Sugar Shane Mosley – The Strategy to fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
By Ty Bickel (May 1, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
“Sugar” Shane Mosley faces off against Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. May 1st, 2010, in the most anticipated fight of the year thus far. At 38 years of age, Shane Mosley is the decided underdog in the megafight. Undeterred, he is convinced he will rise to the occasion to emerge victorious. He faces the one of the best pure boxers of this generation, and perhaps the slickest, and the most elusive fighter he has ever fought in Floyd Mayweather, Jr. This fight is more than one of determination, motivation, conditioning and will. For “Sugar” to defeat the self-styled “Money,” he will need more than the fists and heart, but the mind to win. He will
need superior smarts and strategy to overcome his formidable foe. More than just relying on a lucky punch or brute force to win, “Sugar” Shane needs a systematic plan to break down his opponent into submission.

Basic Overview:
First, it is important to understand the boxer that is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It is important to “know thy enemy.” What is known (or conjectured) about Floyd Mayweather “the man” is irrelevant. In terms of whom he really is – the question of “what is real?” and “what is ‘smoke and mirrors’” is merely mind games and a red herring. It is only important to focus on Floyd Mayweather, “the boxer.”

To begin, Floyd Mayweather is a master boxing technician, especially as pertaining to defense. Often defensive wizards err on the side of caution, and do not rely so much on power as on finesse. Mayweather is a case in point. He is highly skilled at nullifying his opponent’s offense and using his aggression against him.

Now, to clarify, though he is very technically skilled as a boxer, he is not a traditional fighter, as he does not employ the traditional, orthodox boxing stance or move like a traditional boxer. He employs the Philly Shell defense (stance), along with many of his contemporaries. While the orthodox stance has both guards up, the Philly Shell has only the right guard up, while the left arm is draped across the midsection (along the belt line), to guard against body shots, and specifically the liver shot with the left glove. To compensate for the apparent vulnerability of the left side of the head, the left shoulder is shrugged (rolled) to guard the jaw and deflect oncoming blows, along with tucking the chin, and leaning back as the punch or punches are thrown. The punches are rolled by turning and twisting the torso from side to side away from the direction of the punches being thrown to lessen the force of the blows.

Often, pugilists that are aptly and generously endowed with speed, and who would like to maximize their quickness use this stance. One of the advantages of this stance is increased utilization of upper body mobility. Because the Philly Shell affords better balance (with only one guard up as opposed to two), and allows more advanced defensive maneuvers (such as ducking by bending at the waist) to be executed with greater ease and quickness. The left arm and guard is a great shield for belt line body blows and especially left hook liver shots, while the higher right guard is a better deterrent and safeguard against left hooks to the head than the orthodox stance. Offensively, because of the low position of the left hand, jabs, though needing to travel a further distance than with a traditional guard, have a stronger torque and whip action, and a resulting natural twisting of the hips for a snappier, stiffer jab. Also, again because of the position of the left hand, the lead left hook – especially a leaping left hook – becomes a formidable asset. It is sometimes difficult for opponents to see this punch coming, as it begins out of range, and it has more momentum than a regular left hook. Not coincidently, the jab and the leaping left hook are two of Floyd Mayweather’s best and primary weapons, as further expounded upon below.

However, this stance can be risky, as using the Philly Shell calls for quick reflexes. The head is more vulnerable to straight right hands because of the low guard on the left side, and failure to raise the shoulder in time to deflect the punch is one obvious inherent risk factor. Unlike the traditional guard, there is no glove naturally safeguarding the face. Also, when blocking, the Philly shell often confines the left hand, especially in countering opportunities (Floyd’s weapon of choice in countering is most often the right hand – more on this below), making it awkward to fire back without resetting. More on the Philly Shell will be elaborated in the points below.

Basic Overview: Now to understand what makes Mayweather successful is to realize the source of his boxing acumen – it is because he understands and has mastered the traditional boxer and his style. He can adapt because not only is he an exceptional athlete, but he has an instilled insight into how the traditional boxer fights, and wired into his brain as reflexes. Fighters fall into patterns (and Floyd is no exception). It is the same repetitive patterns that he trains to defend and attack. Such things as conventional combinations (1-2-3 – the jab, straight right, left hook combination), conventional thinking, and fighting by the book are woven into the fabric of his thinking and training methods (defensive drills such as jab, parry – straight right – shoulder roll – left hook, block, overhand right, duck) to know how to defeat. Floyd can predict and feel what his opponent will do (he has seen it countless times before and has trained for it thousands and thousands of times), and along with his speed and reflexes, it allows him to anticipate his opponent’s moves, and react with small adjustments when necessary. The more un-thinking and the more mechanical his opponent, the more fundamental and basic the approach, the more ease and success Mayweather will have. (The reason he would have problems against Manny Pacquiao is not only because of his speed, power and punch volume, but because of his unorthodoxy. Because of his southpaw stance and punches being thrown from different angles, it would be much more difficult to defend combinations of punches unscathed, and not be physically, if not mentally overwhelmed. But this is a subject for another article.) Along with the specific items below, a large part of the solution needs to be (at least strategically), is to mix up the speed, angles, targets and types of punches, to make Mayweather not trust in his deeply ingrained instincts and reflexes – to make him think, to make him doubt, instead of react, when he doesn’t have the time and can’t afford to think (i.e. trapped against the ropes, or in the midst of defending a combination), when he needs to think and focus on his own plan.

Here is a basic list of points of strategy to aid Shane in his pursuit of extending his legacy of greatness.

Offensive Strategies:
Jab (head and body)
Jabs to the head: One inherent weakness of the Philly Shell is the jab – especially a good, stiff jab. As mentioned above, the left forearm and hand is draped across the lower abdomen to protect against shots to the belly button and the liver shot, with the right hand glued to the right side of the jaw to protect against left hooks. The primary defense of the jab is a parry by the right hand (accompanied by a leaning of the head back, or slipping to the right). This works fine with a flicking, or probing jab, but is less effective against a real good, stiff, hurtful jab, used more as a primary weapon (a la Ike Quartey), instead of just as a distraction or range finder to set up bigger shots. In short, the Philly Shell is not as effective at defending jabs that are aimed to go through the target, and not just at the target, because it is ineffective in blocking jabs. If Mosley is consistently effective with his jab, this would make Mayweather more likely to want to switch to the more conventional, traditional stance to block the jab, where he is less comfortable, and thus less effective. Also, because of the tucked chin and left jaw under the lead shoulder (especially when executing the shoulder roll) with the Philly Shell, a good target instead would be the high on the face of Mayweather – specifically the nose (i.e. the bridge) and the eyes of Mayweather. Either eye would be a good target, but because of the angle of the jab to the left eye, there may be a better probability to cut the left eye with a jab across the face, or otherwise obscure the vision with perhaps a scrape of the glove across the face. Especially since Shane Mosley has the greater height and reach, he must use the jab to his advantage if he hopes to win. However, Mosley still needs to be discriminating when throwing the jab, and not mindlessly or mechanically, so as not to risk getting countered with sharp, sneaky right hands.

Jabs to the body: Another inherent weakness of the Philly Shell is protecting the chest (i.e. the heart) and upper abdomen (i.e. the solar plexus). These areas should be targeted by the jab to the body, as well other body shots. (The navel and other shots along the belt line are good targets for the orthodox stance, but not the Philly Shell). The jab to the chest would either be just absorbed, or defended by covering up with the right hand. (I, myself, believe that the solar plexus and heart, is a vastly underrated target – especially if caught by surprise and not bracing for the shot by flexing the abdominal muscles. But I digress). The jab to the solar plexus would be defended most likely by a parry by the right hand or covering up with the right hand. Therefore, it would be effective alternate this jab to the solar plexus with the jab to the head and the same hand is used for its defense. A Mayweather guess in the wrong direction could result in a flush shot for Mosley.

Left/Right Uppercuts (head and body – solar plexus)
Left/Right uppercut to the head: As mentioned above, one advantage of the Philly Shell is ease of head movement, as it offers better balance (with one hand up for guard, and one hand down) when rolling punches (i.e. the shoulder roll), slipping, leaning, and ducking punches bending sideways from the waist. Floyd takes advantage of this as he is an expert in these defensive maneuvers. Ducking from the waist is effective against big shots – haymakers/ wide and/or looping shots (i.e. the overhand rights and “can-opener” left hooks). As Floyd tends to duck this way when he feels a big shot like this coming, Shane should feint either the overhand right (after a jab) and fire a right uppercut, or feint a left look (preferably after a right cross) and throw a left uppercut instead and hopefully, Floyd will duck right into one (a la Vic Darchinian catching Christian Mijares in this manner for the KO). To be effective, Shane should set up these uppercuts behind a stiff jab or following a right hand (if thrown after a jab, or after feinting a jab, left uppercuts should be thrown from the same position, or with a quick, small slide step forward. If thrown after a right cross, it should flow within the combination – 1-2-5. Right uppercuts should be as is or with a small step to the left, depending, of course, on the distance and angle relative to Mayweather). Strategically, earlier in the fight, Shane should throw a couple of big haymakers (as if trying to land one big knockout shot), but not so much expecting them to land, but to set up these uppercuts. As it is a strength of the Philly Shell defense (and Floyd Mayweather’s) in guarding against these big, one at a time shots, this ploy would also be useful in the mental game by luring Mayweather into a false sense of comfort and security, as he can dodge one big shot a time all night. Then, deceiving Floyd into his strategy is about trying to land one big shot by throwing these shots early in the fight; Shane should switch to short shorts in rapid combination for the reminder of the bout, while occasionally throwing an overhand right if he sees the opening.

Left/Right uppercut to the body: One advantage of the Philly Shell is in defending a shot right the belt line and the liver shot automatically as per form. To combat against this, Shane should throw uppercuts to the solar plexus and the chest (as mentioned before with the jab to the body) as the Philly Shell inherently leaves these openings more open. Then as the Floyd adjusts to block these shots, this should open up liver shots with left hooks to the body or perhaps hooks to the head, depending on how he adjusts to block or parry the shots. Mosley should alternate these shots (uppercuts and hooks, to the head and body) to keep Floyd guessing and hopefully catch him flush, break him down and hurt him.

Right cross/overhead right (head and body)
Right cross/overhead right to the head: One disadvantage of the Philly Shell is the vulnerability of the lead side of the head, especially high on the head (i.e. the left temple for Floyd Mayweather). The shoulder roll protects the lead jaw and chin when rolled and tucked, but the temple is relatively open. Shane should take advantage of this by throwing a short, straight right hand to the temple whenever in range. Even if Mayweather rolls the shoulder in time, Mosley may still catch Floyd on the temple, as opposed to the jaw or chin. Unless he has Mayweather hurt (or is trying to time Mayweather when he opens up with a punch of his own), I would advise against even aiming for the jaw or chin of Mayweather at all. It’s important for Mosley not to load up or loop this short right cross, but keep in straight and short. If Shane could catch Floyd flush with this short shot and hurt him (especially if Floyd doesn’t see the shot coming), only then should he follow up with heavier, looping type shots in really trying to connect (except occasionally as mentioned before to try to keep Mayweather off balance).

A good way to time Mayweather with the right cross would either to feint an overhand right (or another big shot) to get him to commit to ducking by bending at the waist, and then try to tag him in mid-duck on the temple. It is important element of strategy for Shane to get Mayweather to be leery of ducking like this. It is better for Mosley that Mayweather block shots rather than avoid them altogether. That way, Mosley expends less energy, and Mosley has a better chance of landing a telling blow either by setting traps or in combination. Otherwise, Shane will find himself swinging and missing, frustrated and out of position as Mayweather controls range and dances away all night. Another strategy to time Mayweather is when he looks to hold. Sometimes when his opponent rushes and looks to land the big shot, he comes in aggressively with a series of big shots (especially early in the fight), and reacting to this, Mayweather begins to duck repeatedly as he senses the shots coming. And then, as he finds an opening, he comes up out of ducking, and reaches out to hold his opponent and stop the action to reset and get out of danger. Shane can take advantage to Mayweather trying to hold this way, by sensing when he is trying to pull this maneuver, and feinting a shot, then taking half a step back as Mayweather reaches out (coming up out from a duck), and tag him right on the temple.

Also, since Shane is a bit taller than Floyd, Shane could try throwing an overhand right hand (at close range against the ropes) aimed at the temple, but up close and standing up taller than normal, and with a downward trajectory, as Floyd would like roll the shoulder and lead back as a reflex. This may also catch Mayweather flush, and catch him off balance as he is leaning back. But Shane most likely will not catch Floyd with one big, haymaker type shot, and should in no wise rely on this, or try this too often, as it may lead to discouragement and fatigue.

Perhaps though, Shane might try catching Floyd with a Haymaker to the temple, if it followed a jab to the body – but maybe only once or twice throughout the fight. Juan Manual Marquez had success with this traditional overhead right in their fight last fall. However, he was countered with left hook to the jaw as a consequence, and Floyd did manage to roll with the shot without getting hurt even though he was caught. But this may be a different story if this shot was from Shane Mosley, who is stronger and longer.

Another shot that may be effective against Floyd Mayweather is the short, tight, but wide, right cross (like a hook) behind the left ear, at very close range. A good, clean shot may hurt, and perhaps drop Mayweather (a la Jameel McCline dropping Chris Byrd), or perhaps cause him to have wobbly legs as a shot behind the ear (or on top of the head) is an equilibrium shot. The best way to set this shot up would be in close behind a jab (even just a flicking jab to the chest or head), or pitty-pat shots inside to stand up Mayweather. If Floyd puts on the earmuffs at close range, this shot would be available around the guard. If he tries to roll the shoulder in close with the Philly Shell defense, the area would still be vulnerable. If Floyd is effective in ducking this shot by bending at the waist, then Shane should immediately follow-up with a left uppercut to the head (as mentioned above), and if possible, a right uppercut following. There would be a better chance of catching Floyd with this shot if he is trapped against the ropes or in the corner, and also, if previously made wary of ducking due to setting traps and uppercuts to the head as described above.

For the right cross to the body, an awesome body shot for Mosley to employ any time he gets a chance is a hard, straight right hand to the solar plexus or the heart – forcefully, as if he is trying to knock the wind out of Mayweather, or give him cardiac arrest. As mentioned several times before, these areas are wide open in the Philly Shell defense. A right hook to the ribs of Mayweather behind his left elbow and would also open (especially when he rolls the shoulder). A good scenario would be if Mosley is backing Mayweather to the ropes, and throw one of these body shots to follow-up a high, maybe even a flicking jab to just as a distraction, and really lay into it (like Ryu in Streetfigher) throwing a fireball), and really rip it to the body of Mayweather. In the immortal words of Ash from movie, Army of Darkness – “That’s gotta hurt!”

Left hook (head and body)
As mentioned earlier, left hooks (both to the head and body) need to be set up by left uppercuts (and vise versa), as he is expecting them from the start. As Floyd adjusts to defend against the uppercuts, this would leave him more vulnerable to the more conventional left hook to the head and body (as the right hand is used to block both the uppercuts and the left hook). So if and when Floyd adjusts, Shane should adjust by mixing up the uppercuts with the left hooks, both to the head and body to again keep Floyd guessing. Of course, it would be optimal if as Shane throws the different shots, to see the openings available and react accordingly. A grave error would be to become discouraged because shots are not getting through, and to just stand there and think not knowing what to do. Floyd would at this point throw lead right hands to the head to potshot Mosley, then hold, or slide out of the way and reset. So Mosley needs to keep throwing shots in combination even if he is missing or they are being blocked by forearms and gloves, if just to keep Mayweather turtled up in his shell, and keep him from firing his own shots, so at least Shane could rack up the points.

A note about the left hook: To further elaborate, because of Floyd’s defensive posture, Shane would be wise not to throw left hooks mechanically to the head, as Mayweather usually has his right guard up next to his cheek the majority of the time as per the Philly Shell. As mentioned before, this punch needs to be alternated with the left uppercut upstairs. Moreover, to be effective, Shane may want to experiment with a hybrid left jab/straight left/left hook. When Mosley hurt Margarito with a left hook, it was a pretty straight shot, almost like a jab. But the way he was positioned, it was as if Mosley threw the punch like a straight right hand, meaning like a straight left from a southpaw. In other words, throwing the classic 3-punch (1-2-3) combination (jab, straight right, left hook), if you throw a left jab after a right hand, instead of a left hook, you can fire it off with the power of a straight right because of the natural position of your body after throwing the right hand. Mayweather may be susceptible to this punch as the next punch is in the classic punch sequence is normally a left hook (which he would be expecting). With the Philly Shell, the way you would defend against this combo would be to parry the jab with the right glove, roll the shoulder to block the straight right, turn back to roll and block the incoming left hook with the right glove against the cheek. So instead of going up to Mayweather (like De La Hoya doing an impression of “rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots” on just his side), squaring up and mechanically throwing a combination of left and straight punches in rapid succession (though he was mildly successful at times), Shane should throw a 1-2 (jab, straight right), then a -1 again like a straight left. Or even any time while throwing a combination, after a right hand, end with this hybrid punch – aiming straight for the nose or mouth of Mayweather. Chances are Floyd will not expect this punch, and may be caught flush.

Floyd Mayweather’s Basic Strategy:
In the center of the ring, Floyd Mayweather is the most effective and dominant. Here he can use his elusive defensive prowess, his expert, quick footwork, and his blistering hand speed to his greatest advantage. It’s no secret what Floyd wants to do: Dictate the pace of the fight, control range, pick his spots, get off then move away and reset (or hold and reset), counterpunch to keep his opponent honest, stay off the ropes, not get hit, and thus rack up the points and win a decision, or if the opportunity presents itself (and is safe), get the knockout. He wants to fight a cautious fight, taking as little risk as possible and still dominate and win. Unless he has an overmatched opponent (so he can safely open up and let his hands go more), this is how he often fights, unless he can be forced into a firefight.

Defensive/Countering Strategies:
Jab (head and body)
Floyd wants to keep the fight in the center of the ring as he fires jabs to the body and head, and then moves out of range. His left hand is his primary weapon, especially early in the fight. This is what he likes to do the first round of two to feel out his opponent. He has a very good jab – a lunge jab. I believe it is his favorite weapon – effective, yet safe. This is a lightning fast, stinging jab as it is accurate and thrown from the hip with a snap and weight behind it. It is a jab that he fires with a lunging side-step, turning his body perpendicular to his opponent as he snaps it off. Like a cobra, he quickly recoils back and slides back out of range after he throws the shot, circling and maneuvering around the ring to reset and either feint or fire again (to both body and head). He continues to repeat this pattern, especially in the earlier going. Shane should anticipate this pattern.

To defend the jab to the head, Shane either a hold his guard up a little higher than normal to more easily and quickly put on the earmuffs momentarily to block it, or bring the right glove to his jaw and slip to the right. Slipping to the left is unnecessary, as Floyd doesn’t often throw the straight right after the jab in this manner.

To counter this jab to the head, Shane should anticipate for when the jab is coming and counter by timing his own jab to the head. A riskier counter would be to time the jab by ducking and throwing an overhand right over the top of Mayweather’s jab. But if Mosley guesses wrong (or tricked by a feint), he might be countered himself by a straight right, or right uppercut to the head if he falls in. But if Mosley were to guess and throw big shots, he would be better advised to do it in the first few rounds, when Floyd is more risk-adverse, and more reluctant to open up (and counter) with a bigger stronger opponent.
To defend against the jab to the body, Shane should either simply bend slightly over and cover up, or take a half step back and parry the jab with either hand.

To good counter to this jab to the body would be a right hand to the temple. Either anticipate the shot to time the jab with a right cross (a split second before Floyd throws it or as he is throwing it) or step forward and absorb/block/parry the jab with the left hand and fire off the straight right immediately.

If Shane develops a pattern of blocking Floyd’s shots rather than trying to counter them, Mayweather may look to throw combinations when Mosley covers up. Or vise versa, if Shane develops a pattern of trying to counter Floyd’s shots rather than blocking and covering up, Mayweather look to pot shot – one or two shots at a time, and then either dance away or hold.

Left hooks (head)
Another favorite weapon of Floyd Mayweather is the leaping left hook to the head (a la Floyd Patterson). Floyd mixes up this shot with the jab to keep his opponent off balance. It is a deceptively strong shot, especially when caught flush. He caught Juan Manual Marquez with this shot and knocked him down. He dropped the late Diego Corrales several times with this shot in their encounter. Like his jab, this punch is lightning fast, fired from the hip, lunching forward when just out of range. It is effective because he begins his punch out of range, quickly coming into range with the leap forward. After throwing this punch, and depending on his position and the opportunity, often Mayweather will elect either slide back or push his opponent to move to back himself or to the side out of range, and return to guard and reset – or follow up with a straight right hand and reset (or move and reset).

To defend this left look to the head, Shane first realize that Floyd’s strategy will be alternate this punch with the jab, as the old maxim goes, “turn jab into a hook” – meaning keep throwing the jab until your opponent expects the jab, and then throw the hook to catch them off guard with an unexpected punch. The safest way to defend this shot is by covering up with earmuffs. But this will encourage Floyd to throw the straight right hand behind it, as he continued to do against De La Hoya, to rack up the points. Shane can also duck and slide under the punch, stepping to his right, but because of the Floyd’s quickness in getting off this shot, it may be difficult to do this, and continue doing this throughout the fight. My advice would be for Shane to figuratively “glue” this right glove to this cheek as he stalks Mayweather and look to roll and counter in anticipation of this punch. In the later rounds, if Shane becomes desperate to score and opens up too much when coming in (as with his fight against Miguel Cotto), Floyd may look to counter with the left hook (though he prefers to counter with the straight right). For example, if Shane becomes too aggressive coming in, Floyd will be easily able to tag him cleanly with a “check hook” (i.e. the first knockdown of Ricky Hatton), cupping Shane behind the head simultaneously with the shot, and then spinning and pivoting away. Though I seriously doubt Mayweather could hurt Mosley like he did Hatton.

Shane has three counter options for this punch. The safest option would be to keep pumping the jab in the face of Mayweather, and perhaps try to time the jab to stop the hook. The 2nd and riskiest option is to drop down and time an overhand right as he leaps in (i.e. Fedor Emelianenko’s knockout Brett Rogers). But Floyd may prove to be too quick for Mosley to have much success in attempting to do this. The third option is to anticipate the punch by taking a small step back with the right foot to pivot and circle slightly left as Floyd begins his leap. This would lessen the effect of the blow as the target (Shane’s head) becomes a moving target. Then, blocking the shot with the right glove against his cheek, Shane should immediately/simultaneously fire off a left uppercut to the head of Mayweather – then maybe a right cross, or a combination of punches to follow. A left hook counter, though perhaps viable, may be blocked as Floyd is very defensively responsible even when he is on the offense. He most likely will have his own right glove plastered to the side of his face as he leaps in. The left uppercut would be a better option or even a stiff, straight left jab. There will more likely be an opening for those punches than the left hook.

Right cross (lead and counter)
Floyd loves to use the straight right hand to pot shot his opponents. After warming up with jabs and leaping left hooks, he starts shooting the lead right hand. When he leads with the right hand, first he leans forward with the head and upper body a split second before he throws the punch. This gives him extra reach which is even longer than his jab. He often signals this punch is coming by momentarily standing stationary in front of his opponents, slightly forward on the balls of the his feet. When he showboats, he also often drops his hands to his side (as with Marquez). He throws this shot one at a time, and then depending of whether it lands and/or his relative position, either he falls in and holds, or dances away and resets.

Floyd will also use the right hand to counter, as it is the weapon of choice to counter for the Philly shell defense. In the center of the ring, he will often anticipate his opponent coming in, take a half step back and try to time him with a straight right upstairs. Or also, while turtled up in the Philly shell – slipping, blocking, and ducking punches while his opponent is firing off combinations, Mayweather will also shoot a straight right in between shots if he can do so safely (like in the fight with De La Hoya).

To defend against the lead right hand, Mosley should keep the left guard (if not both gloves) up high when he senses it coming. Or to roll with the punch, Shane should turn to right with the left glove blocking his temple, cheek and ear, with his forearm guarding his jaw and chin. Another way to block is to put on the earmuffs and duck down as if blocking a body shot. Because of his brittle hands, Floyd may hit the top of Shane’s head with a shot and injure his hand, and give Shane an advantage. If Shane is able to decipher Mayweather’s rhythm, probably a better solution would be to slip to the left (toward the punch), and then pivot away to the left, leaving Floyd out of position after the punch. And even better scenario is if Mosley would take a side-step to the right and pivot to the right as Mayweather leads with the straight right. This would leave Mayweather momentarily out of position and make it easier for Mosley to counter. And, as with the other punches, Shane should look to keep pumping the jab in Floyd’s face. In regards to the lead right hand, this would make Mayweather needs to avoid the jab, and perhaps reset before throwing the punch. But Shane must be alert as Floyd could quickly turn the lead right hand into a counter right hand over the jab.

To counter against the lead right hand, Mosley could try timing a left hook, but this is unadvisable since oftentimes a straight right beats a counter left hook. If opportune, Shane should counter with a straight right of his own or a right uppercut if he sees an opening, after blocking or slipping the shot. However, if Floyd senses that Shane is trying to be aggressive with counter shots, Floyd will most likely fall in and hold after throwing the right hand. Mosley should then be ready to use roughhouse tactics when Floyd begins to hold often (see below).

To avoid being countered by Floyd’s straight right hand, Shane should stay calm and remember to be defensively responsible when stalking Mayweather. Shane needs to cut off the ring, and not follow him around the ring. Shane should not make the same mistake that he did when fighting Cotto, following him around the ring and getting caught with counter shots. Mosley needs to not jump in, but carefully and methodically attack, unloading heavy artillery behind the jab, and a high guard. Since a high guard will invite body shots (most likely jabs and straight rights to the body), Mosley needs to be ready to block and counter these shots, which will fatigue Mayweather and discourage him to unload his shots in fear of being countered.

Other Strategies:
In the trenches: Shane needs to constantly pressure Floyd against the ropes and into the corner by quickly side-stepping to mirror Mayweather’s movement around the ring. Mosley should mix up feints to freeze Mayweather defensively (especially if he is in retreat mode), or to make him commit defensively prematurely and get himself out of position. Shane needs to keep pumping the jab and not get discouraged if the jab doesn’t land at a high rate. But if Floyd continuously tries to counter the jab, Shane needs to mix up feints with the jab. If Floyd tries to counter the feint, Shane needs to counter the counters. Shane needs to have a high punch output to keep the pressure on Floyd. When Floyd attempts to escape by sliding along the ropes, he often holds his guard up high as he does so. This is a good opportunity for Mosley to quickly slide step along with him, cut him off and strafe him with body shots, especially left and right hooks – in the direction Floyd is trying to escape. This will stall his escape, and keep him trapped longer against the ropes, and perhaps in the corner, where Shane can rack up the points and perhaps land a telling blow.

Mosley still needs to be careful defensively fighting as if a good clean shot from Floyd, because it very well may, even with Mosley excellent chin. Floyd Mayweather’s power is deceptive, and he is still able to knock guys out, as he is a very accurate puncher. If discouraged by Mayweather’s superior speed, Mosley should remember that timing is more important than speed, and that one punch can change the course of a fight. A short, well-timed shot that Floyd doesn’t see would be more effective than a wild, looping shot that he does see coming. These shots will most likely be easily blocked or avoided altogether.

Note on holding: Whenever Floyd tries to hold, Shane should duck down and continue to rip shots to the body until the ref separates the boxers. Shane should remember not to get too close and make it easy for Floyd to hold. Mosley also needs to keep in mind that when he misses with big shots, this makes it easier for Floyd to spin away and reset in the center of the ring. Shane should be careful not too be too aggressive in lunging in after Mayweather. Floyd will duck and a collision and clinch will ensue. Mosley should rough up Mayweather whenever possible, especially when they are in the clinch, as Shane is the stronger man. Whenever Floyd holds, Shane should constantly wrestle him and push him back towards the ropes (as if to push him out of the ring over the ropes), and even push him to the ground if Floyd begins holding excessively. Shane should also initiate some holding himself, as to maul Floyd against the ropes, even as far as getting low and shoving the top of his head into Mayweather face.

Uppercuts to the head would be effective on the inside when Mayweather holds. Holding is more effective in stopping the action when Floyd has his arms on the inside of Mosley’s arms when Mosley comes inside. This would occur more often when Mosley rushes in throwing wide shots. Floyd often holds his ground, then ducks into the oncoming opponent and then grabs the opponent, as wide shots are being loaded up or firing. With arms flailing while being held, the only recourse then would be to wrestle and perhaps slap some shots to the kidneys of Mayweather until the referee breaks up the combatants. One way to counteract this holding is to not throw these haymakers too often – especially not rushing in and loading them up, one at a time, and telegraphing them. Instead, Shane should keep his elbows tucked inside of Floyd’s, when he anticipates his attempts to hold. Then if Mayweather holds him around his arms and around his back (instead of inside his arms, and around Shane’s waist), Shane would be free to maneuver, leaning forward with his head against Mayweather, and able to fire uppercuts, right and left (depending of each fighter’s relative position to the other), to the head and body.

Getting nasty: On the inside, if Floyd aggressively tries to hold Shane close, Mayweather may get hit with head butts from below when Mosley thrusts his head up to throw the uppercuts to the head. If Mayweather pushes Shane’s head down with his forearm or attempts to put him in a headlock, Shane should respond with uppercuts aimed at the navel, which should “accidentally” hit Floyd painfully square in the cup. This should motivate Floyd to not do that.

Closing thoughts: These are just a few observations and suggestions from a fan’s point of view. As with most things, the strategies I have mentioned are easier said than done. Undoubtedly, Nazim Richardson will have an excellent strategy and fight plan for Shane Mosley, and hopefully, it will be a great fight and a modern classic. Who knows what will happen. How will everything play out? Will Mosley be too big, too strong, and too crafty? Will Mayweather be too fast, too elusive, too talented? Will it be a one-sided domination or will it be a back and forth battle for the ages? Will this be Mayweather’s 1st loss and a revelation of his vulnerability or a cementing of his claim to greatness? Will Mosley continue to defy the odds and father time? These questions and those like them are the reason that fights are fought in the ring and not on paper. There is only one way to find out.

Question, comments, send to TY at

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