, clean punches where it counts, soft areas around the ribs or his temple.
Just Do It
If Robert Guerrero can do this, if he can be the kind of fighter Lee Wylie and Springs Toledo describe, if he can land punches in bunches without getting countered do death, if he can be unpredictable and just downright mean, Robert Guerrero will do what no man in history has done before him. He will defeat Floyd Mayweather.
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