By Lee Payton
Photos © Ray Kasprowicz
In Part One, I examined the important numbers, like Mayweather's advantages in height, reach, weight and age, as well as the possible effects of his 2 year lay-off.
Part two will deal with what I consider the "meat". I'll break down the styles of the fighters and touch on some intangibles before taking a stab at who may have the edge after 12 rounds.
Mayweather is a defensive wizard, with great reaction time, solid fundamentals and educated feet. He's one of a very select few in boxing that can sit in the pocket or along the ropes and make quality fighters look ordinary. In truth, he may be the best defender I have ever seen.
On offense though, I see a few chinks that Marquez can exploit. For instance, these days, Floyd is basically a pot-shotter. If you are not familiar with the term, it means he is a fighter who uses his feet to set up single punches from the outside. It's a style he loves because of the safety factor.
Can he beat a brilliant counter puncher with a single shot here and there? When he's in pot-shot mode, he only throws 2 punches - a lead left hook and a quick lead right that he jumps in with. I'm not sure anyone can afford to leave their feet when facing a technician of this quality. If Marquez is not already prepared for these two punches, I believe that he will adjust as the fight goes on. He has on every other occasion, right?
We have all heard Mayweather talk about how he thinks he will be the first man to stop Marquez. Of course this is likely all talk. Mayweather only cares about winning. However, I do believe there is some extra pressure on him to perform, which could mean we're in for some early fireworks. If Money comes out uncharacteristically aggressive, he will get tagged. When that happens, I think he'll chill out on the macho thing and turn on his legs.
If Floyd decides to do more moving than punching, we're probably looking at a tactical affair. Some feel that a slower paced fight is in his favour, but I don't necessarily agree. Marquez is one of the most patient fighters in the game. Throughout his entire career he has shown the ability to come out on top of rounds in which he's only had to throw about 40 punches.
Furthermore, if the underdog sticks to the body first (like I believe he will), and if the judges are paying attention, his punches could end up being the one landing the cleaner scoring blows.
I've mentioned Marquez' amazing ability to counter in combination. When he sees an opening, it's just a natural reaction to respond with 3 or 4 crisp punches, up and down. Mayweather can also counter with the best of them, but the difference I see is in the creation of those opportunities to respond. From what I have observed, Floyd is a master of exploiting the openings that his opponents give him. He's not great at creating them himself, which is why guys who have fought him at a slower pace have always done better than those fighters who just tried to blow him up. I don't see Marquez leaving himself wide open very often, given his history.
Enough with the technical stuff though. Many times fights are won or lost on those factors we can't see or touch. Boxing is just as much a game of guts, timing and determination as style and physical attributes.
During the first installment of HBO's 24/7 series, Nacho Beristain said that his pupil has an "extra sense". I thought that was such a brilliant quote. He is talking about that extra indefinable quality that all great fighters possess. You can't quite put your finger on it, but it's there. It's that added something that makes them just better than most everyone else. He said it comes from all of Juan Manuel's experience and hard work in the gym. It's no coincidence that the best fighters tend to be the hardest workers. Floyd is going to have to deal with someone who knows what being "great" is all about. It is something he has never had to contend with before. He is not going to have his way in there.
Marquez is as determined as any fighter in the world today. When other fighters weaken or lose focus, he takes it to another level. I don't think it is any stretch to say that he is mentally tougher and more secure than Mayweather. That is significant in any fight.
Another factor to consider is timing. Like I've mentioned before, it has been two years since Floyd was last seen in a boxing ring, and while I think the negative effects will be minimal, if there was ever a time to beat him, this is it. When he was off "making it rain" or whatever, his opponent was achieving the greatest results of his entire career.
Mayweather is a great fighter and an all-time talent, but no boxer comes back 100% after a vacation of that length. And they don't usually come back against the best fighter they have ever fought either.
So who will have their hand raised when it's all over? I don't know. Ask me on Friday, September 18th, and I'll have a final pick. I will say that I think this fight is a lock to go 12 rounds. Patient aggression and body punching vs slick boxing and some eye-catching punches. I see a lot of close rounds, which makes it such a tough call. You just never know what the judges will like on any given night.
My bottom line is this: Marquez will miss more than usual, but Mayweather will get hit more than usual.
What's the betting line on a draw?
email Lee Payton
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
By Lee Payton