The news is a little dry today, so lets try something a little more fun...
The press conference was completely dull, and these two are doing a terrible job of building up the fight thus far. When Pacquiao is one doing most of the 'trash talking' in a fight featuring Floyd Mayweather it almost feels like we've entered the twilight zone. I wanted theatrics, antics, hoopla! Even something close to the De La Hoya build up would do nicely. Where the hell is Roger?! After all, we do all have to suffer through the anticipation of the actual fight for another 2 months -- and I need something worthwhile writing about for you fine people out there (well - most of you anyway).
Undoubtedly no, this isn't an event that anyone really needs to talk up - but we've all finally got what we've wanted for these past few years so we might as well make a go of the whole build-up process! And being that I (singlehandedly) brought this fight together, I might as well start beating the war drums myself. Let's get the hype train moving people! We'll also have a little fun and reflection along the way! And as a special surprise for all of you (mostly to up my very limited production value), I've also invited none other than Jim Lampley to commentate along side of me for this article. So let's kick this thing off...
One of the most intriguing aspects of the upcoming May-Pac fight will be the respective left vs. right hands thrown by each man. Because we have a case of an orthodox fighter fighting a southpaw, Mayweather's right hand and Pacquiao's left hand are supposed to be their most effective punches against one another (according to conventional wisdom). In fact, not only are these supposed to be their most effective punches, we already know that these are their best respective punches to begin with. A captivating dichotomy indeed.
Some fighters (i.e. Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, and Victor Ortiz) have taken an opposite-handed approach to fighting. Oscar and Miguel are really left handers who fight in a conventional stance, and Victor a righty who fights lefty. [Side-note: the reason these three have taken this approach is because they prefer to have their strong hand as their lead since you theoretically use it more - but alas, that's a story for another day]. But in this case we have a classic orthodox fighter vs a classic southpaw - and all-time great ones at that. It's going to be a "race down the chute!"
In anticipation of the fight, lets take a look at how both men use their preferred weapons to inflict damage on their adversaries. I've said in the past that I think their respective crosses are pretty much a wash in terms of who has the better one, so we're just going to take a look at some clips of both men doin' their damn thang. Whomever establishes and lands their respective lefts/rights most effectively during the course of fight will figure heavily into determining the winner.
LET'S START WITH MANNY!
Wil Esco: "So what can we look forward to with 8-division titlist Manny Pacquiao, Jim?"
Jim Lampley: "Bang, Bang, Ba-Bang, Bang-bang!"
Wil Esco: "Asuste analysis as always, Jim."
Above, in Manny's destruction of Oscar De La Hoya, we see that part of what makes Manny so effective with his left is the complete speed and suddenness that he throws it with. He's never been shy about throwing it with conviction - and often. A lot of times he launches it from so many different angles, with power, that it's tremendously difficult to predict. He throws it straight through the guard, around the guard, and even from up under the guard - all in one sequence right here. And I really can't overemphasize the suddenness factor (it's not just the speed), that makes him difficult to deal with. It's really really hard to time his shots. For instance, I can promise you that Ricky Hatton never saw this coming...
BOOM! - ehhh- I mean GOOM! Rejoice Pac Nation!!! For that lightning-left hath been bestoweth upon Manny by the mighty Zeus himself! That and the look on Hatton's face really says all we need to know about that left hand. I think Marquez himself would agree about how troublesome that can truly be. After what we're about to see below, he made a conscious effort to tirelessly study Manny's left for their subsequent fights, knowing exactly how deadly it can be.
Sheesh, Manny is so fast with that left that he was even able to cock it back a bit before he lands it. Cocking back your punches is typically a no-no in boxing because it's a tell - but since Manny can close the distance so fast with his feet, he's still able to connect right on the button. Since this fight, many moons ago, Manny has also added in some wrinkles to how he throws his left, making him even more crafty. Lets take a look at the Algieri fiasco-of-a-PPV.
Note above how Manny is able to slip to the inside of Algieri's jab to counter with his own power punch right down the middle. Algieri gets a little hesitant the next go 'round and only paws his jab slightly, to which Pac responds by performing the same evasive maneuver - but this time throws a hard straight left to the body instead. In this instance, he doesn't even turn his hand over so he can squeeze a narrower width of the glove through Aligeri's elbows.
Now Pacquaio has his man reeling from all the lefts - to the point where he becomes a little less scientific and a little more "let me throw it as often as possible because I'm dominating you." You'll notice this from the triple left hand he throws at the end of this sequence. That triple left wasn't even thrown viciously, but Pac is in the zone early against an overmatched opponent and is basically just toying with him.
I, myself, love it when Manny throws his lefts off of his moving angles, which may be his flashiest and most effect move. The Margarito sequence below exemplifies exactly what I mean by this...
In this sequence we see Manny not just throwing the left, but throwing it as he's moving off to the sides to avoid counter fire. He's slippin' & slidin' (without getting wet) and landing shots of his own. When he's fighting like this, the man is really more than a handful. There are some caveats to this, though. For one, it's tremendously draining to fight like this for long stretches of time. Secondly, it's much easier to do this against flat-footed plodders. It's truly beautiful to watch, but don't expect Pacquaio to be dancing circles around Mayweather while landing punches quite like this.
And speaking of Mayweather...
Wil Esco: "Fill us in on Mayweather, Jim. What does the audience need to know?"
Jim Lampley: "Right hands from Mayweather, land like las-ers!!!"
Wil Esco: " Took the words right outta my mouth, Jim."
This is one of Floyd's patented moves - the pull counter. The basis of this counter derives from his sublime vision, anticipation, and reflexes. In this particular fight, Floyd had been punishing N'Dou repeatedly, nearly every time he threw a jab. By this point in the fight, Floyd had already inflicted so much damage that he just drills him with the straight right over and over again until N'Dou crumbles. I'd describe the look on N'Dou's face here as one of confusion, wondering how many times he just got plastered with the same exact punch. I count three in this particular sequence, and perhaps 1,854 in total.
Like Pacquiao, Mayweather is also adept in throwing his shots from varying angles, depending on where he sees an opening. Let's have a look at his fight with Miguel Cotto.
Floyd throws his usual straight right hand, but noticing that Cotto is defending against straight shots he then starts throwing a sweeping right around Cotto's guard, enabling it to land effectively. Switching the arc on his right hand is one of his effective tools for making sure that it doesn't get nullified in fights. But Floyd doesn't solely rely on his speed or angles to land his right hand, often times he just uses basic fundamentals to set them up. See below.
In this sequence above from the Ricky Hatton fight, you'll notice that Floyd sets up his right hand by getting low and throwing a hard jab to the body. He then goes back into the same exact posture, in order to give Hatton the same look, only to this time throw the straight right upstairs to the head. Clearly the way Hatton falls in and grabs Floyd will give you an indication as to how effective the shot was.
Then, when Floyd gets into his groove, he just starts mixing in his right hands with his left, switching up the angles on his punches in combination...
Floyd has Gatti well under control, and just starts letting his hands go - making sure to switch up the straight right hands with right hooks to simply overwhelm Arturo. His eyes are already puffed up and Floyd ensures that there's no way he'll be able to see where the right hands are coming from. Of course, even if you're eyes aren't swollen it can still be difficult to see those right hand leads coming. Enter Juan Manuel Marquez...
This more or less sums up the sneaky right hand of Mayweather. He actually positions himself the same way he does for the pull counter so that he has the leverage to either pull away and counter your punch, or just simply push off his back foot to lead with his right. Watch carefully as to how his back for is squarely on his toes (with his heel completely off the mat) so that he can spring forward with the lead right at will. Of course, the real brilliance here is his ability to land these shots while performing an evasive maneuver and pivoting back into position - all so fluidly.
Now I know I haven't picked out any of Floyd's clips against southpaws just yet (because I wasn't intending to go down the strategic analysis path in this piece), but let's see an example. I could've chosen to only display sequences of Mayweather's right hands against southpaws, but I feel like I've captured a lot of evidence of this in the past and I didn't want to recycle the same material. But just for kicks, I'll offer this one last example.
This is one of Floyd's tried and true methods to land his right hand - by using the "touch jab." In short, this is basically when he uses left hand as a measuring stick, and to blind his opponent, while he lines up a right cross. You'll see Floyd utilize this method twice in succession against Ortiz with great effect. Floyd can land his right against orthodox and southpaws alike.
So now that we've covered the most potent weapons of both Manny and Floyd, I'll refer back to my original point about this fight being a "race down the chute." By the "chute" I'm really talking about the inherent angle that is open between an orthodox and southpaw fighter. You can be sure that both Floyd and Manny will be looking to unload their pet punches early and often, and the one who is able to beat the other to this opening most often will most likely wind up winning the fight.
IS IT MAY YET?