When Trouble Looms: Floyd In Adversity

Day 9: As we are now inside of 10 days until the mega fight showdown between Oscar dela Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. we continue our deep look at the fighters. This current feature deals with the reality of Boxing. Granted, both Boxers have outstanding talents and have seldom seen adversity in the ring, however, styles make fights and sometimes even the best get tested. This installment of the countdown will take a look at Floyd’s not so greatest moments in the ring and how he responded when under attack. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Jose Luis Castillo (04/20/02) This was a fight for Mayweather where he stepped in the ring with a man who was considerably larger and knew well going in that he was gonna be in for a tough night. His plan was to stick with the things that got him where he was. Quick hands, great footwork, and solid defense. One thing that Floyd did to offset the larger fighter, lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo, was attack from the opening bell. Within the first couple minutes of the fight Mayweather had the Champs nose bleeding as he landed two swift, but firm hooks to the head of Castillo. The assault would continue as Mayweather pressed the action and refused to letup. Mayweather basically controlled the scorecard with his speed and elusiveness for the first half of the fight but by the midway point, (rd’s 5 and 6), Castillo started to find his range and the effects of the body shots were starting to take a toll on Mayweather. One key point in the late rounds saw Mayweather land a solid uppercut that would have floored most other fighters but the battle tested Champion followed Mayweather’s effort with a series of powershots ‘grouped’ around Mayweather’s lower body. Castillo would finish the fight by basically walking thru everything Mayweather threw and landing his own bombs to appease the crowd. Although Mayweather enjoyed an early score card lead, things at the end of the fight looked awfully shaky and it appeared that the undefeated era of Floyd Mayweather had come to an end. When the scores were read to the fans (116-111, 115-111, 115-111), sheer speculation in the packed house was that Castillo would get the nod, however Floyds hand was raised as the new Champion. Despite the fact that Castillo landed the better shots down the stretch, it was Mayweather who landed the most and even after getting a point deducted for an unintentional elbow, his skill level appeared to be too much for the Champion as on this night he would take the crown. From a strategy standpoint, Floyd appeared to do the right thing by coming out and taking it to the bigger Champ early. He was able to effectively get in the head of the Champ by landing flush shots and creating space before he could return fire. This plan nearly backfired as he ended up wearing down from all the punishment by the end of the night but by then, his lead was so distant that it was too late. The two would go on and have a rematch shortly after this contest and Floyd Mayweather dominated from start to finish. This was a match up where Floyd Mayweather Jr. was in against a much bigger fighter who had much greater experience with a great compliment of skills to match but in the end it was Floyd who got the nod. Controversial as it was to many, two things could be attributed to the final decision. Floyd’s confidence which allowed him to approach a bigger more experienced fighter like he was just ‘another joe’, and his skill level which helped him amass a large enough lead to where he wasn’t forced to try to steal a late victory from the jaws of defeat. On May 5th, Floyd will face the same challenge. Only this time it will be against a fighter who’s not only bigger, but is one of the few with an arsenal nearly as deep as his. It should be an interesting night but as we know there’s only one way to know who’s skill level and heart will take the other man apart. Until then, “THE WORLD AWAITS”. Tomorrow’s countdown takes us to day #8 as we take a look at a very strong possibility in the form of a question. Floyd’s ability is nearly second to none, but on the night of May 5th, for the first time he’ll share the same ‘airspace’ as a guy who’s on his level, if not a notch above to some. For years he’s been to swift for most and has barely been scratched in combat, thus the given nickname ‘Pretty Boy’. Therefore we today we pose the question and tomorrow we review the findings in: ‘Scarface’: Can The “Pretty Boy” Walk Away Unblemished? This piece takes a look at the realistic possibility of Floyd leaving the ring for the first time with an “L” and perhaps the bruised face that all boxers have received, yet somehow Floyd has so greatly eluded.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.