By Bob Canobbio
Floyd Mayweather, 37-0, 24 KO’s, attempting to win his fifth title in five different weight classes, an 8-5 favorite over Oscar De La Hoya, 38-4, 30 KO’s, an underdog for just the second time in his 42-fight career.
Mayweather, who’s won titles at 130 lbs, 135 lbs., 140 lbs. and 147 lbs., outlanded his last four opponents (Baldomir W 12, Judah W 12, Mitchell KO 6, Gatti KO 6) 537-177 in total punches. That’s an average of just five punches landed per round for Floyd’s unsuccessful foes! The average welterweight and junior middleweight lands 19 punches per round.
Floyd didn’t taste much leather and he didn’t waste it either. He averaged 39 punches thrown per round in those four fights, 18 less than the welterweight average. He landed 46%, 12% higher than the average 147-lber. Less is more is the message here. Exciting? No. A winning formula? Up to now, yes. Mayweather subscribes to the George Benton theory that goes: “win today, look good tomorrow.”
Of those 39 total punches thrown per round, only 14 were jabs- 10 less than the weight class average. He landed 38%, 13% higher than the weight class average. He also landed 51% of his power shots, 11% higher than the welterweight average.
Let’s take it a step further and look at Floyd’s stats from 18 of his title fights tracked by CompuBox, compared to the numbers put up by fellow defensive-minded superstars Roy Jones (18 title fights from ’93-‘02) and Pernell Whitaker (18 title fights from ’89-‘97).
Floyd averaged 45 total punches thrown per round, landing 46%. His 18 opponents landed 22% of their total punches. Using the CompuBox plus/minus system, Floyd came in at +24. That number was derived by subtracting the opponents connect pct. (22%) from Mayweather’s connect pct. (46%).
The in his prime “Mr. Jones” scored a +20. Like Floyd, he got off 45 total punches per round, landing 48%. His 17 opponents landed 28%, 6% higher than Floyd’s. Like Floyd, Jones averaged 14 jabs thrown per round, but only landed 22%.
Sweat Pea registered a +16. He was busier than Mayweather and Jones in those 18 title fights, averaging 62 total punches thrown per round, landing 44%. As a result of Pete’s busyness, opponents landed 28% of their total punches. Of Whitaker’s 62 total punches thrown per round, half were jabs, 42% landed.
Rather select company for the Pretty Boy - and better overall numbers too.
In 18 of De La Hoya’s title fights tracked by CompuBox, he averaged 54 total punches thrown per round, landing 44%. Opponents landed 29%, producing a +15 rating for Oscar. He averaged 24 jabs thrown per round, landing 40%. Opponents landed just 20% of their jabs, 5% less than the welterweight/jr. middleweight average. They did however land 39% of their power shots - about the weight class average. Does Oscar have just average defense against the power punch? (Note: CompuBox categorizes any non-jab as a power punch).
Shane Mosley, whose speed was the difference in both his wins over De La Hoya (but he’s not as quick or elusive or as accurate as Mayweather and many will argue he didn’t win the second fight), landed 50% of his power shots in their two fights. Mosley’s 284 punches landed vs. Oscar in their first fight are the most landed vs. Oscar in 31 of his fights tracked by CompuBox. Itching for the knockout against what he perceived to be the smaller man, Oscar averaged 60 punches thrown per round in that fight, hence the high number of connects by Mosley.
Oscar averaged 51 thrown per round in the rematch and still faded down the stretch. Look for a similar number thrown per round vs. Mayweather. Why? a) He doesn’t want to leave himself too available for Floyd counters and b) he’s just not going to “find” Floyd everytime he wants to throw.
Jose Luis Castillo gave Floyd all he could handle in their first fight (he actually outlanded Floyd 203-157 in total punches- the most punches landed vs. Floyd in 26 of his fights tracked by CompuBox) due to his brawling style. Castillo averaged 31 power punches thrown per round among his 42 total punches thrown per round. He landed 46% of his power shots, bolstered by a steady body attack. Is Oscar of the mindset at this point in time to risk eating Mayweather combos in an attempt to get inside and do damage of his own? As Marvin Hagler said late in his career: “it’s tough to get up at 5:00 a.m. to do roadwork when you’re wearing silk pajamas.” It’s safe to assume Oscar owns several sets of silkies. Mayweather probably does too, but he’s got more to prove than Oscar.
Freddie Roach is more offensive-minded than Floyd, Sr. Will Oscar buy into Freddie’s power-boxing philosophy and try to make it into a semi-street fight?
Zab Judah used his speed and lateral movement, coming from a southpaw stance to frustrate Floyd early in their fight. Oscar doesn’t possess Zab’s speed or movement but is a converted southpaw. Don’t look for Oscar to turn lefty vs. Floyd.
Another theory has Oscar attempting to use his advantages in height and size and keep the fight on the outside. He’s got a more effective jab than Mayweather, however their reaches are listed at an identical 72” and Mayweather’s got better lateral movement. That, plus an “outside” fight strategy for Oscar requires movement all night. What can he do differently at age 34 that he couldn’t do earlier in his career to stave off the late round fade?
There’s no denying Mayweather’s the best fighter on the planet today. He’s been the more active fighter as well. Oscar’s the naturally bigger man and has fought many Superfights. This is Floyd’s first trip to the really Big Show. Early in the fight, Oscar will try to establish his jab, back Mayweather into the ropes, muscle him and attempt land right hands, knowing Mayweather’s trained to avoid the left hook. The right hand could set up the homerun ball- the left hook.
Oscar should throw more punches per round than Floyd. Will his late round flurries be enough to wow the judges? It’s Oscar’s house and Vegas loves the underdog. Mayweather will have to win rounds convincingly. Will Floyd feel Oscar’s power and revert to full retreat mode? If he does, Oscar’s got a chance - a puncher’s chance, but Mayweather should win by unanimous decision.