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Mayweather is going to be hard to beat

20
Sep

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. reminded the boxing world just how difficult he is to beat with his one-sided 12-round unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand on Saturday.

From the opening round it was apparent (painfully so to Marquez) that Mayweather’s time away from the ring did not dull his incredible reflexes and hand speed at all.

Add to Mayweather’s athletic prowess his sublime defensive skills and you have an almost unbeatable combination.

It’s too bad Mayweather (40-0, 25 knockouts) didn’t drop combinations during the Marquez bout, which he won by lop-sided scores of 120-107 (a shutout), 119-108, and 118-109. Fans would have actually seen a fight instead of the defensive boxing clinic that he put on.

However, that’s the reason Mayweather is going to be so hard to defeat. The man just doesn’t take any unnecessary risks.

An old boxing sage once described Mayweather's style and ring mentality like this:

“If he can win a round with nine punches, he’s not going to give you 10.”

Put another way, Mayweather doesn’t give his opponents anything to capitalize on.

Not that Marquez (50-5-1, 37 KOs), who appeared fleshy around his waist and much slower, would have been able to do much even if he were able to land clean punches.

Fighting above 140 pounds, against an opponent who was possibly as heavy as 155 pounds on fight night, the 36-year-old veteran simply didn’t possess the power necessary to wear down and knockout lightweight standouts like Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz.

Mayweather, on the other hand, flashed the kind of power that suggested he could hurt the older, smaller fighter when he dropped Marquez with a lead check-hook in the second round.

“I was like OK, let me see if I can finish this guy off,” Mayweather said at the post-fight press conference. “I couldn’t. He was too tough.”

Marquez is indeed as tough as they come, but the truth is that Mayweather didn’t really go for the knockout.

That’s the difference between Mayweather and other elite fighters such as Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto. When those fighters hurt their opponents, they usually close the show.

While their “killer instincts” make them more entertaining to watch, it also makes them more vulnerable and beatable. They all have losses on their records. Mayweather doesn’t and he aims to keep it that way.

That’s why even when he visibly shook Marquez late in the fight he never stepped on the gas pedal.

He didn’t do it because he didn’t need to. All Mayweather wanted was control of the fight, which is what a ring general does.

It’s what Marquez normally does but the Mexican technician claimed the size difference was too much to overcome.

“The weight was a problem for me,” Marquez said at the post-fight press conference. “I think there could have been 20-pound difference in weight.”

More like 10 pounds, but the truth is that even if the fighters weighed the same on fight night, Mayweather’s speed and style would have troubled Marquez.

Mayweather seldom led, which always bothers a natural counter-puncher like Marquez, but he didn’t run. He didn’t have to.

Mayweather, a master of range and timing, evaded 90-percent of Marquez’s punch salvos just by leaning away or by taking half a step back. He was always in position to nail Marquez in return.

Whether Mayweather was walking back to the ropes while ducking under or shoulder rolling with incoming shots or standing his ground and blocking punches, Marquez couldn’t hit him with a clean punch.

Mayweather kept his chin tucked behind his left shoulder and taunted Marquez with lightening-fast lead hooks while measuring the veteran for lead right-hand counters.

There wasn’t a thing Marquez could do about it.

Not many fighters can.

Oscar De La Hoya, who suffered through 12 rounds of frustration when he fought Mayweather at junior middleweight in May of 2007, was impressed by what he saw Saturday night.

“Floyd is back,” the president of Golden Boy Promotions, Marquez’s promoter and co-promoter of Saturday’s card, said at the post-fight press conference. “He still has his speed. He’s probably faster now.

“He had no rust whatsoever. I have to give Floyd all the credit for his discipline and dedication to the sport.”

Could a bigger, stronger, faster fighter than Marquez — someone like Mosley — give Mayweather a run for his money?

Mosley, THE RING’s No. 1-rated welterweight, certainly thinks so.

The future hall of famer challenged Mayweather during the victor’s post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman.

While Mosley’s uncharacteristic behavior drew a rise from the crowd, Mayweather, who is just as evasive outside of the ring as he is inside of it, wasn’t amused.

“All I ask for is respect,” he said. “It was my night. It was my time to shine and (Mosley) ruined it.”

True, but the welterweight titleholder, who destroyed Antonio Margarito in January, may have created some interest in that eventual showdown.

De La Hoya was asked about a Mayweather-Mosley fight at the post-fight press conference.

“Mosley has a strong case (to be Mayweather’s next opponent),” said De La Hoya, whose company promotes Mosley. “I don’t see why not. Mosley and Floyd are in position to be part of history. They can create a mega-fight, the Super Bowl of all fights.”

De La Hoya was then asked about potential showdown between current pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather, who was considered No. 1 before he briefly retired last year.

“Look at what Juan Manuel did to Pacquiao,” De La Hoya said. “A lot of you think Juan Manuel beat Pacquiao. Now what do you think Floyd would do to Pacquiao?”

“Easy work!” members of the Mayweather clan called out.

Maybe. Maybe not.

De La Hoya answered that question with his promoter’s hat on. Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, has made it clear that he considers the Filipino icon to be the A-side of a potential matchup with Mayweather.

Perhaps De La Hoya doesn’t want to deal with his former promoter any more than Mayweather does, because something was obstructing his logic when he answered that question about a Pacquiao matchup.

Yes, Marquez gave Pacquiao hell in the 24 rounds they fought in two classic fights, but those bouts took place at featherweight and junior lightweight.

It says here that Pacquiao’s speed, in-and-out footwork, activity and southpaw stance would give Mayweather a lot more to defend against than he had to deal with against Marquez.

Unlike Marquez, Pacquiao has proven to be able to add pounds to his frame without losing speed, reflexes or power. His frenetic style may enable him to outwork the reserved defensive master.

Or perhaps Pacquiao’s aggression would work against him, causing him to run into Mayweather’s quick-and-accurate counter punches.

Who knows? All talk of a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will have to wait until after the PacMan’s showdown with Cotto on Nov. 14.

That’s not a “gimme” fight for Pacquiao. Should Cotto win that bout, THE RING’s No. 2-rated welterweight should be considered a worthy challenge for Mayweather.

If there’s any active boxer who has the style and physical attributes to emulate what Jose Luis Castillo did to Mayweather in their hotly contested first bout at lightweight, it’s Cotto.

The Puerto Rican star stalks opponents behind a hard jab and possesses the timing to counter faster boxers with his left hook and straight right, which generally land with sledgehammer effect. Cotto also has a punching body attack, something Castillo used to great effect whenever he forced Mayweather up against the ropes.

Mosley, who Cotto beat via close decision in 2007, is also known for his body attack. The former three-division champ possesses more reliable whiskers than Cotto, is probably the strongest active welterweight, and has hand speed that comes close to Mayweather’s.

There aren’t many active boxers who can deal with Mayweather’s confounding blend of speed, reflexes, caution, and defensive genius, but Mosley, Pacquiao and Cotto are probably among the few that can.

Let’s hope we see these fights in the near future.

Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]

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