The southpaw headache

Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

In boxing, the term “southpaw” refers to the fighting stance where the boxer has his right hand and right foot forward, throwing right jabs and following them with either a left cross or a right hook.  The “orthodox” or right-handed stance, which is the default stance of most boxers, is basically a mirror-reverse image of the southpaw stance.

As the mega fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. nears, astute boxing observers opine that Pacquiao’s southpaw stance will pose problems for Mayweather Jr. This observation, of course, elicits the following query: Just what’s in a southpaw stance that right-handed boxers dread?

Back in the late 1980s, when I was a reporter covering the boxing beat for several local sports magazines, I remember Toti Sangalang, one of the most respected and well-loved trainers in Philippine boxing, explaining the difficulty of training a southpaw. “Mahirap i-train ang kaliwete kasi lahat ng itinuro mo sa right-handed na boxer, kailangan baligtarin mo (It is difficult to train a southpaw fighter because everything you have taught the right-handed boxer, you have to do it in reverse),” he said.

To this day, the prevailing sentiment among trainers is that it is difficult to fight a southpaw, particularly one who has a very active right jab. If you are a right-handed boxer facing an opponent who moves in a mirror-reverse mode, you will find it difficult to move around, especially with the southpaw boxer’s protruding right foot getting in the way and eating up your space. Simply put, the southpaw stance messes up a right-handed boxer’s movements.

A problem also crops up when the right-handed boxer tries to trade jabs with a southpaw.
When two right-handed fighters clash their jabbing arm is on the opposite side, allowing both of them to jab freely. When a right-handed boxer faces a southpaw’s jab, the latter’s jab is coming from the same angle and this makes it difficult for a slick right-handed boxer who relies on his left jab to use it effectively. More often than not, the right-handed boxer’s left jab ends up being blocked by the southpaw’s right jab.

When Mayweather Jr. takes on Pacquiao, it will mark a rare occasion that he will take on a southpaw opponent. One can count on the fingers of one hand the number of southpaw pugs Mayweather Jr. had fought. There was Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in 2013, who Mayweather Jr. handled with ease because the former did not know how to take advantage of his southpaw stance. A more revealing and demanding fight against a southpaw for Mayweather Jr. happened in 2006, when he took on fellow American Zab Judah for the International Boxing Federation welterweight strap.  Mayweather Jr. struggled to move and put his combinations together in the early rounds and was a sucker for Judah’s left hook/straight thrown after a series of right jabs. A right hook actually knocked down Mayweather Jr., only referee Richard Steele did not notice it.

Pacquiao figures to be the toughest southpaw adversary for Mayweather Jr. What makes Pacquiao more difficult to handle today is that he has developed his right hand/jab/hook, throwing it with alarming frequency and confidence. Pacquiao also knows how to vary the left, throwing it either in a cross or straight manner, in a wink of an eye. Pacquiao, though, may want to favor the cross over the straight. The Filipino’s tendency to lunge in with a straight left will make him predictable and a sucker for Mayweather Jr.’s counter over the top right hand. Instead of just barging in, Pacquiao will have to use a lot of feints to make his offense a difficult read for Mayweather Jr. One can already envision Pacquiao feinting as if about to throw his patented left only to unload a right hook instead.

A southpaw fighter like Pacquiao is used to fighting right-handed boxers, but a right-handed fighter like Mayweather Jr. rarely experiments with a southpaw foe. To his credit, Mayweather Jr. is preparing in earnest, having tapped the services of no less than Judah.
Down the road, Mayweather Jr. figures to hire younger and more aggressive southpaws to imitate Pacquiao’s style.

The prevailing opinion is that Pacquiao’s southpaw stance will give Mayweather Jr. headaches. Then again, the fistic genius that he is, Mayweather Jr. is likely preparing an antidote already, one worth discussing in a future column.
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  1. A good piece of advice by Thurman that Team Pacquiao must know:

    Team Pacquiao should be wise and vigilant of what the other camp is doing. manny should have somebody in his team checking updates on what’s happening. A lot of concerned people give him good pieces of advice as for the strategies that he should use against Floyd. Juan Manuel Marquez and Oscar dela Hoya did (he wants Manny to win for personal reasons). I am positive that Floyd is roided but USADA will never expose him due to their ties. It was stupid of Pacquiao’s team not to have demanded 2 testing agencies (VADA) as USADA is known for hiding positive tests and is not as good as VADA in catching cheaters.

    Last, Manny (i hope somebody calls your attention), please NEVER underestimate Floyd as it will be the dumbest thing you’ll ever do. The times you have become overconfident are the times you have lost (Morales 1, JMM 4, Bradley 1). Saying you have fought bigger fighters and defeated them so the smaller opponent is easier work, is not just showing overconfidence but also arrogance. Remember that God humbles down the proud. You should have already learned your lesson.

  2. Mayweather already knows all this things, so he will do something else.. Mayweather will do everything to win this fight at all cost. Armed with black check He instructed Ariza to negotiate with Memo Heredia to provide Mayweather the Talisman that Marquez used to KO Pacquiao. Al Haymon was instructed to bribe the USADA staffs. If there’s no KO, all judges will declare Maywether the winner just like Pacquiao vs Bradley I, the 3 blind mice was in Mayweather payroll. In case Pacquiao KO Mayweather, the USADA will declare Pacquiao blood test result is positive on PED.

    • I think ur observation is possible,,, wth badweather family
      And their big time bad gamblers they can do this things ,,,, I thank u val,,, u helping pacman team to be very careful….eyes open pacman fans…

  3. Hope Floyd can’t figure out what to do with a speedy southpaw. Judah is miles away with the Pacman’s style & Floyd can’t properly prepare with Judah & Corley as sparring partners. Hope Pac will prepare some variations to his attack and vary it from time to time so that Floyd can’t adjust easily! Anyway, Pac is just a one clean power punch away to KO Mr. TBE!

  4. In this interview,, notice how Roy Jones Jr. Considers Floyd as dangerous. Because he knows that Memo Heredia works with Floyd. How does he know? Because 2 of his pupils (Jean Pascal & Jessie Vargas) work with Memo Heredia. Boxing insiders and some American media people are already aware. So Pacquiao better be prepared for power too, defense and tactics (switching up), and GREAT physical condition/stamina.

    • the best weapon of manny against floyd is guts to win by a big margin and by prayer with faith in GOD.

  5. In this interview,, notice how Roy Jones Jr. Conwiders Floyd as dangerous. Because he knows tha Memo Heredia works with Floyd. How does he know? Because 2 of his pupils (Jean Pascal & Jessie Vargas) work with Memo Heredia. Boxing insiders and some American media people are already aware. So Pacquiao better be prepared for power too, defense and tactics (switching up), and GREAT physical condition/stamina.

  6. Correct. It is inconceivable that Mayweather will not be prepared for Pacquiao’s style. Pacquiao better prepare to fight against different styles while there’s still time. He should be prepared to fight a “very strong” Mayweather as he’s training at nighttime with Memo Heredia, the talented chemist who helped Marquez in fight 3 &4, who’s been with Floyd since Maidana 2. He must know how to dodge Floyd’s punches while dishing his own because here lies his success in the fight. Floyd’s goal is to knock him out inside 5 rounds, better than what Marquez did, that is why Heredia developed a “power program” for Floyd. Manny’s team must know that Floyd, having Ariza and Heredia in his team, will have a “better chin” come fight night, esp.that his chin has already been cracked not just by Marquez (a bit by Bradley and Rios) but as well as his former sparring partners. Therefore, Pacquiao must tighten his defense to avoid getting hurt and losing eventually. They should stop bringing up that Pacquiao hits harder than Floyd because it is no longer true by this time, ask Miguel Cotto. They should add oxygen-rich food or organic food to his diet to up his stamina. I don’t understand why they have not employed a nutrition specialist in the most important fight of his career. Last, they should not disclose all kinds of their training to educate the opponent’s team. Sparringmates cannot be trusted “this time”. They should be wary. I hope above writer relay this to Team Pacquiao.