Even though I have been coaching boxing for over 20 years, I still realize that there is so much to learn about the “sweet science.” Many nights I find myself in front of the television watching professional boxing. My wife questions why I do this since I own and operate a small boxing gym in Austin, Texas. One would think that being around the sport 10 hours a day would be enough. Boxing is an ever evolving sport which takes years to master. I joke with my clients that by the time I am 80 years old I will probably be pretty good at the sport (I am currently 51 years of age). I explain to my wife that what I am doing, by watching professional boxing on television, is attempting to analyze the different and varying boxing styles of the fighters.
Lately I have been studying the unique fighting style of professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Ask any student of the sport and you will quickly learn that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has one of the craftiest styles in today’s modern era of boxing. Needless to say, Mayweather’s boxing skills have proven to be problematic for each opponent he has faced. Mayweather’s style of fighting has left many excellent boxers looking confused and frustrated in the ring. Punching power coupled with extraordinary defensive skills and footwork cause many to wonder if the undefeated Mayweather (46 – 0 losses, 26 KOs) can ever be beaten.
Mayweather’s last title defense against Argentine boxer Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) on May 3, 2014 proved to be a challenge for the undefeated champion. Despite scoring a majority decision victory, Maidana’s relentless, hard punching style of boxing revealed what may be the key to unlocking the Mayweather puzzle (as many boxing pundits have phrased it). From my perspective, Maidana utilized one simple strategy to almost secure a win over Mayweather. Specifically, “he let his hands go.” Those who teach the sport of boxing, such as me, also refer to this style of boxing as “throwing combinations” or “punching in bunches.” Simply put, Maidana “stayed busy” throughout the entire 12 rounds of boxing. While he did not secure the win, he nonetheless exposed the vulnerability of Mayweather’s style. A review of the actual fight footage shows Maidana pressing forward while at the same time using both hands to deliver punches from all angles, many from awkward positions. Mayweather’ s elusive boxing style and superb defensive skills, were , in my opinion, the saving grace which secured the win.
Successful competitive boxing (both amateur and professional) incorporates several key components such as clean technique, speed, footwork, power, and effective defense (hand blocks, lateral movement, and head movement). However, the concept of staying busy and “letting the hands go” may help a boxer overcome any deficiencies he might have in other areas (such as footwork or defense). Without a doubt, boxers who “let the hands go” are exciting to watch and more often than not emerge victorious. This is a concept that I will continue to teach to the boxers who train under my tutelage. The question remains whether Floyd Mayweather will continue to remain undefeated. My response to this is that perhaps one day he will be defeated if he is matched against an opponent who stays busy, remains focused, does not get frustrated, and “let’s his hands go!”