Op-Ed: Floyd Mayweather Jr ‘shoulder roll’ defense best of decade

Posted Mar 15, 2011 by William Charles Baker
Floyd Mayweather Jr should be considered the best defensive fighter of the decade based on how he comes out unscathed after a fight. One of the basics of his greatness is his use of the shoulder roll, otherwise known as the Philly shell defense.
Perhaps there is some common ground on which fight fans can agree. We have P4P and multiple titles and their value. Not many champions can claim to exit their fights looking pretty much the same as they went in except for Floyd Mayweather Jr.
To deny the greatness of Manny Pacquiao would be just as wrong as using his greatness as a calling card to chronicle his activities on a daily basis. The champion himself probably does not want this and his humility in a public forum seems to relate the same. There is a difference between news and hero worship. Boxing writers know the difference whether it comes up or not.
For Pacquiao, who came from humble beginnings even to the presidency of the Philippines, one day is not beyond his reach. With the eight-time champion anything is possible. Not much more can or probably should be said about the man unless it is in his relationship to other men who do the same business that he does. When those things are said then they should be said with a love of the sport in mind and not the individual personalities or hero worship as the core.
Manny Pacquiao in the ring
Manny Pacquiao in the ring
Photo by Dral10
So let it be said that Floyd Mayweather Jr is the best defensive fighter of the decade based on his mastery of the shoulder roll or otherwise known as the Philly shell defense. A defense many have attempted to use but few have used effectively.
The BoxingRepublic reports: “The defensive guard that is getting used more often these days is the guard that Floyd Mayweather Jr utilizes which is either referred as the “Philly Shell” or the “Shoulder Roll”. Basically, the lead hand is kept low with the lead shoulder kept close to the chin and the back hand covering the side of the face. More experienced fighters use this guard as it requires superb reflexes and counter punching abilities. When using this guard you are trying to draw your opponent in by baiting them with the low lead hand. A classic example of this is when your opponent throws a straight and you slightly step back and roll your shoulder to deflect the punch while following threw the roll with a hook of your own to their chin.”
What other criteria could there be to determine defensive greatness of Mayweather unless he was bionic or superhuman or had some kind of special physicality beyond human anatomy? The truth is in the face. It is possible to lose a fight and come out unscathed while the winner looks a lot like the loser. It happens when fights go the distance and well you know how hometown scoring works. So the loser can take some solace that teeth are still in place and at worst they got a loss that they probably should have won. Defense is the first step in deciding if boxing is for you.
Ever been in a street fight? Now we are talking you and me and other guys that came up in the ghetto or El Barrio or Beverly Hills that had a fight. Maybe it was in the school yard or over a girl or some money. You could have beaten the next guy up but if you showed the worst of the battle then they said you lost. Defensive fighters live to fight another day. The idea in boxing has always been to hit and not get hit.
Black eyes, broken jaws, busted ear drums, split lips, broken noses and blood show that somebody got hit on purpose and if they won so be it but you have to question their defense. Remember the cardinal rule of hit and not be hit.
Manny Pacquiao is the fighter of the decade and that can be accepted but Floyd Mayweather Jr is the defensive fighter of the same era and the only reason he rests at second in the bigger category is inactivity in the ring. Had there been more fights who can say where he would stand.
Pacquiao gets hit and the pictures prove this. Photojournalism is a wonderful thing. We admire the guys that pull through epic battles when in our hearts we know it would be better to win without the scars. Love or hate Mayweather you will see why he had the nerve to carry the moniker of “pretty boy” throughout his earlier career.
Mayweather and his domestic problems or things in his life do not affect me. Where he is going today or what city he will get on a bus to cheering crowds is of no interest to me. Whether he meets the president or some political leaders is in the same category. Boxing is the important thing and the health of those that box is important to me. Hopefully all those that enter the ring would be great defensive fighters but that does not happen so we are going to see greatness in the bolder statement of blood and guts. Defense usually leads to boring fights for those that only understand it in the context of other sports.
The idea in boxing is to hit and not get hit. The rule is the same win or lose, champion or chump, fighter or pretender and until somebody beats Floyd up in the ring he is undefeated and still “Money Mayweather” with the winning smile and the “shoulder roll” defense that has worked well for him throughout his career.