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Mayweather dominates Marquez; who’s next? September 20, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Boxing.
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Floyd Mayweather Jr made a triumphant return to the ring last night, dominating a game but outclassed Juan Manuel Marquez over 12 one-sided rounds.  The judges had it 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109, all in favour of ‘Money’, but some ringsiders say the judges actually did Marquez a favour by giving him a couple of rounds.  Mayweather’s record remained unblemished at 40-0 (25 KOs), while Marquez fell to 50-5-1 (37 KOs).

Before the fight, much talk surrounded the significant size advantage Mayweather had on Marquez, especially after Floyd had to raise the contract weight from 144 to 147 pounds the day before the fight.  He officially weighed in at 146 pounds, whereas Marquez weighed only 142.  Floyd also refused to be weighed on the day of the fight, leading to speculation that he must have had more than 10 pounds on Marquez by the time they stepped into the ring.

In the end, it didn’t matter.  Not only was Mayweather bigger and stronger than Marquez, he was also faster, more accurate and significantly better defensively.  Marquez didn’t stand a chance.

Now all attention turns to Manny Pacquiao’s bout with Miguel Cotto on November 14th, with the winner (especially if it is Pacquiao) likely to be Floyd’s next opponent, provided the negotiators can reach an agreement.  Of course, waiting on the sidelines is welterweight champ Sugar Shane Mosley, who called out Mayweather ‘Kayne West-style’ in the ring after the bout last night (see more below).

Fight Analysis

At the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 19 September 2009, Floyd Mayweather Jr put on a superb tactical performance against Juan Manuel Marquez, who did everything he could but just couldn’t do anything effective against his bigger, younger, faster opponent.  The crowd was very much pro-Marquez, with excited oohs and aahs ringing throughout the arena every time Marquez threw a punch that looked like it was close to landing (and this was rare).  However, they couldn’t spur their man to victory.  Mayweather showed little rust from the layoff, demonstrating the deadly speed and precision that we’re used to seeing from him, and leaving Marquez and his trainer Nacho Beristain with no answers.

As expected, Mayweather was slightly cautious in the first round, jabbing and moving while spending most of the time surveying his opponent.  In the second round, Marquez landed a big right hand that brought a smile to Mayweather’s face.  He returned the favour in dramatic fashion, landing a left hook and then adding another one shortly after that put Marquez flat on his backside.  From there, the fight was all Mayweather, who was simply superb in attacking and defending from all angles.  Left jab to the head, left jab to the body.  Lunging lead left hook.  Left and right hand counters.  Block, cover up, roll, fend, tie-up.  And if all else fails, run.  Even when Marquez tried to rally with wild combos, Mayweather always appeared in complete control, picking off each punch as though he was toying with his outmatched opponent.

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Mayweather was better than Marquez in every respect

The first few rounds, if you don’t look closely and if you discount the second round knockdown, don’t appear that dominant.  But if you paid attention or if you saw the punch stats, you would have seen that Floyd was putting on a boxing clinic.  Marquez just couldn’t get off, and the few punches he did land, Mayweather shrugged them off with a smile.  Marquez’s face, apart from becoming more bruised and battered as the fight wore on, was filled with both anger and frustration – at his own inability to do anything against his opponent.  To his credit, even though he was receiving the beating of his life, stuck through it and never gave up till the final bell.  No matter how many times he got hit, no matter how many of his shots were blocked or evaded, Marquez just kept coming.  And if he was hurt, he certainly didn’t show it.  A true warrior.

Punch stats were devastating.  Mayweather landed 290 of 493 punches, a staggering 59%.  Conversely, Marquez, who actually threw more punches, landed just 69 of 583, an abysmal 12%.  Power punch stats were almost equally bewildering, with Mayweather landing 105 out of 177 (59%) and Marquez landing only 48 out of 295 (16%).  To really put things in perspective, there was not a single round where Marquez landed more than 8 punches, and in each of rounds 1, 2, 5 and 10, he only landed 4.  If Mayweather isn’t right up there as one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time, then I don’t know who is.

After 21 months out of the ring, I had forgotten just how good Floyd Mayweather was.  Though I predicted him to win, I had mistakenly expected the fight to be much closer given his ‘retirement’, as well as his financial, legal and family issues.  As proven last night, Floyd’s instincts and reflexes are unparalleled – he is simultaneously sharp and awkward, and almost impossible to figure out within 12 rounds.  He knows when to slip in and when to slip out, when to attack and when to defend. 

However, watching this fight, you understand why Floyd, even if you discount his douchebag antics, isn’t a more popular fighter.  First, he doesn’t like to take risks or engage unless he has to.  He was beating Marquez around the ring all night and even scored a knockdown, but he refused to go for the kill and hand Marquez the first knockout loss of his career.  As part of his sublime defence, Floyd backpedals, runs, and sometimes looks like a frightened child cowering from a rabid dog.  Technically, he is brilliant, but for people who like to see action, they’d much rather watch Manny Pacquiao.  Which is probably why his fight with Marquez, though more exciting than I had anticipated, was considered a snoozer by many who saw it.

Size and weight mattered

It wouldn’t have made any difference to the end result, but the size and weight played a decisive factor in how the fight panned out.

Floyd Mayweather downplayed the size and weight difference from the moment the fight was made and continued even in the post-fight interviews, reminding everyone that he too was once a small fighter (albeit many many years ago).  On the other hand, whether intentionally or no, he did everything he could to maximize his size advantage, to the point where he was willing to pay money to come in a few pounds overweight against a guy who was a few pounds off the initial catch-weight limit.  If he weighed 146 lbs the day before the fight, how much did he weigh on the day?  155? 160? More?  We’ll never know because Mayweather refused to be re-weighed, which only adds fuel to speculation that he didn’t want people to know just how big of an advantage he had.

That said, I don’t think it was Mayweather’s weight that ultimately made the difference – it was Marquez’s.  He just wasn’t himself at that weight.  He was visibly pudgier around the middle, something we had never seen before.  He was always a step slower.  Perhaps his age, at 36, had suddenly caught up with him, and his reflexes weren’t as sharp as they used to be (see De la Hoya).  Perhaps he overtrained for the fight because of the 2-month delay.  And don’t forget, it was his first fight at that weight, two classes above his previous high.  Not that any of these things could have changed the result – but it could have at least made the fight more competitive.  Excuses?  Maybe, but I believe Marquez’s body simply didn’t belong in the welterweight division.  Unlike his rival Manny Pacquiao, Marquez’s body maxed out at lightweight.  Any weight above that became detrimental to his performance in the ring, and last night, it showed.

Around the ring

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Shane Mosley wants a piece of Floyd Mayweather Jr

Some Mayweather detractors claim that the most exciting part of the night was when Shane Mosley entered the ring during Mayweather’s interview with Max Kellerman and challenged Mayweather to a fight right then and there.  In response, Floyd said he was not afraid of anyone and would let his managers decide his fights (contrary to what he has said before), before Shane continued to run his mouth and the two had to be separated.  Let’s hope Mosley really did get under Mayweather’s skin and the two of them will get it on, though I don’t think it will happen – not unless Manny Pacquiao loses to Miguel Cotto – because the pay day Mayweather will receive from a bout with Pacquiao will dwarf anything he can get from Mosley.

Another interesting tidbit was that Floyd Mayweather Sr was not in his son’s corner for the fight.  Instead, he spent the night dressed in a loud black suit with gold trim, looking somewhat displeased in the crowd.  After the fight he continued to dismiss Manny Pacquiao, saying that the Filipino was not in the same league as his son.  And perhaps, in a poor attempt to try and get himself back into his son’s corner, claimed that Floyd could be a lot better than he showed in the fight.  Hint hint.

Can Pacquiao beat him?

No disrespect to Miguel Cotto, but boxing fans (including myself) are already looking forward to a salivating showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the first half of 2010.  Mayweather’s camp (Roger and Floyd Sr) have been dissing Pacquiao for ages, perhaps a sign of their jealousy at Pacquiao’s popularity.  In response, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach dissed Mayweather by saying that he would be an ‘easier’ opponent than both Cotto and Mosley.

I bet a lot of people are now saying, given the way Marquez fought Pacquiao in their two wars and the way he was handled by Mayweather last night, that Manny would not stand a chance against Floyd.  I disagree with that assessment.  Much like the way I disagreed that Floyd would be no match for Manny after Pacquiao knocked out both De la Hoya and Hatton in more spectacular fashion.  While he will be the underdog, I believe apart from Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao has the best chance of cutting down Mayweather.

Take the Mosley-Cotto-Margarito trio for example.  When Mosley lost to Cotto in a tight decision and then Cotto got mauled by Margarito, few gave Mosley a chance when he went up against the big welterweight.  And yet Mosley absolutely slaughtered Margarito when they stepped into the ring.  Not to say it is comparable to the Mayweather-Pacquiao-Marquez scenario, but it does demonstrate that styles do indeed make fights.

I believe the Manny Pacquiao of now (as opposed to the one that battled Marquez) has a realistic chance of putting a loss on Mayweather’s record.  It’s a mistake to dwell too much on those two fights with Marquez.  First, the fights were at a featherweight and superfeatherweight (126 and 130 lbs), weights that suited Marquez a lot more than it did Pacquiao, who was seriously struggling to make weight (don’t forget, Pacquiao’s first two losses were after he failed to make weight).  Pacquiao is now at a weight he is comfortable with (140-147lbs), and he has filled out his new body well without losing any of the speed and explosiveness he had at the lower weight classes.  Secondly, Marquez has a style that matches up well with Pacquiao’s aggression.  As Roach said, they could fight a hundred times and each time it would turn out the same.  Thirdly, and most importantly, Pacquiao has improved dramatically.  He’s no longer the reckless, jab-jab-cross fighter that was sometimes too one-dimensional for the elite technicians.  Watch his fights against Marquez and compare them to his bouts with Diaz, De la Hoya and Hatton.  He has shown so much more versatility, more discipline and more skill than the Pacquiao of old.  Dare I say even more power.  And let’s not forget, the Pacquiao of old still knocked Marquez down 4 times in 2 fights.  If they fought at welterweight now, I have no doubt Pacquiao would win and probably knock Marquez out.

Stylistically, Mayweather would cause Pacquiao problems, but the same can be said about any fighter Mayweather faces.  Pacquiao is one of a handful of fighters that has comparable hand and foot speed to Mayweather and the discipline to stick to a game plan.  Further, Manny (30) is younger than Floyd (32) and is a natural southpaw with KO power in both hands.  And Freddie Roach believes he has the perfect game plan for beating Mayweather, one that was half-executed by Oscar De la Hoya until he forgot to use his jab. 

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Everyone wants to see Pacquiao-Mayweather

Of course, even if he is a welterweight, Pacquiao is the naturally smaller fighter and Mayweather has a 5 inch reach advantage on him (72 to 67), and while he has improved defensively, Pacquiao’s defence is just not in the same class.  What he does have going for him though is that relentless agression and pressure which Mayweather has never faced before, and the punching power to saw through that seemingly impenetrable defence.  And if he does, Mayweather could find himself in trouble.

Will the fight be made?

All of this is just speculation.  Can a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao actually be made?  As usual, money is the primary obstacle.  Top Rank took a step back and offered a 50-50 purse split after Freddie Roach and Bob Arum initially said Pacquiao deserved 60-40.  All of this was before Floyd’s masterful domination of Marquez, of course.  However, even at 50-50, Mayweather was non-commital.  The key is how Pacquiao performs against Miguel Cotto.  If he can blast him out of the ring like he did against Hatton and De la Hoya, AND the fight performs better than Mayweather-Marquez, then 50-50 sounds about right, though I can see Top Rank take a little less in order to get Mayweather to sign.  

Although PPV records are not public yet, Mayweather-Marquez was slow to sell, with apparently more than 1,500 unsold tickets just days out from the fight.  Pacquiao-Cotto, on the other hand, already only has around 500 tickets left, and are sure to sell out well in advance of the fight.  So far, advantage Pacquiao.

[Update: Shockingly, Mayweather-Marquez did over 1 million PPV buys!  This was when most analysts believed 600,000 was being optimistic.  I guess Mayweather really has a solid claim to the lion’s share of the purse if he fights Pacquiao.  That said, I am still not convinced that Pacquiao will breeze through Cotto.  If Manny has not put 100% effort into his training and Cotto is not affected by the drop to the catch-weight of 145 pounds, then he could be in for a rude shock against the bigger, stronger slugger.]

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Comments»

1. David - October 8, 2009

Floyd will neutralize Manny by the 3 round. Once Manny gets hit by one of floyd’s blinding left hooks, he’ll think twice about coming in. Manny would be the perfect victim to Floyds counterpunching style because he likes to charge in and often throws punches with his head down or head unprotected. In the Marquez fight, floyd was having a hard time knocking Marquez out because Marquez wasn’t bringing the fight to him. Mayweather knocks you out with his brilliant counter punching. All Marquez was doing that fight was trying not get hit. And if there was any sign of ring rust in Mayweather, it was his inability to open up fully on Marquez, or being too cautious in the attempt.

pacejmiller - October 9, 2009

Actually that’s a pretty good analysis. How do you see the Pacquiao-Cotto fight panning out then?


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