Floyd Mayweather’s defense has been practically impenetrable. It’s hard to tell if he can take a series of power blows because he hardly ever allows many to connect. His ability to roll with punches and his patience frustrate opponents, making them open themselves up to punches. “The left hook is the punch that can knock you out because you don’t see it coming,” Mayweather said. “I keep my right hand by my cheek to catch the hook. But I don’t try to catch the jab.”
Mayweather lands 41 percent of his punches, which is tops in boxing. Significantly, he scores as a counterpuncher, meaning he swings as his opponent swings. His balance is the key. One of the differences between a good fighter and a consistent champion is to maintain balance at all times, so as to land sharp punches and to not be felled by weak ones. Mayweather, while he does not possess the power of Manny Pacquiao, delivers clean blows at a high landing rate — perfect for a fight that could go the distance.
Both men are veterans of the fight game, but Mayweather uses the entire ring to his advantage. When he’s in a corner taking blows, it’s because he wants to be there — and has a plan of attack from that position. While Pacquiao will be the aggressor, it does not mean he will be dictating the fight. Mayweather’s guile and understanding of angles and how to use the space and the ropes are all advantages that will allow him to get off on Pacquiao and accumulate points.
Sugar Ray Leonard pointed out this week that “nine of 10” boxers who are knocked out cold, as Pacquiao was against Juan Manuel Márquez, “are never the same.” See: Meldrick Taylor and Roy Jones Jr., for two classic examples. Pacquiao has fought and won twice since then, but he was not hit with a clean shot to test his staying power. Mayweather does not have one-punch knockout power, but he can land effective punches in succession that could have a cumulative effect. Leonard said to The Guardian that he expects Mayweather to knock down Pacquiao. “There could be dominance, mostly by Mayweather,” Leonard predicted. As for Mayweather’s chin, Pacquiao will hardly hit it with a direct shot.
In other sports, like football and basketball, the expression is that “speed kills.” Same in boxing. For all of Mike Tyson’s power, it was his speed punches that allowed him to do so much damage. Mayweather’s hand speed will produce more effective blows, and his foot speed will allow him to elude Pacquiao’s predictable onslaught and set up opportunities to level blows in rapid-fire succession on Pacquiao’s head.