Who has had the greater success against Floyd Mayweather?
By Craig Hilton: It’s difficult for any trainer to devise a strategy for beating Floyd Mayweather Junior (43-0) as he adjusts to his opponents’ every move. Recently, I’ve taken time to watch the most competitive Mayweather fights. I’d like to discuss his opponents’ level of success under four key areas: Jab, Combinations and Hand Speed; Head Movement; Footwork and Endurance.
Jab, Combinations and Hand Speed
It has been well documented that Mayweather’s style requires opponents to mount attacks with the jab. The jab keeps a counter puncher like Mayweather occupied, denying him time to think and counter as easily. Most significantly, it creates gaps for body shots. Oscar De La Hoya (39-6) pressed Mayweather against the ropes with the jab in their huge fight, straightening him up for a swift combination. In the recent Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto (37-4) super fight, Cotto caused significant damage with his sturdy jab. Despite landing a few hard rights to the body, Cotto had more success with his jab than any other shot.
Although Jose Luis Castillo (64-11-1) didn’t offer such an effective jab than Oscar or Miguel, I believe he used a better combination of punches. In my opinion, opponents need combinations of two and three punches against Mayweather. Although it’s difficult to land all the shots contained within a combination, the challenger needs to use feints, fakes and one or two punches to land weighty blows to the body.
Castillo and Cotto were limited by their incapability to launch rapid shots; Oscar De La Hoya had faster hands by comparison and therefore had greater success when landing his combinations against Mayweather. However, Oscar wasted more shots; this squandering slackened his pace and output in those later rounds.
In my opinion, Jose Luis Castillo used effective head movement to avoid Mayweather’s shots. A slight dip of his shoulders kept Mayweather occupied and made him miss. After watching the recent Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1) fight, it seems Manny has adopted a similar style of head movement. By comparison, Cotto’s head was motionless against Mayweather; Miguel was one-paced and seemed satisfied to walk Floyd towards the ropes and corners of the ring where he could establish his strength advantage. However, his lack of dynamism was his shortcoming as Mayweather was able to stand and pick looping right hooks around Cotto’s weaker back hand whilst in the centre of the ring. Cotto was most effective when he had Mayweather penned into the corners of the ring: he crouched low, smothering Floyd whilst throwing colossal shots to the head and body.
It is common knowledge among trainers that you need to set a furious pace against a counter puncher; Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto failed to do this. Ricky Hatton (43-3) had more success in manoeuvring Floyd into uncomfortable positions but he didn’t have a jab, limiting his effectiveness in putting shots together. Jose Luis Castillo kept Mayweather’s feet moving at a decent pace to create the angles for his attacks. In view of this, I believe that Castillo set the most effective pace when fighting Floyd.
Floyd Mayweather is one of the best economisers in the sport but do opponents make him work as much as they should? How many times have we seen Floyd triumph in the later rounds? It seems that Floyd’s challengers have to possess tremendous stamina whilst landing punches to the body in order to grind him down. In my opinion, Jose Luis Castillo is the only opponent to have bullied Floyd effectively with this strategy.
After taking all of the above areas into account, I believe Jose Luis Castillo’s style has posed the most problems to Floyd Mayweather. It could be argued that Manny Pacquiao has, or had strengths, in all of the above departments – particularly hand speed, footwork and head movement – but I’m not sure that Mayweather has as bigger problem against southpaws as the public likes to think. It remains to be seen whether that mammoth encounter will ever happen but I hope that this article assists fans in deciding for themselves which fighter they feel has had the most success against Floyd Mayweather Junior.
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