Layton F. (Brooklyn, NY): I never thought I’d see the day, but to me, Floyd Mayweather looked old and out of sorts. I just didn’t think he looked the same. Is it safe to say that he’s no longer the guy he was?
Vivek W. (ESB): The old adage has it that “time waits for no man”! Oddly, we’ve seen Floyd Mayweather dominate for so long that we’ve grown accustomed to the notion that he’s some blind exception to the rule, and unfortunately, this is not the case. While there were some points that just didn’t quite seem normal for him, statistically, we see the same level of success. From day one, Mayweather’s statistics have been mid to high 50 percentile (or greater) in offensive connection rates; all while holding the opponent down to a very low 20 percentile connection rate in exchange. Has he been touched a bit more lately? Certainly seems that way, but again, all percentages remain intact, so is he truly “slippin” (as Steven A. Smith of ESPN went on record to say)?
Few truly understand how Mayweather uses the rules of the sport to benefit him at winning in the sport. Sounds simple, yet it’s literally what breeds constant success for him, and constant headaches for those across from him. In the initial Maidana fight, he stood in the pocket and chose to bang, taking a low percentage of shots, while landing a high percentage in return. In this fight, he moved around a bit more, while again, landing a high percentage of shots and only allowing a small percentage in return. I spoke about “using the rules of the sport to benefit him” because there are subtle things that Mayweather never did before that we see him doing now. Many which we aren’t used to and don’t particularly like, but all which are perfectly legal, and all which help him in the end.
Perfect example is the ‘clinch’. We’ve seen Bernard Hopkins adopt it more and more over the past few years to slow the quick or overly aggressive punchers he faced. For Mayweather, it’s a new wrinkle that he has implemented as well. Fans will ask “why isn’t he being warned for clinching”, without understanding why it works for guys like he and B-Hop and not for others. Compare the way Mayweather has used the ‘clinch’ to the way we see it implemented by Wladimir Klitschko. In the case of Mayweather, it’s a technique used only in those rare moments where no other defensive tactic will work. In the case of Klitschko, it’s a momentum killer that is pretty much a primary method of defense, as opposed to conventional measures like head movement, foot movement, head movement, etc.
The clinches are ugly to watch, but I find it interesting that we’ve seen so much criticism of it when used in a fight where he displayed more movement, and not the one where he actually stood in the pocket in close combat. Think about that. In the initial fight when he stood toe to toe, more so, he rarely clinched at all. Now, in a fight where he’s very mobile and moving a ton, we see it implemented considerably more. Some ask why? Well, probably because the strategy here was to create more frustration for an opponent who already struggled to hit the moving target, and when he finally got a chance to tee off, he saw that effort blunted as well. These are the subtle things that cause desperation, and anything that causes desperation in the ring leads to mistakes in the ring. And as Mayweather mentioned before: “if you make a mistake, you have to pay”!
All of these efforts from Mayweather show us exactly how brilliant he can be in the ring. That being said, without question, we have to be honest in assessing that he’s only making use of certain tactics as a result of him no longer being able to remain on top without them. There is no denying that Mayweather is slowly fading at this point. But why shouldn’t he? Leonard, Ali, Jones Jr., and down the line; each of those men were a shell of themselves by roughly 33 years old. At age 37, Mayweather is slowly fading, too, and why wouldn’t he be? It’ll be interesting to see him evolve at this stage. But clearly, he’ll have to if he wants to remain on top, as his body simply isn’t what it once was!
Kevin L. (Macon, GA): I’ve seen your Facebook post, but I would like you to assess Floyd Mayweather’s performance and give your thoughts about where you think he stands as a talent in the sport today?
Vivek W. (ESB): I’ve always felt the best way to truly gauge any talent is to measure the consensus expectation level surrounding it. Let’s use a young Mike Tyson as an example. Die-hards found him to be mesmerizing, while critics felt he was a circus-like train wreck waiting to happen. Despite contrasting views, the one thing they all agreed on was that he was a perennial talent capable of destroying anyone placed before him. In the case of Floyd Mayweather, his critics will say he “dances too much”, while supporters will say “he’s a master”. Despite the contrasting perspectives, neither will deny that 99.9% of the times he enters the ring, he’s expected to win. Those odds would be present no matter who he faced in the welterweight division.
Supporters will admit this vocally, while critics will do so quietly, choosing instead to be vocal about not liking the way in which he will earn the victory. When you look at the fact that both critics and supporters enter every single contest feeling he will emerge the victor, it’s hard not to reach a conclusion that his talent stands above all others (in his sport). Contrast that with others. Pacquiao has been linked to Mayweather for years as the two top fighters, yet this theory no longer applies to him which is pretty telling. No matter how dominating we know him to be, the barely known Chris Algieri is still believed to have a true shot. Again, no other fighter in the sport gives both fans and critics the same level of certainty, which tells us where Mayweather truly stands in the sport today.
Relative to Floyd Mayweather appearing “old”, Lets start with statistics: In this bout, FMW landed at a rate of 51% (166/326), which was a consistent percentage with the 54% (230/426) from the initial bout. Maidana posted a rate of 22% (128/572), which was down from the 26% (221/858) he achieved in the initial fight. Those sets of numbers show an increase in landing percentage for Mayweather, and a decrease in defensive percentage which tracks what the opponent was able to land. Power punches told a similar story, showing that Mayweather landed 58% on an incredible 102 of 177 attempts; while only allowing Maidana to land 26%, which was 87/355.
I think the consistency of those numbers tell us that even in an “off-night”, Mayweather is clearly still fighting at a high level. Some have attempted to point at his toughness as a question, although I’d remind them all that the same shot that Marquez landed to stop Pacquiao is the one Maidana landed at the end of the 3rd round. Maidana is a much bigger puncher than Marquez, but Mayweather, despite a brief wobble, was able to maintain his composure. What it all comes down it is this:
when a heavy handed puncher lands at high volume like we saw in the first Maidana fight, it’s often not enough. When a heavy handed puncher lands less overall, but more power punches, it’s also typically not enough (as witnessed in this fight). When the heavy handed puncher lands a thunderous shot (Mosley, Maidana, Cotto, etc), it has also proven to not be enough. So if we remove the “punchers chance” option, and the “heavy work rate” option, what chance does the opposition truly have? This proves that even in his older age, he’s as difficult to dissect as anyone currently active. I don’t know about you, but that never gets “too old” to me! The results have spoken for themselves and they remain consistent. How can any of us argue with that?
Alvin T. (Miami Gardens, FL): Now that Mayweather and Maidana are done, where would you like to see them go next, in terms of next opponents?
Vivek W. (ESB): For Marcos Maidana, I think he gives anyone at 147 pure hell. That includes Manny Pacquiao! Styles make fights, and I truly believe that everyone from Thurman, to Pacquiao, to Bradley, or anyone in between would find it a very rough night against Maidana. He’s a rugged competitor who has little fear and a ton of pride! After losing this set of matches with Mayweather, Maidana now eagerly awaits another shot at something career defining. There’s a host of young talent that I feel could make for entertaining nights with him, and that extends between both the Golden Boy Promotions ranks, as well as Top Rank. My top choices would be Thurman, Bradley, or Pacquiao.
For Mayweather, I’m afraid there’s only one name that truly does anything for me, and that name is Manny Pacquiao. Cotto at 160 is an option many will speak of, or even a rematch with Canelo. Personally, neither of those matchups hold the same weight. Right now, Mayweather is starting to appear more and more like a man who sees the finish line. I think a combination of the distractions and the simple fact that it’s been 18 long years has finally taken its toll. I know he has two fights remaining at Showtime, but there’s only one man I’d like to see him face, and I don’t know that a rematch will be necessary in the end. Manny Pacquiao! That’s the man I want and anything less fails the test!
(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be heard every Tuesday night on “Left-Hook Lounge” radio at 9ET/6PT. He can also be reached at 954.770.9807, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), Instagram (ViveksView), and Facebook).