There's something about an undefeated record.
It's not everything, of course -- you'd be hard-pressed to find any learned fans who claim Rocky Marciano is the greatest heavyweight of all time or that Sven Ottke deserves a spot among the great super middleweights.
When you've fought as long and against such quality opposition as Floyd Mayweather, however, it's a damn impressive feat. This weekend (Sat., May 2, 2015), "Money" will look to make a fellow superstar, Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao, the forty-eighth notch on his many championship belts.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round coverage of "Mayweather vs. Pacquiao" on fight night, starting with the pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast at 9 p.m. ET.
Last night, we broke down the offensive juggernaut who is Pacquiao right here. Now, let us take a look at the defensive maestro, Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr.:
Name: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Record: 47-0, 26 KO
Last Five Fights: Marcos Maidana (UD), Marcos Maidana (MD), Saul Alvarez (MD), Robert Guerrero (UD), Miguel Cotto (UD)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Oscar de la Hoya, Zab Judah, Jose Luis Castillo (x2), Diego Corrales, Angel Manfredy, Genaro Hernandez.
It may surprise you, but there was a time when Mayweather wasn't just outclassing people -- he was stopping them in emphatic fashion. He retired Hernandez, stopped Manfredy in two rounds, dropped the ultra-tough Corrales five times and laid such a beating on Arturo Gatti that the latter's corner stopped the fight in the sixth round.
While that aggression and power hasn't stood the test of time, his defense has. Mayweather was once known as "Pretty Boy" for his perpetually-unmarked face after sparring sessions and he remains an incredible defensive wizard with his signature shoulder roll defense (also known as the Philly Shell).
Mayweather keeps his left hand at around navel-level, keeping his chin tucked and shoulder high. When a punch comes, he excels at keeping his head out of range and either slipping the punch or intercepting it. Shots to the body run into his left forearm and elbow.
Even a combination puncher as adept as Oscar de la Hoya struggled to land clean on a cornered Mayweather.
While the shoulder roll serves to stop punches that reach him, the name of the game for Mayweather is range. More specifically, just outside of his opponents. Unlike Juan Manuel Marquez, who prefers to stand his ground and counter mid-exchange, Mayweather frustrates his opponents by being just out of reach of their punches. His incredible defensive awareness allows him to pull his head out of range, leaving just his heavily-defended body as a target.
Even when he's cornered, opponents find themselves entirely unable to land a telling blow, often eating his signature right hand when they try.
Mayweather doesn't just keep his head out of reach, he can still move about the ring extremely well. He struggled in the first frame against Maidana when the Argentinian forced him to the ropes or corners. In the rematch, he focused more on circling. While the hazard of circling on the ropes is that you have a 50 percent chance of running smack into a punch, Mayweather used misdirection extremely well. Here, he fakes to his right before turning Maidana with his left hook, opening up plenty of space.
Offensively, Mayweather has both that signature pull-back and lead right hand and an extremely effective left hook. He used that hook to brilliant effect against Corrales and, more recently, dropped Marquez early in the fight. Most famously, he made Ricky Hatton run face-first into a turnbuckle with a gorgeous check hook. He also has a short uppercut, part of his terrific close-range arsenal.
Finally, "Money" has an excellent body attack, which I'd call his key to victory in the first fight with Maidana. In his more aggressive days, he could produce some cringe-inducing beatdowns to the belly, including his thrashing of Gatti. He can still land good hooks with both hands on the front foot and on the retreat.
But, we all know about how Mayweather wins. How does he lose?
More than once, we've seen someone get the better of Mayweather early in the fight. Shane Mosley jacked his jaw in a big way with a right straight behind a body jab, de la Hoya controlled the early rounds with his jab, Judah found success with his blistering hand speed and Maidana did some quality mugging.
Each time, though, Mayweather has adjusted midway through and taken over the fight.
What he did show against Maidana, though, was concession of position and some predictability. In recent years, Mayweather has been willing to be cornered or taken to the ropes, relying on his shoulder roll and head positioning to keep him free of danger. This cost him against Maidana, who was more than willing to roughhouse and take what hits he could get. While he fixed this tendency in the rematch, he also took his biggest blow since Mosley when Maidana drew out the pull-back right hand and countered with his own.
Again, Mayweather has never shown a consistent weakness. Castillo pressured him well in the first fight and couldn't do the same in the second. The same goes for Maidana. Mayweather just adjusts so well that it's hard to pinpoint a particular strategy for beating him other than just burying him in volume and chip damage. The limited success people have found, though, raises an interesting question on how he'll handle Pacquiao's combination speed and ability to close distance.
Floyd Mayweather predictions: Strengths, weaknesses and keys to Manny Pacquiao victory tonight
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round coverage of "Mayweather vs. Pacquiao" TONIGHT, starting with the pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast at 9 p.m. ET RIGHT HERE.