By Kirk Jackson
A few months ago, legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran made disparaging comments in regards to Floyd Mayweather’s accomplishments as a fighter.
As reported by Elisinio Castillo of BoxingScene Duran claimed that Mayweather is nothing special and would have been an average fighter in his era.
“He’s just another guy in the bunch,” said Duran.
“The problem right now is that Mayweather is fighting in an era where there are no real boxers,” Duran said. “We knew that kind of style, we were familiar with it. We were used to fighting those kind of boxers.”
Duran did fight in what was recognized as a “Golden Era” of boxing, including the likes of Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Wilfred Benitez, Hector Camcho, Tommy Hearns and a plethora of other great fighters.
We can only speculate on how Mayweather would have fared against those fighters. But we can’t fault Mayweather for being born and bred in this era. Many of the guys Duran mentioned did in fact beat him. Based on Mayweather’s skill set, speed, intelligence and adaptability, he could have potentially stood out as one of the best fighters of that era.
Duran did mention something interesting. He claimed the fighters in his era were accustomed to Mayweather’s style of fighting.
“If I was going up against a boxer like that, I would bust him up. I would bust him all over the place…the arms, the ribs. The first thing you have to do is forget about the head. The head is smaller than the body,” said Duran.
“You have to break a man down, and in order to do so you’re going to hit him in the kidneys and he’ll slowly begin to stop [his movement] and after four rounds he will no longer be able to walk.”
That sounds great in theory and some fighters have tried that strategy in the past. Ricky Hatton, Jesus Chavez, Jose Luis Castillo are fighters that come to mind with Castillo having the most success. Mayweather still managed to beat them.
Now Duran was quite the bully in the lightweight division, his best division. What made him so great was his ferocity, punching power, intelligent pressure, defensive ability to slip punches and counter-punching expertise all blended into one dynamic style. He was virtually unbeatable.
Duran had such an advantage over opponents in his lightweight days with his unique blend of size and skills for the division. He steamrolled through competition. He didn’t start losing until he moved up in weight class and some of his weaknesses were exploited.
Canelo is similar to Duran at lightweight. He is not the counter-puncher Duran was and overall does not have the ferocity of Duran but he is skilled in other aspects and is a patient pressure fighter. Like Duran when he moved up in weight. Canelo harbors a huge size advantage over almost every opponent he’s faced thus far; many of his opponents including Josesito Lopez, Matthew Hatton, Jose Miguel Cotto and Mayweather (catch-weight) had to move up in weight to fight him.
If Canelo emulates the style and embodies the ferocity of Duran at lightweight when he faces Mayweather this weekend, he can pull off the victory.
He has to use his unique size and skill to his advantage, with an emphasis on SIZE. We may see a resemblance of Duran’s style in Canelo’s approach this weekend.
He has to overwhelm Mayweather mentally and physically with a constant motion of moving forward, exerting intense pressure. And with a steady jab, deliver powerful shots to the arms, body, wherever.
Even with that strategy implored, it does not guarantee a victory for Canelo.
During his era, Duran had his problems with Benitez and Leonard. These are two fighters Mayweather compares favorably with. What made them difficult opponents for Duran especially in the case of Benitez, was his ability to make Duran miss and counter-punch him effectively.
Even if he was in Duran’s punching range, he would still find a way to make Duran miss.
Question is can the 36-year old Mayweather play spoiler to the 23-year old poised young fighter who may be doing his best Roberto Duran impression?