By Chris Le
We already know about Floyd Mayweather. That he’s young, exceedingly wealthy and very good at what he does – making fighters look silly in the ring. We’ve also heard all of the praises showered upon him (half of which comes from Floyd himself). That he is presently, without question, the best boxer in the world. We know that with his name, sometimes hyperbole follows — that he is the greatest fighter of all-time – but at times, truths as well – that he is the most gifted boxer of his generation.
We find that as much as he runs his mouth and strokes his own ego, which he does at great length, there’s no refuting that he backs up every single word he utters. Because the only way to shut his mouth is to beat him in the ring. And so far, no one has accomplished that feat in 38 tries. That much we know for sure.
I would imagine when an opponent scouts Mayweather, it is not without some mixture of awe and fear, as it’s intimidating how supremely talented Floyd is and how finely honed his skills are. Mayweather is at a point where he no longer has to think in the ring; he merely reacts. It’s all instinct, as if it were Darwinian Evolution that he became a perfect boxing machine. And at this moment, he’s on top of the food chain.
More of a counter-puncher than anything else, in the center of the ring, Mayweather bides his time, extending sporadic but extremely quick jabs or right crosses, waiting for his opponent to create an opening. When he sees a crack, he rarely throws extensive combinations, content with two or three fast and hard blows to the head or body. This is Floyd’s game in a nutshell. He strategically sets up an opponent and strikes with cold efficiency; he doesn’t just blitz with all-out fire power. Lure him into a slugfest all you want, Mayweather will not budge from his game plan. He’ll happily potshot all night.
When he’s pressed against the ropes – which is his second home – Floyd scrunches his shoulders up to his chin, with his left arm protecting his midsection and his right up against the side of his face, rolling with an opponent’s punches. This defensive style, with his reflexes, is quite impenetrable.
With this strategy and sporting a record of 38-0 (with 24 knockouts), Mayweather has captured every one of his 6 titles in 5 weight classes in the same exact fashion – with clinical precision, seemingly effortless ease and with his mouth running. (Check out his style and see some of his highlights here.)
But he has never faced anyone quite like Ricky Hatton, who’s somewhat of a throwback fighter that reminds people of the good old days of boxing and the likes of Rocky Graziano, Carmen Basilio and Gene Fullmer. Hatton, who is all laughs in training camp, is no joke in the ring on fight night. He attacks with the tenacity and determination of a bull and doesn’t stop punching until either one of two events occur: the final bell rings or his opponent collapses to the ground.
Savage as it looks, though, Hatton isn’t a mindless slugger. He throws punches from every conceivable angle, seemingly never out of position to execute a murderous blow. His attack to the body is among the best in the business (if you need proof, see his 4th round stoppage of Jose Luis Castillo). He commits to every single punch he throws. For Hatton, there’s no such thing as a lazy jab or set-up punches. He throws a punch like a lumberjack chopping down a giant redwood. His intention for each blow is to knock out his opponent.
And that’s the thing about Hatton. His attack is so furious, so continuous and so scattered, it renders foes bewildered as to how to defend against it. If opponents parry the body blows, Hatton goes for the head and vice versa. If opponents cover up, Hatton swings so that all hits are felt through the gloves or leaves their elbows, arms and shoulders battered. He is simply a master at creating and exploiting openings. (See here.)
If Mayweather was born to be a boxer, Hatton was born to be a fighter. Hatton’s style may not be as pretty, but it’s just as effective and certainly more painful.
The Match Up
Intriguing to say the least. To beat Mayweather, you have to smother him, fight up close with your head in his chest, as to neutralize his speed. Swarmers always give classical boxers tough fights, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better swarmer than Hatton. The Hitman will try to run at Mayweather all night, never letting the welterweight champion to rest easy for one second.
To beat Hatton, you must stay on the outside and never stop moving. Do not be lured into a brawl; it’s what Hatton wants. Mayweather will be extremely cautious throughout the fight. He’ll attempt to score quick points from the outside and tie-up on the inside. Mayweather will want to repeat this all night. He wants this fight to be in the center of the ring every moment of the fight, where his advantages in height, speed and boxing ability are maximized.
So, in the end, each fighter has the perfect style to beat the other.
I’ve thought about it for weeks, and I’m still split as to what will happen. My head says Mayweather in a fight he makes to be less than entertaining, but my gut tells me Hatton in another fight of the year candidate.
Still mulling it over…
Damn, this is hard…
…Oh, what the hell.
Hatton by late-round stoppage…while behind on points.