14 Floyd Mayweather Strategies You Should Learn From

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With larger than life persona, Floyd Mayweather is the best boxer on the planet and in contention for one of the greatest fighters of all time. Throughout boxing history, we’ve witnessed fighters, with once in a generation feel who epitomize the era, they fought in.

Their fighting style coupled with their persona synchronized displayed the cultural norms existing around the fighting sport. It’s true that a role chooses the fighter and not vice-versa, but without the aura and skills, it’s quite hard to etch your name in the history books as one of the absolute best.

Today, we’re going to learn from one of the absolute greats in boxing history – Floyd Mayweather.

At 51-0, with his last fight against an MMA poster boy – Conor McGregor, Floyd doesn’t have much left to accomplish. Thus, when he sees a fight capable of adding over a 200-300 million quid to his pockets, he doesn’t entertain it. It’s a mega superstar. And he’s earned it.

Keeping the commercial side apart, the guy’s work rate is top of the roof. He’s an absolute beast and behind the curtains, it’s not a loud-mouthed boxer proclaiming that he’s the best but a loud-hearted boxer working to prove it to the world and most importantly, himself.

If you’re a boxing fan, you might want to learn a lot from Mayweather and what makes him the absolute best. And today, we’re going to do just that. Let’s start with:

Mayweather’s lead hand is a remarkable weapon for the boxer. He uses it to measure his opponents, occupy his opponents, strike them or perhaps ‘blind’ them temporarily to follow up with an unpredictable shot.

In this clip below, you can see Floyd using his lead hand against Canelo Alvarez simply to measure him at first. He does so with all of his opponents and begins the move by taking the lead hand directly from his waist. He puts it in front of his opponent’s face and brings it down to his waist. Very simple movement but it helps him set the distance cue.

Range Finder

This move is also known as the Range Finder. A simple movement used to answer the question, Am I in range to punch? However, the nature of range finder is not just offensive but defensive as well.

In offensive manner, it can help you understand the nature of strikes you want to throw and how far you’ll have to step in to throw the punch to successfully land it. Since you don’t want to misjudge the distance, this simple technique comes in handy.

In a defensive manner, a range finder is useful in understanding how far you want to from an opponent while throwing a punch. For instance, if an opponent is moving close to your lead hand, then you’ll take a step back at a certain angle and protect yourself.

Thus, the lead hand can be used offensively and defensively and its usage varies from fighter to fighter.

Blinding tool

Mayweather is a genius when it comes to the lead hand usage. In this clip below, you can see him using his lead hand to blind Canales. He does so by successfully blocking or obstructing his opponent’s field of vision. Especially when fighters are in high guard, a lead hand is capable of taking away the frontal vision temporarily and force them to drop their high guard position.

Mayweather boxing

Occupy or distract

Mayweather yet again uses the lead hand to occupy and distract Miguel Cotto. It puts his opponent in shambles trying to predict what’s going to follow after the lead hand. If you don’t use the lead hand, that’s one less weapon in your arsenal. You can use it to leave your opponent worried through simple movement. The idea here is to make your opponent complacent by seeing the lead hand again and again. This will enable you to set up various offensive moves.

Jab to the body

Perhaps one of the most undermined aspects of Floyd’s game. He employs jab to the body to break his opponent’s rhythm, prevent them from stopping forward, helps to gas them out. What’s interesting is that Floyd uses this move after he makes his opponent miss the target.

In the clip above, you can see Floyd stepping forward into the punch. However, you can also see that he’s keeping his head low to prevent any form of counters. His tremendous speed helps him to get in and get out quickly as he steps out from the punching range of his opponents. You must note that all these jabs to the body are following a straight trajectory, all of them are in line. He doesn’t jab or punch down, he punches straight. The most unique aspect of the movement is him stepping his lead foot forward which helps him to change levels continuously.

Targeting the solar plexus

Floyd’s jabs are by no means pesky. He targets his opponent’s solar plexus and with great accuracy which adds to the effectiveness. This Mayweather move is more about accuracy than power and is capable of taking the wind out of his opponents. Floyd often lands his jabs after making his opponent’s miss their shot. This is an incredibly smart move as it gasses out his opponent quickly whilst catching them off-guard. As a boxer, you must already know that when you miss those big punches, per se the uppercut or the hook or the overhand, you lose a considerable amount of energy. Now imagine a jab being thrown at you just after you’ve missed. Not only is it irritating but gasses you out by making you run out of oxygen.

In this clip below, you can see Mayweather taking on Marquez. Marquez likes to feint towards the right side of his opponent. Floyd studies his opponent’s movements till Round 4 and in the following round, he starts shooting a jab to catch Marquez whenever he feints. With great precision, Floyd is able to catch Marquez as he moves his head from left to right. With that said, let’s study the importance of Mayweather’s foot placement during his maneuver.

Lead Foot: With the lead foot, he successfully establishes his position i.e. the line of attack or your direction of attack. For this reason, your lead foot should always be placed at the center of your opponent, generally pointing towards him.

Trailing Foot: He uses his trailing foot to establish his angle similar to every other boxer. By using the correct angles, you can set up the angles from which you’ll be landing your blows. An example of using angles includes shuffling or using half steps around your opponent.

Overall, you need to synchronize both the feet for effective movement. Though proper synchronization, not only will you be able to control the distance but you will also be able to control the fight.

mayweather footwork

With that said, let’s talk about foot positioning.

With that said, let’s talk about foot positioning.

Look at the image below for reference.

You can see that there are three circles Orange, Blue and Red around Mayweather’s trailing foot.

As pointed out in the graphic, if his Floyd’s foot would have been in the orange circle, he would be too straight of sideways from his opponent. And that would lead him being easily off-balance with a left hook from his opponent, render the usage of his right hand ineffective and leave him vulnerable if his opponent gets past his jab.  

Now if you look at the red circle, with foot placement in that region, he might present more opportunities to his opponent to attack. He won’t possess the best of balance and would leave him vulnerable if his opponent moves sideways. Much like we saw in Lomachenko’s tutorial yesterday.

Finally, we can see where Floyd’s foot is actually at, it’s right in the blue circle i.e. the perfect spot. With that position, he’s neither too close nor too far from his opponent. It provides him great balance and mobility. With that position, he’s not too square nor to sideways, thus even if he’s against an opponent who attacks the side with quick movements, Floyd doesn’t leave an opening for that. Smart foot positioning by Floyd Mayweather. Excellent.

In the clip below, you can see Floyd performing a hard feint against Marquez. A tool quite effective when you and your opponent are punching at the same time. A hard feint is a move where you sell the movement not just with your hands but your feet as well. Floyd in this clip below effectively uses the punch to draw a response from Marquez.

In the clip below, you can see Floyd performing a hard feint against Marquez. A tool quite effective when you and your opponent are punching at the same time. A hard feint is a move where you sell the movement not just with your hands but your feet as well. Floyd in this clip below effectively uses the punch to draw a response from Marquez.

After catching him with a jab, you can see Mayweather taking a half step to his left and shoot his jab. Look how cleanly he counters Marquez’s jab and shoots his own. Notice Floyd’s foot positioning – both the lead and trailing foot being used effectively to change the position and angles.

Pull Counter

Using the distance deception, Floyd appears much closer to his opponent than he actually is. He does so to incite a jab from his opponent and once the bait is successful, he counters with a right hand. A point to note here is when using the distance deception, Floyd leans in towards his opponent.

As you can see in the clip above, Floyd successfully uses distance deception to draw the jab. While doing so, his head, gloves, and lead foot are all in the same line. Also, you can note that his back is curved as he is leaning forward whereas his opponents’ back is straight and the majority of them are in the conventional stance. 

In most of the clips, you can see that Floyd is pulling away from the jab whilst changing his head slots. The posture allows Floyd to retreat easily in case if needs to avoid an incoming jab. By pulling back at waist level using his hips. Moreover, this pullback position also puts him in a pole position to counter with a straight right over an extended jab. However, that’s not it. 

As soon as he lands the straight right, he knows that a counter is coming is way and thus he is defensively responsible to evade the counter by ducking down. SIMPLY EXCEPTIONAL. Watch the moves he tries in different fights below.

At the end of it, there’s a loophole in this move. Fighters such as Canelo Alvarez know that Mayweather would try to bait him. Thus, he never fell prey to the pull counter as compared to the other fighters who did. But what’s more fascinating is that Floyd knows that Canelo has figured the pull counterpart. But Floyd is a genius at reading his opponent and thus he got the better of Canelo by shooting a jab, drawing his right-hand counter and going ahead to land his own counter. SIMPLY OUTSTANDING OPPONENT READING.

Floyd Pull Counter

In the image above, you can see Floyd successfully dodging the right hand which he had anticipated as soon as he threw the jab. He fades away, makes Canelo miss his target and lands an overhand left to the temple. You might not notice such quick movements but that is pure genius. Floyd has counter for his opponent’s counter to his counter! Confusing? Imagine have the ability to pull that off in real bouts.

Leaping Left Hook

Mayweather’s “Bruce Lee” Leaping Left Hook is always a highlight in Floyd’s match. It starts with Floyd landing a deceptive left hook or a jab or a straight. Usually, he changes levels slightly and feints hook to the body. However, as his opponent, you’d never know what’s coming your way and is it coming to your head or to your body? As an opponent, that’s a nightmarish position to be in because you’re in a state of confusion as to when you should time your counter. Should you do it or not?

In the clip below, you can see Floyd changing the levels. He does so to sell the punch to the body. He intentionally disguises a left hook as a jab to the body which makes it so hard for his opponent to counter. While changing the levels, Floyd steps his lead foot forward. By dropping his left hand, he further sells the punch to the body. Simultaneously, it looks as if Floyd is gearing up for a right hand to the face. This leaves Marquez in a state of perpetual confusion and perhaps bamboozles him.

Check Hook

Floyd usually uses the check hook to escape from the ropes. It’s ideal for him as it allows to transition from defense to offense by escaping at an angle through pivoting his left foot and stepping out with his right. A check hook works wonders against aggressive opponents or those who tend to lunge in. And Mayweather being a defensive master, likes to use this hook off the ropes.

In the clip below, you can see Mayweather knocking one of his opponents out with a left check hook. Well, that wasn’t a onetime execution. Floyd tried to nail the check hook on numerous occasions but his timing was off. By Round 7, Floyd was connecting but still not there. However, in Round 10 he connected with Hatton and put him to sleep. This goes to show how each round in every Mayweather fight is, in fact, a new learning curvature.

Exciting. In the clip below against Miguel Cotto, you can Floyd getting into high guard, when that happens in a fight with Floyd close to the ropes, a check hook is mostly likely to follow. He is expert at landing check hooks when his opponents are charging in. It’s not just the impact but the overall movement that is beautiful. As soon as he connects, Floyd is simultaneously pivoting on his lead foot and steps his right foot over to the left and immediately brings up his left shoulder up high for protection.

Unbelievable Pivoting & Leg Movements

Now that we’ve seen Floyd’s simple but effective skills. It’s time for us to check out the boxer’s most outrageous skills.

In this clip below, you can see the genius of Floyd Mayweather as it completely summarizes him as a fighter. These are the skills which prove that not only is he the best fighter of his era but arguably the best technical fighter of all time.

In the clip above, you can see Mayweather stepping forward. He starts by getting on his toes on the right foot. He is perfectly aligned with his opponent. Even their opposite foot is perfectly aligned. Floyd is all set to throw a jab, look at what happens. Now as soon as Floyd shoots the jab, Marquez slips inside the jab to his left. This allows Marquez to set up an angle on Floyd by stepping left. Now in current position, Floyd is susceptible to damaging counter, so what does he do? He pre-emptively pulls away to safety. This is perhaps the best defensive move you can see from a fighter in a boxing ring. 

The height of Mayweather’s ring IQ is second to none. Immediately after stepping out, you can see him countering Marquez. Right from defending himself to launching himself with a straight right hand, it’s simply too much greatness being displayed within a few seconds.

Block Removal & Offense

In the clip below, you can see Floyd using his left hand to remove Cotto’s guard i.e. his left hand which is guarding his chin. Thus, Floyd will first unlock the defense and then shoot a right hook off of that. He is one of the most creative fighters capable of finding creative ways to set up his offense.

Straight Right Hand

Floyd’s straight right hand is one of the most accurate punches in the history of boxing. He sets up these right hands by changing levels and launching off the toe of his right foot.

As you can see in the clip below, Floyd changes levels and does so to disguise the right hand as a left jab to the body. This makes it really hard for his opponent to time and avoids Floyd’s right as it’s merely unpredictable to guess. Most of his opponents drop their guard because they are expecting a left jab to the body. And as we learned above, Floyd likes to launch/propel himself forward by getting on his toes. This launch technique is similar to that of Bernard Hopkins, however, Hopkins kept his chin tucked behind his left shoulder whereas Mayweather doesn’t.

In the clip below, as a first-time watcher, you similar to Floyd’s opponent will think that Floyd is about to shoot a jab to the body. However, he deceives everyone by changing levels and makes it look as if he’s going to throw a jab to the body. This will make Hatton drop his guard and reach for the jab to the body which is never going to arrive. By the time Hatton sets himself up to handle the jab, an overhand right is already on its way to his head. This is simply a nightmarish position for Floyd’s opponents as they can’t figure out whether to block the jab or block the right which they can’t even see coming.

Inside fighting and control

Inside fighting is a crucial skill in boxing as outside fighting. Add to the fact that Mayweather is simply the best in his era when it comes to inside fighting, you’re in for a treat.

In the clip above, you can see Floyd’s on the inside of Hatton. Watches how his left arm is set to block any incoming uppercut whereas his left is a position to defend against a left hook. Like Hopkins, Floyd fights inside his shell and his chin is mostly tucked behind his shoulders in contrast to what we learned above.

After digging Ricky Hatton to the body, it leaves his opponent becoming hyper-aware of the body shots. However, what Ricky doesn’t know is that Floyd is more than capable of throwing powerful headshots from that range. What a mistake! As Floyd leans in, pushes his opponent off and lands a right hand. After doing so, he does not retract his arm, he knows that he needs to control his opponent. Thus, he controls his opponent’s head using his head hand to set up a left hook, right-hand combination.

In the clip below, you can learn about the sequence of punches which help Floyd finish his opponent. By using the principle of controlling his opponent. As you can see Floyd makes use of his forearms to control his opponent. He then creates space by pushing with the forearms in order to land the final blow i.e. the left hook which puts Hatton to sleep for the final time.

Similar control can be seen in his fight against Miguel Cotto.

In the clip below, you can see extra-ordinary skills displayed by Floyd under pressure in his fight against Canelo. These are amongst the advanced Mayweather skills which showcase his mastery of the fundamentals.

Before we study this in detail, let’s study about when a counterpuncher can attack. There are three openings:

  1. Before the Punch: Countering before punch as the name suggests is countering before the move hasn’t even begun. For example, countering a jab before it even made it across.
  2. During the Punch: Countering during the punch refers to countering simultaneously against the punch being thrown at you. For instance, you slip a jab and then counter it with a right hand.
  3. After the Punch: After the punch implies post punch movement wherein the opponent is retracting his arm. For instance, your opponent shoots a lazy jab and as their pulling their hand back you quickly counter with an overhand right.

You can learn these techniques from the visual samples below.

Mayweather’s Philly Shell Defense

Mayweather Philly Shell Defense

In the image above, you can see that Floyd has his left arm across his body, whilst his right hand is holding the phone with his chin tucked behind his shoulders. Floyd parries the jab and catches the left hooks with his right hand. Body shots are naturally blocked by the combination of his left arm and his right hand and he rolls his right hand with his left shoulder.

As you can see in the clip below, Shane Mosley shoots the jab and Floyd successfully parries it by rolling the right hand off his left shoulder and then immediately counters with a right hand of his own.

You can see a similar example in the clip below which showcases his fight vs Miguel Cotto where he pulls off the same technique in a defensive position.

Overcoming weakness in the Philly Shell Defense

Like every other move in boxing, the Philly Shell defense too has its shortcomings. The biggest shortcoming is that it leaves the temple exposed. Typically, the left-hand side of a fighter is under-protected and naturally, there’s no built-in defense when you’re up against a right hook or an overhand right. Floyd uses the Philly Shell Defense but still is able to overcome these weaknesses by deploying his ingenious techniques.

Using Distance as Defense

Any boxer who uses distance as the defense is a clever fighter. And none more so than Floyd Mayweather himself. Floyd sometimes chooses to close the distance between himself and his opponent in order to smother their defense. Floyd largely controls this fight due to this technique to step back at an angle from his opponent and create and closing the distance.

In the clips below, you can see Floyd dips at the waist and avoids the jab by his opponent. By bending at the waist, Floyd is successfully able to evade a large array of punches. By bending at the waist, he mostly avoids right hooks and overhand rights, that is one successful way of overcoming weakness in Philly Shell Defense.

As you can see in the fight with Canelo Alvarez, Floyd dips at the waist to avoid a jab from Canelo. He then proceeds to neutralize Canelo’s offense by smothering him through closing the distance. Whether he’s stepping back or he’s closing in, he’s using the distance as a defense.  

Frustrating the opponents

Many people dislike Floyd because of his defensive style. However, they’re not alone as his opponents are more frustrated than the people watching the sport. Floyd makes himself hard to reach out to by using distance as his defense. You can see that in his fight against Marquez, where he jabs yet steps back at the same time. This leaves no avenue for Marquez and thus he has to shut down his offense because Floyd is out of his punching range. What follows is Floyd smothering Marquez off his jab and goes on to frustrate him further. Because of this technique, he is able to control the match by effectively controlling the distance and pace of the bout.

You can see Floyd using similar techniques against Cotto. In the image below, you can see Floyd walking towards the right. When a conventional fighter does it against a conventional fighter that’s largely with the intention of neutralizing the opponent’s right hand. By walking towards the right, Floyd is successfully able to take the power away from Cotto’s power hand.

As Floyd is circling to his right, he reduces Cotto’s range of assault weapons to just his left hand. Thus, all he has to worry about is either a left jab or a left hook. However, the speed at which Mayweather is circling around the ring, it’s practically unfeasible for Cotto to set up a left hook. So, now Floyd just has to look for a left jab. What you can’t see in the picture is that at last, the jab arrives, and Floyd simply avoids it by slipping towards the outside by using the 180-degree pivot. Absolutely brilliant move.

Floyd Offense

Setting offense with the lead & changing the punching rhythm

We have seen this before in the Lomachenko and James Toney analysis blog. Similar to them, Floyd is extremely talented at setting up his offenses using his lead hand. Additionally, his style often reflects the intangible skill i.e. changing the rhythm of a punch.

In the clip above, you can see Floyd touching his opponent’s hand and then shooting a right hand, there’s absolutely no delay when you look for the first time between the movement of the lead hand and the right hand. It’s instantaneous. However, when you see it from the right angle, you can see Floyd demonstrating this master technique.

In the image below, you can see Floyd occupying Guerrero’s head using his lead hand. He first checks on to his opponent’s lead hand and then puts his lead hand or the jab onto his opponent’s face. This allows him to momentarily obstruct his opponent and block his field of vision thereby allowing him to sneak a right hook around the left side of Guerrero’s head.

As seen in the clip above, Floyd feints the jab which makes Cotto react by reaching to parry a non-existent jab. Mid-way through the jab, Floyd is able to switch it up and shoot a right hook outside Cottos’ field of vision and is able to catch him clean on the chin.

Similar to the clip above, you can see Canelo raising the guard in the video below. You can see Canelo anticipating the jab to the head. However, Floyd will surprise him with a jab to the solar plexus instead of shooting a jab to the head.

Conclusion

Floyd belongs to the elite group of fighters who are reflections of the ethos and the time in which they boxed. From John Sullivan to Joe Louis, from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, each fighter representing an era, a time which they defined. Floyd is the king of the current era and in the near future, we’ll be reflecting upon his career as one of the all-time greats if not the greatest of all time. He has achieved whatever there is to achieve and has taken up every challenge that has been put in his way. At 51-0, Floyd looks pretty close to drawing the curtains to what may be THE END OF AN ERA.  

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