By Ludwig O. Daza
When Floyd Mayweather fought DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, his ring generalship still had rough edges. Yes, he was slick, but he was a bit mechanical in his execution. He would dart in and out without the balance and smoothness that he possesses right now. But he was able to compensate with slickness and quickness, frustrating DeMarcus Corley to no end.
But in his fight with Oscar De La Hoya and Zab Judah, Mayweather’s offensive arsenal was complete. The fluidity of his offense and defense was evident, and this is because he found the balance resulting to the merger of his offense and defense. His game is now showing that his defense is offense, and Vice Versa.
His newfound balance even made him join “Dancing with the Stars”. Nobody, I mean nobody, from the present crop of boxing stars, can dance the way Mayweather does. There is now yin and yang in Mayweather, making him a very special fighter.
Up until that fight with DeMarcus Corley, when Mayweather fought for the first time as super lightweight, aggressiveness was dominating his style as opposed to his being known as a defensive fighter – maybe because he was an up and coming star and he needed to show the boxing world that he is an exciting fighter and used a fan-friendly style of fighting.
Just when his complete offensive repertoire emerged, and after he became a superstar by beating De La Hoya, he also discovered his defensive prowess and became enamored with it, which explains his penchant for sporadic aggressiveness in the ring and reduced work rate. He became satisfied with just sniping from the outside and piling up points, instead of putting the hammer down, so to speak.
Deep in his heart he knew that, with his offensive skills, he can finish a job ala Jake LaMotta and throw caution to the wind, reducing the sweet science to bare knuckle brawl – a mayhem. In his heart he knew also that such kind of style can shorten his career. It only takes a wayward punch from the other guy.
And so, to protect his unblemished record and to further extend his boxing life, the only way is to become the face of sweet science – To hit the opponent and avoid being hit in the process. Boxing fans that probably were bloodthirsty audience in another time, watching gladiators duke it out in the arena, became disenchanted with Mayweather.
But boxing purists who are disciples of the sweet science are more than happy that Mayweather eschewed a gladiator-like ending. Boxing is a dance, a display of movements that require talent and perfection of a craft, as opposed to crude machismo where defense is not an issue, just a street fight, or a phone booth brawl.
Carlos Baldomir and Juan Manuel Marquez, though tough and talented in their own right, are patsy fighters compared to Mayweather. Mayweather could have bludgeoned them just like that. But by then he was already the epitome of sweet-science; hence Marquez and Baldomir lasted the distance against Mayweather.
Carlos Baldomir is slow, Juan Manuel Marquez is small. When he fought Baldomir, the toughest opposition available was Antonio Margarito. When he fought Marquez, Manny Pacquiao was just a phone call away and was already widely regarded as best pound for pound. But Mayweather will not oblige; His reasons are flimsy and tied to his untainted record.
All the fighters he fought never tested him, never put him in real danger. He knew already, even before the fight, that they posed no danger.
He knew that Victor Ortiz would unravel in due time, taking into account his bout with Marcos Maidana where Ortiz was bamboozled and branded a quitter. But Ortiz suddenly found resilience in his fight with Andre Berto. This Mayweather also took into account: Ortiz might be tougher than some pundits give him credit for.
Mayweather was probably thinking that his defense and sporadic offense might not be enough to beat Ortiz, given Ortiz’s youth and strength, and supposed resiliency, courtesy of Andre Berto. So he thought of an insurance: an all-out offense. Ortiz never knew what hit him.
Another beaten fighter. Another step towards greatness? Again, Mayweather was never in real danger at all in any point in his fight against any of all his opponents. How can one be great without facing adversity? To fall and to get up, that is how one is tested, against a mighty opposition.
Mayweather, in his heart of hearts, knows that there is one mighty opposition out there who can catapult him to the cusp of greatness. He only needs to beat him and his unblemished record will never be questioned. But he also knows that this guy can lead to his downfall. He is a formidable foe, a spitfire that can unleash atomic energy, smashing to smithereens any opposition within sight.
“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself,” according to an American president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
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