CompuBox: Mayweather likely tops Marquez easily

BY foxsports • September 19, 2009

Saturday's showdown between former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and consensus No. 2 Juan Manuel Marquez is filled with intrigue, storylines and questions. They include:

  • How much of his skills does Mayweather, a solid 4-to-1 favorite, still have following a 22-month layoff?

  • Will beyond-the-ring distractions (the upcoming assault trial of his uncle/trainer Roger, his car being linked to a shooting at a roller rink and whispers of tax troubles) affect Mayweather's focus and execution?

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  • At 36 and with many hard fights recently, will Marquez show his age?

  • Is Marquez asking too much of himself by fighting a younger, quicker, stronger and rested fighter at an unfamiliar weight?

    Only fight night — and hindsight — can offer answers but the numbers offer a glimpse of what might be.

    Changing his spots

    After losing to Chris John, counter-puncher Marquez added some spice to his normal counter-punching style. Although he's taking more chances he still became more statistically effective on offense while remaining responsible defensively. In nine fights tracked by CompuBox since the John fight, Marquez throws more (49.4 punches per round now to 45.9 then), lands more (19.0 to 14.6), throws and lands more power shots (29.2 and 13.3 to 27.3 and 10.3) and connects at a higher rate (45.7 percent to 37.5).

    Defensively, he takes more punches overall (14.4 per round now to 10.0 before) but his rivals land power shots at a nearly identical rate (34.8 percent now to 34.2 then).

    Waste not, want not

    The secret to Mayweather's success lies in his extraordinary efficiency. In his last two appearances against Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton he averaged 40.1 and 32.9 punches per round respectively, far below the 58.8 the average welterweight throws. While he landed 43 percent and 39.2 percent overall, he connected on an eye-popping 57.3 percent of his power shots against "The Golden Boy" and 38.9 percent of them against Hatton.

    At the same time, Mayweather tasted a far lower percentage of his foes' power shots — 24 percent from De La Hoya and 16.8 percent of Hatton's. In a sport where the percentage gap between shots landed and punches fielded are in the single digits, Mayweather's plus-minus ratings of plus-33 against De La Hoya and plus-22.1 against Hatton border on the superhuman.

    Compare those incredible plus-minus power figures to those Marquez recorded in his last two fights. Marquez enjoyed a plus-11 rating against the tricky Casamayor in power punches (42 percent to 31) and nine percent overall (31-22) while against Diaz he racked up a plus-seven overall (39-32) and an excellent plus-15 in connected power punches (47-32). This means that Marquez, even at his advanced age, can fight effectively against slick boxers and wade-in aggressors alike. That will come in handy against Mayweather, who will throw his entire arsenal of offensive and defensive maneuvers at the Mexican star.

    The "sludge" factor

    Like Bernard Hopkins, Mayweather's defense and countering abilities inhibit foes' offenses, and if "Money" retains this aspect of his game it may prove to be decisive. Contrast De La Hoya and Hatton's performances against Mayweather versus the three fights before they faced him. Against Mayweather, De La Hoya threw 3.8 percent fewer punches a round (48.9 to 50.8), connected on 28.7 percent fewer (10.2 to 14.3), tried 9.2 percent more power shots (28.4 to 26) but connected on 24.5 percent fewer (6.8 to 9.0). Even more dramatically, Hatton attempted 39.3 percent fewer punches against Mayweather (37.2 to 61.3), landed 70.6 percent fewer (6.3 to 21.4), tried 40.8 percent fewer power shots (30.9 to 52.2) and landed 74.3 percent fewer (5.2 to 20.2).

    Diaz's frenetic pace forced Marquez to average 81.3 punches per round but because Diaz is not the most defensively skilled of fighters, Marquez connected on 39.3 percent of his overall punches and 47.4 percent of his power shots. Against the counter-punching Casamayor — a man who gives all opponents a wide variety of thought-provoking looks — Marquez threw just 46.9 punches per round overall but still landed 42 percent of his 301 power shots. The huge divergence in output suggests that Marquez adjusts his game to the opponent and based on past history look for Marquez's output to be somewhere between the two extremes because Mayweather will likely force Marquez to take the lead. Against Casamayor, Marquez's jab landed just 16 percent of the time and look for similarly low numbers against Mayweather. Mayweather's ability to neutralize the jab will be paramount, for if he can stop Marquez's jab he will have an easier time stopping everything else.

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    For all the drama beyond the ring, Mayweather is always in impeccable condition. This is not the first time Mayweather has faced peripheral issues, for at one time or another both his uncle and father sat in jail cells during his fights — and he'll be the first to tell you that his record remains perfect. He is anxious to prove he remains the best in the business — both in the ring and at the negotiating table.

    Despite all the buildup, Mayweather has continued his pattern of shrewd matchmaking. Save for the layoff, Mayweather has every conceivable advantage — size, speed, power, ring wear, scar tissue (or the lack of it) and purse size. To top it all off, the fight is taking place in his hometown. In short, the native of America's biggest gambling town has stacked the deck.

    The only question is whether Mayweather will try to make a statement by battering the outsized Marquez before knocking him out or whether he'll be content to pick Marquez apart in his usual safety-first manner. He has the dimensions to control the flow and geometry and when that's the case he wins. Therefore, Mayweather will win a comfortable unanimous decision.

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