Not this time, that time but of all time?
By Khuram Ahmed: Floyd Joy Mayweather Senior. The self proclaimed greatest boxing trainer of all time is an eccentric and flamboyant man with a head full of knowledge but an ego to match. Floyd Sr believes his way of coaching is the best way. So what makes him so great?
Floyd Sr is most know for training his son, pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr, from when he was a toddler all the way until his first few professional fights. A few stints in prison ended this arrangement on bad terms. Another one of Floyd’s pupils is the Gold Boy Oscar De La Hoya. Although Floyd Sr did not train De La Hoya from the start of his career he was brought in to the camp to sharpen up De La Hoya’s defence and slickness. He also trained Ricky Hatton for a few fights, although this partnership ended with defeat vs Manny Pacquiao his changes to Hatton were shown during Hatton’s dominance of Paulie Malagnaggi. Floyd Sr currently works with some future prospects namely Joan Guzman and more recently Mickey Bey Jr.
Floyd Sr preaches defence. It is the cornerstone of all that he teaches. The main form of defence he uses is that of head movement. He fires his hands out at his fighters during a mitt work session to get them to move their heads, slip, roll and pull. As well as head movement Floyd believes in a long, stiff jab to begin every form of attack. It is these two fundamentals, head movement and the jab, which Floyd Sr believes are the key to success in boxing.
So how does he teach this? Floyd’s mitt work is known as “cycle burst sets”. This is when the mitt work goes from single shots and jabs to a fast and sharp pre-learnt combination and then back down to single shots. This may seem usual for a boxer but it is the implementation of defence within these cycle bursts that made Floyd Sr unique. A cycle burst usually contains 3 or 4 defences – which are rare for a single mitt work combination to contain. The aim of the cycle burst is to improve muscle memory. For example, every time a shot is blocked with a shoulder roll the fighter comes back with a right, left, right combination. Every defence has a counter off it. After a few sessions the muscles remember how to react off each defence and these slowly become reflexes. It is this reflex technique that saw De La Hoya become a sharper and slicker boxer as he became more relaxed in the ring.
He only holds the pad up for a split second, this simulates a fight as you may only see the target for a second and you only have that time to react and get your shot off. At the age of 58 he is still faster than most fighters so he can keep up with them whilst making them slip and roll. If they are slow to react they know Floyd will hit them because he is just that quick. He makes his training a perpetual motion which allows the muscles to become used to the motions needed in sparring/fighting. The major benefit of this is relaxation, a fighter becomes relaxed to the punches that are being thrown at them because they are well aware that their body will respond with a counter and any boxer will tell you that the key to being successful in the ring is being relaxed in the way on punches coming at you.
So the question arises; if Floyd Sr is so great why does he not have any champions at the moment? That is where Floyd’s personality comes into it. He has a very big ego and this prevents him from getting along with most fighters. He thrives off the spotlight and believes he is the reason for any of his fighter’s successes. Obviously this does not sit down well with the boxers themselves. During the recent argument with his son on HBO’s 24/7 he was humiliated by Floyd Jr on this topic – but it was his former fighters that jumped to his defence; Oscar De La Hoya was quoted saying “for the record didn’t leave Floyd Sr, he is the best coach ever, period.”
A coach should be assessed on skills and success. Floyd’s ego has tarnished his success and limited his future chances at success but his skills stand alone. Given the right amount of time he can mold a fighter into a fast, sharp and slick defensive master of the sweet science. Unlike Freddie Roach, who focuses more on the correctness of shots and angles, Floyd’s techniques implement defence into the muscle memory of his fighters and then he builds on how to counter from there. Floyd’s techniques make a fighter alert as to what to do after your opponent throws a punch as opposed to attempting to set a trap for your opponent to walk into like most other coaches attempt. There is no guarantee that a fighter will fall for certain traps but there is a certain guarantee that a fighter will throw punches at you and that is what Floyd Sr makes you react to with minimum damage. Given the right fighter and the right amount of time to work with them, Floyd Sr can make the perfect boxer. Is he the best coach of all time? Only time will tell.