Ali, Robinson, Leonard, Mayweather; the art of movement
(Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime) By Robert Elmore: When there is a certain person that stays on top of his game in any sport, and no major flaws can be pointed out, that’s when people reaching for straws. They search high and low for anything they can use to disrespect the person on top. The anti Floyd Mayweather Jr. movement have resulted to such things.
This article is not for those who educated about the sport. It’s for those who uneducated. One of the straws being reached for is this thing called movement; getting out of the way punches; the float like a butter fly sting like a bee; the Cus D’ mato hit and not get hit style.
Fans are quick to call Floyd a “runner”. If Floyd is a runner, then Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, the late Hector Camacho and other who have used this style, are legitimate track stars with medals I might add. The double standard here is one boxer/s can move, but the other can’t. There was no other heavyweight in the world was light on their feet, had the type of head movement, and lighting fast hands like Ali. He implemented this style on his opponents before stripped and boxing license for refusing to be drafted into war. I would dare to say, had his license not been taken away, he would have been on top a lot longer than he was. He might’ve even retired undefeated. Even when he returned from exile, he still had cat like reflexes and decent movement. They weren’t as sharp, but they were there.
If one were to watch his fight with Sonny Liston, both of them, one could easily see that Ali didn’t stand still. Liston had a bull dozing style that crushed other opponents because they stood directly in front of him. Ali was no dummy. In the first fight, Ali would pop Liston with combinations then get out the way.
At times he stood still at times, but not long enough for a Liston to set up to deliver a bruising shot. Liston became so frustrated with this style that he resulted to cheating. And even then he couldn’t find land anything solid because Ali moved and clinched.
By the end of the 6th round, Liston was beat up both physically and mentally In my opinion, his ego was bruised more than anything. The second fight was more of the same. Ali danced the whole time until he delivered the right hand that sent Liston to the canvas. It wasn’t until the later years, that Ali began to take unnecessary punishment.
Ray Leonard is another fighter that moved. In fact, he copied the Ali shuffle. Leonard was flat footed in the early part of his career, but even he moved when necessary. The one time I saw Ray get his tail whooped was in his first fight with Roberto Duran. Before the fight, a reporter asked Leonard how he was going to fight Duran, and he answered flat footed. He then told the reporter to quote those words. Duran man handled Ray in way to a decision.
Before the second fight, that same reporter asked him the same question. Leonard’s response this time was not flat footed. (Ray Leonard Beyond the Glory). Millions watched as Ray kept out of harm’s way, pot shot, delivering combinations, and taunting Duran. This frustrated Duran so much to that he spoke the famous words No Mas. These same tactics were used against Marvin Hagler. Ray got the bigger ring so that Hagler couldn’t corner him and he used every inch of it.
Ray would flurry and move. Dance, taunt Hagler, and move. So much to the point that Hagler would tell him to stop fight like a man. He frustrated the Marvelous one en route to a split decision. Ray Robinson showed Ali the way the way on movement. Ali used to brag about how nobody could touch he nor Robinson and called the other fighters like Joe Louis flat footed. When Robinson retired the first time, his record was 100 wins and 1 defeat.
There isn’t much film on Ray. But the fights I did see, Jake La Motta, Carmen Bisilio, Kid Galahad he beat them combinations and good footwork. Floyd has used pieces of all these fighters, along with his father Floyd SR. uncle Roger and Jeff Mayweather and rolled them into the superb boxer you see before you. I know some of the Floyd haters will attack by saying “these above fighters fought everybody” (which is not true) as a means to justify their opinions about Floyd. But make no mistake, these fighters mastered the art of hit and not get hit.