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Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the spotlight: Analysis of his toughest opponent


By Anthony "Zute" George

On more than one occasion, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has named Emanuel Augustus as his toughest opponent. This may be a surprise to some boxing fans, as Mayweather stopped Augustus in nine heats, winning virtually every round of the contest.


If boxing fans and correspondents were asked the same question, they probably would say Jose Louis Castillo, a fight Mayweather should have lost, or Marcos Maidana, a bout Mayweather ‘could’ have lost the first time. I thought he did.


Or perhaps Oscar DeLaHoya, a match Mayweather won by a split decision. I thought Mayweather was the clear winner of the latter, by sweeping the last three rounds.


But Emanuel Augustus?


If you look back at that fight, as I did, you can see why Mayweather gives such a prestigious honor to the man once called Augustus Burton.


The fight took place on October 21st, 2000. A time before September 11th, and before Mayweather was known as “Money.”


Pretty Boy Mayweather, was the WBC Super Featherweight Champion, a title he won by dominating Genaro Hernandez. The fight with Augustus was a non-title affair and scheduled for 10 rounds.


Augustus was 22-16-4 going into the bout. He was, at best, window dressing for the Pretty Boy show. A tune-up for the upcoming showdown with Diego Corrales. For the bout, Mayweather weighed in four pounds over the 130-pund limit, which was in keeping with the over the weight, non-title fights champions often fought in the past. Nothing about this fight was supposed to be competitive.


The fight started with Mayweather as the aggressor. Throwing lead right hands, and dispensing hard left and right hooks to Augustus’ body.  Augustus was absorbing the blows and trying to find range with his jab. With about 1:30 left in round one Augustus started touching the very aggressive Mayweather with his jab, and started slipping the Mayweather lead right. With that said, it was still an easy round to score for the very aggressive Mayweather.


In round two, Augustus was throwing the jab with more purpose, and began to back Mayweather up. Augusts also started landing to the body. The second half of round two saw both fighters in the center of the ring trading shots. While Mayweather got the best of the rapid-fire exchanges, Augustus never stopped coming or throwing.


This was the theme throughout the fight. Mayweather threw punches with bad intentions the entire night, and hardly missed. Despite that, Augustus kept coming, trying to measure Mayweather with the jab, and had moderate success with his right hand.


Mayweather suffered from a bloody nose as a result of the Augustus offense. Yet, as with everything else in this fight, Mayweather drew more blood from Augustus.  


At the end of round seven, despite winning every round up until that point and out landing Augustus by a wide margin, Mayweather was grasping for breath, blood was oozing out of his nose, and he was informing his corner he hurt his right hand.


In round eight, Mayweather fought exclusively backing up, and kept the charging Augustus at bay with his left hand; his right flipper was all but out of commission. Halfway through the round, referee Dale Grable asked the ring doctor to look at Augustus, who was having issues with his left ear, bleeding from his nose, and dealing with a cut over his left eye.  


Augustus seemed bothered more by the possibility of the fight being stopped than the leather he was eating all night. In the last minute of the round, more toe-to-toe action resumed. Mayweather sucked it up and managed to land hard shots with his damaged right fist. Augustus landed some of his hardest punches of the fight during these exchanges as well. But it was not enough, as Mayweather won another round.  

In round nine, Augustus came out in the southpaw stance. Mayweather seemed content to use his movement and keep Augustus at bay with his left jab.


The problem for Mayweather, as was the case throughout the fight, was Augustus was just too dam good at cutting off the ring and closing the distance. There would be no cruising for Mayweather in this fight. 


Realizing this, Mayweather opened up one more time, unleashing a barrage of left jabs and left hooks, both to the head and body.


For the first time in the bout, the Mayweather offense truly overwhelmed Augustus and the fight was stopped.


It was arguably Mayweather’s single most impressive offensive moment of his career. To me, there is no doubt it was his most exciting fight (no surprise with Augustus involved).


I can also argue it was his best win. His throbbing of Diego Corrales ranks up there as well, however, Diego, with all due respect, offered no resistance in that fight and got beat up. Augustus forced Mayweather to fight, even when it served him best to coast.


However, you rank it, Mayweather’s victory over Augustus is proof that even the best defensive fighters are more at risk to get hit when they commit to hard punches in the pocket.    


The boxing curriculum of hit and not get hit has been a theory for a long time. It can be traced all the way back to when James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett defeated bare knuckle master, John L. Sullivan. Jack Johnson revolutionized it, Willie Pep made it stuff of legend, and many pugilists thereafter tried to make a living off it.  


As with all curriculum theories, however, putting theory to practice is often a conundrum not easily resolved. Jess Willard knocked out Jack Johnson. Yes, Willie Pep won a round without throwing a single punch, but who wants to watch that every single fight? How well would that strategy play out against Sandy Saddler? Pep never had the chance to try.


When put to practice, the theory of getting hit and not get hit runs into a brick wall if you really try and hit your opponent. If you do not try, you will either stink the joint out, or lose. Often both.


Mayweather has altered the curriculum of hit and not get hit, by sacrificing the hit component, in a major way. Yet he still managed to be a major PPV star—changing his nickname to “Money.”


Mayweather’s defense was interesting enough for fans to continue to buy his fights, and he usually did just enough offensively to get the nod from the judges.  Although I still maintain Maidana bested him that first fight, at the very least it should have been a draw.


There is no question Mayweather has changed his offensive style to get hit less. Or perhaps it was because of his hand problems. Either way, you can trace both scenarios back to the Augustus fight.


Mayweather’s victory over Augustus was indeed a fistic masterpiece, not a defensive one; I would much rather watch this fight over his defensive showings against the likes of Canelo and Pacquiao; fights where the new boxing curriculum was in full display.  


What the Mayweather vs. Augustus fight also does is provide evidence that, no matter how great you are defensively, you run the risk of getting hit more, and harder.    


I would not say Augustus was the hardest fight for Mayweather. It is hard to label a fight that Mayweather virtually swept on the scorecards and won via TKO as such.


But Mayweather knows better than me. Also, there is no question Augustus is as tough as they come and his boxing skills were immense. If he had any kind of backing…


In many was this was Mayweather’s most important, and forgotten fight.




Twitter: @Zute29



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