They say that in boxing, styles make fights. It matters less how strong you are or how fast you are. Your style and technique are most important. And while this is generally true, some styles are more effective than others.
One particular boxing style is so effective, it has produced a family lineage of world champion boxers. Developed by brothers Roger and Floyd Mayweather Sr., during their time as professional boxers from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Mayweather style is enigmatic and hard to penetrate.
But it wasn’t until undefeated legend, Floyd Sr.’s son, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. came to prominence that the Mayweather style of boxing was truly heralded.
Yes, the Mayweather style is one of boxing’s most technical styles. It’s a modification of the Philly Shell (also known as the Crab Style), made famous by prizefighters who trained largely in the Philadelphia inner city, where boxing was extremely popular.
However, Mayweather himself has distanced his family’s style from the Philly Shell, stating that his version is unique. The Mayweathers have certainly made their modifications.
For those who aren’t familiar, we’ve come up with a simple breakdown of the Mayweather style, showing you the basics of both defense and offense. If you’re looking to maybe give this style a try, this would be a good starting point.
To be clear, the Mayweather style is not for beginner boxers. It carries with it a high risk. But if used correctly, it becomes one of the most effective techniques you can employ in the ring.
Today, Evolve Daily breaks down the Mayweather style of boxing.
1) Manipulating The Centerline
The traditional boxing stance is wide, offering good positioning when it comes to seamlessly transitioning between offense and defense. The Mayweather style, however, is much narrower and capitalizes on the centerline theory in order to provide evasive movement opportunities.
Boxing relies heavily on a fighter’s understanding of how to control the centerline, an imaginary line that extends from the front of an opponent’s head to yours. All strikes from the boxing position will typically attack the centerline, and anything that crosses the line of fire is a target.
— Evolve MMA (@EvolveMMA) May 10, 2020
Mayweather manipulates the centerline by cutting off a more extreme angle, concealing his chest from his opponent. There is more weight shifted towards the right foot also, as it makes head movement much more fluid. This greatly reduces contact points, which in turn also make it technically easier to defend against attacks, albeit with good awareness.
In this stance, it also allows the fighter to roll their upper body more easily, which gives way to Mayweather’s infamous shoulder roll techniques, which we’ll later go into detail with.
2) Defensive Position
After the stance comes the defensive position, particularly where arms are placed.
The Mayweather stance is viewed as a defensive stance. In this stance, the lead shoulder partially blocks the chin, which is neatly tucked and concealed. The rest of the lead biceps and forearm protect the body. The off-hand then protects the other side of the head, while the elbows guard the other side of the body.
Holding this position allows for optimal parrying with both arms, providing quick countering opportunities. It also enables better head movement techniques such as bobbing and weaving, pulling, and leaning.
Mayweather loves to catch an opponent’s punches, and the fire sharp counters, sometimes simultaneously. He also uses a combination of footwork and upper torso movement to offer opponents different angles. Reflexes and timing are key in the Mayweather style of boxing, so you have to constantly remain laser focused.
This defensive position is a difficult one to master, but with enough practice and real-world application, every experience is a learning one, and you’ll no doubt get better with time. You may need to be cautious, however, as this position is very risky.
3) The Shoulder Roll
Mayweather isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket with his opponents because of his ability to use his large, broad shoulders for defense. The Mayweather style allows fighters to cover up nicely, limiting the contact points, while using superior movement to evade attacks.
Mayweather’s infamous shoulder roll is the focal point of this defensive style of fighting. It’s also the reason why Mayweather develops his shoulders into large boulders capable of being used as a shield for his chin, and as a parry.
In addition to the forearms, the gloves, and the biceps, Mayweather’s shoulder offers an extra defensive tool that he often utilizes to pick off his opponents’ attacks. Mayweather is a master of rolling with the punches, as he usually turns his shoulder inward to parry, and then comes back in the opposite direction with a counter.
— Evolve MMA (@EvolveMMA) December 30, 2019
With enough practice in the Mayweather style, you can gain the confidence you need to be able to handle any opponent’s offense.
A lot of the preparation and skill development to excel in the Mayweather style is done through a combination of special mitt work and light sparring.
4) The Training
Training in the Mayweather style of boxing is important, and a boxer must focus on developing superior mobility, catlike reflexes, and sound defensive awareness. The most important aspects of training centers around training the hands to move freely and fluidly, in order to successfully block and parry.
Training involves a variety of movement drills, featuring both textbook drills, as well as specialized drills. A lot of emphasis is placed on a boxer’s ability to anticipate punches and execute the correct movement response.
Since Mayweather often trains behind closed doors, much of his methodologies remain in secrecy. But the fundamental science of this particular style is likely centered around his ability to control the ring. Thus, working on your ring generalship is essential in the Mayweather style.
Footwork is extremely important, as is honing the ability to hold position and use the shoulder roll.
Equipment you can use include the slip bag, the double-ended bag, and the foam sticks.
Lastly, the Mayweather style is heavily reliant on a boxer’s strength and conditioning. This is the reason why Mayweather trained incessantly for his bouts when he was an active competitor.
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