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How to Box Like Floyd Mayweather: Ten Tricks

by Tom Reynolds on February 27, 2011

Love him or hate him, Floyd Mayweather is a crafty, undefeated boxer that has made a career out of defensive boxing and countering his opponents. In a previous article, we showed some of the tricks that Manny Pacquiao uses as a southpaw boxer against orthodox fighters.

In the breakdown below, we have some boxing clips from the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley. We are going to cover some of the offensive and defensive boxing tricks that have helped Mayweather become so successful.

How to Box: Top Ten Boxing Tricks Video via Expert Boxing

  1. High Elbow Block, :05 When inside, Mayweather often uses his lead elbow and forearm as a frame on his opponent.  It is important to stand tall and lean to the outside.  Don’t stay here long, but use it to setup a little space and land short shots with your right hand.
  2. Head Pull, :22 – Head pulling works great in boxing and is a huge asset it wrestling and MMA. Shane Mosley was interviewed after this fight and talked about how much this wore him out in the fight.
    You can use your forearm or your body.  Think about this just like sprawling in wrestling.  Lay all of your weight into the back of your opponent’s head and neck.  When you’re ready, you can push off to a hook, or in MMA you can setup your chokes or knees.
  3. Shoulder Roll, :35 – Floyd has one of the best shoulder rolls in boxing. You’ll see him throw a right then roll his lead shoulder forward when he’s bobbing and weaving under Mosley’s counter hook.
    Mayweather will also lean back and roll his shoulder to block Mosley’s right. This can break someone’s wrist if they aren’t wrapped well.
  4. High Guard to the Drop Jab, 1:12 – The drop jab is a very fast punch that looks like you’re slapping or pawing at your opponent. Mayweather keeps his hands high and slaps down towards Mosley’s face.  It’s harder to see coming than a normal jab much like Anderson Silva’s unorthodox front kick that came straight up through Vitor’s guard.
  5. Forearm Crush, 1:34 – Oftentimes when Mayweather commits to a cross or a jab and his oppoent slips, he will leave his forearm across their neck.  Sometimes he will lean into them, other times he will simply leave the forearm up as a shield from counters.
    Floyd uses this to setup his own punches or block Mosley’s.  Watch him push off at the end and setup big crosses or hooks.
  6. Leaning Cross, 2:18 – Mayweather will lean his head forward and have his base back a little bit.  When Mosley punches at him, Mayweather will lean back slightly to avoid the punch then counter hard with a cross.  It’s nasty and pretty easy to pull off with practice.
    You’ll see a lof of Muay Thai fighters do this with high kicks. They’ll lean back to avoid the kick then counter with a right cross.  Ali and a few other great defensive boxers do this often as well.
  7. Opening the Guard, 2:35 – Be careful with this one.  Opening your guard can be great, but it will open you up to some strikes.  Basically, Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr. and many other boxers noted for their footwork will pull one or both of their hands from their face at times.  Sometimes they will bring a hand to their hip, and other times they will bring both hands out.
    The purpose is simple.  When your hands are away from your face, you can move a little faster and your punches come at unpredictable angles. Also, you can bait your opponent into thinking he has an easy punch then counter him when he lunges.
  8. Pushing Off, 2:58 – If you want to learn how to stop people from wanting to get inside on you, master this. When Mosley gets inside to try to work Mayweather’s body, Mayweather will push off with a cross face with his lead hand then throw the cross when he has space to.
  9. Head Positioning to Dirty Box, 3:08 – Head positioning is so critical in all of the martial arts.  Many boxers, wrestlers, and other combat athletes even use it as a third arm.  Mayweather is using his forhead to create enough space to strike while remaining protected.  By having his head so close under Mosley’s chin, he is forcing Mosley to stay upright and vulnerable while giving himself room to strike.
    This is one of the most important skills to master if you want to learn how to dirty box or clinch fight.
  10. Inside Slap Hook, 2:27 – Mayweather uses the inside slap hook to counter Mosley when he steps inside.  He isn’t overcommiting to the counter.  Instead, he is slapping out the hook to setup other strikes and leave himself protected.

Putting It All Together: How to Box Like Floyd Mayweather

Mayweather is crafty boxer that is fast, smart, and doesn’t get hit hard very often.  He has a big toolbox of options that keeps his opponents guessing even after studying his 40+ wins.

Pick a few of these techniques and practice them.  Spar light with them at first, and as you become more comfortable with the timing, add some hard sparring sessions in and make these techniques your own.

To finish, here is a great highlight video showing some of Mayweather’s greatest knockouts:

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BJJ Legend Draculino in a hilarious video showing why the guard is useful in self defense and MMA, despite the “ball grabbers.”

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  • Luigi

    I didn’t realize that boxing had this much to it. I guess it makes sense how a guy like mayweather or pacquiao can put people away so conisistently.

    I really liked number two with that head pull and number nine with that head positioning.

    • Eric

      Yea, these guys are crazy to watch. Mayweather’s counters are just ridiculous. He always seems two steps ahead.

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