By Jason KeidelMan Fatally Shot In Grand Boulevard
What does it take to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr?
Since he hasn’t lost as a pro, any answer is purely speculative. When I spoke with Al Bernstein, he wasn’t sure if Mayweather would have survived the 1990s undefeated, and was quite sure he would not have weathered the ’80s with a pristine record.
But we can’t control when we’re born, or the epoch over which our career arcs. For this era, Mayweather is professionally flawless. And he’s about to enter the ring on September 12 against a flawed fighter – Andre Berto, who has lost half of his last six fights.
Since the key to boxing, and particularly a boxing genius like Mayweather, is to hit and not get hit, we can look at some of the metrics, according to CompuBox.
In his hyperbolic bout with Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao landed just 81 punches over 12 rounds. The normally tornadic and accurate Filipino landed 9 percent of his jabs. Really. That would be 18 total over 36 total minutes of boxing.
Over Mayweather’s career, he routinely limits his foes to less than a 25 percent connect rate, which takes twin-tolls on the enemy. The first is physical. It hurts and fatigues the fighter to swing and miss so often. It also infuses the fighter with endless doubt. And confidence matters as much as tactics.
Let’s look at two common opponents, both of whom Mayweather beat yet beat Berto – Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Temperatures In The 70s Return
During his fight with Mayweather, Robert Guerrero landed 19 percent of his total punches – 113 out of 581 thrown – including 11 percent of his jabs, and 28 percent of his power punches.
Whereas Guerrero landed 35 percent of his punches against Andre Berto, including, 20 percent of his jabs and 38 percent of his power punches. Guerrero landed more than double the shots on Berto (258) than he did on Mayweather.
Victor Ortiz scored on 40 percent of his punches against Berto, including a staggering 47 percent of his power shots. His 266 power punches connected is more than Guerrero landed in total.
Yet Ortiz connected on just 18 percent of his shots thrown at Mayweather, which includes 22 percent of his power punches and zero – zero! – jabs over four rounds.
If Berto landed just 14 percent of his jabs against Guerrero, how would he land any against a boxing shadow like Mayweather?
It will take prayer and luck to land punches, to hurt Mayweather, and an act of God to beat Mayweather. Boxing is an ardently solitary sport, its results entirely dependent on the combatants. There’s no Bartman to snag a fly ball from Moises Alou, no tipped pass landing in the wrong wide receiver’s hands, no lucky bounce off the rim.
But all stars and All-Stars age, decay, and die. And perhaps Berto’s only hope is Mayweather got old between his epic fight with Pacquiao and the somewhat less celebrated fight this Saturday. Sticking with contemporary boxers, it happened to Roy Jones Jr, Oscar De La Hoya, and to Felix Trinidad. It’s just a matter of time, and timing. Father Time – or Mother Nature, if you want to keep it co-gender – is the only undefeated entity we know. But there’s nothing in his recent fights to suggest Mayweather is on the cusp of plunging into his Golden Years.
In the case of Mayweather, the template historical comparison is to Pernell Whitaker. It’s a sound one. When it comes to defense, Whitaker was as skilled and slick as anyone, which is probably why Mayweather placed Whitaker quite prominently on his all-time top-five fighters. Another thing they have in common is their inability to satisfies the public’s bloodlust. Only a true boxing devotee can appreciate the nuanced brilliance of both boxers.
Berto has branded himself an exciting fighter. He implores the media and masses to find a fight in which he wasn’t active or theatrical. But Mayweather has a way of making the best boxers rather boring. But there’s nothing mundane about perfection. And Andre Berto has 36 minutes to make Mayweather imperfect.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: A Sunny Start Friday
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports.