Floyd Mayweather’s boxing skills are placed under the analytical microscope by psychologist and former US Air Force force and White House Strategist Gary Kline
Floyd Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao is billed as the the richest bout in boxing history.
The contest itself is of considerable interest for students of sports management and promotion.I want to concentrate on a study made by author and psychologist Gary Klein in his recent book Seeing what others don’t .
Klein had been working on a theory of how insight occur. His interest in sport and boxing had prompted him to study an unexpected result of a fight between Mayweather and the British boxer Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton for the welterweight championship, also for the welterweight championship in Las Vagas [December, 2007].
The contestants had similar records. Neither had lost as a professional boxer.
Hatton was considered the more explosive puncher, Mayweather the consummate boxer.
Hatton’s power threatened Mayweather at the start, although Mayweather, according to Klein hung on, until with two rounds to go, Mayweather launched what Klein saw as a desperate but lucky punch from a defensive position, and with Hatton moving in. Lights out for Hatton.
The end of the fight was as surprising to Klein as it was to Ricky Hatton.
Was it just luck?
Klein took the video of the fight and analysed carefully and repeatedly what had happened. His original view was that he had witnessed a ‘get out of jail break’ by the American.
But as he looked more closely, he finds the pattern which he and Hatton had not. In the early rounds, Hatton’s fierce left hand sweeping hook damaged Mayweather. But Klein began to see how Mayweather pwas increasingly coping in defense. He was learning that the attack brought with it a weakness in defense and was waiting for the time to make his own reply.
It almost worked in round eight. Hatton, tiring, continued his plan, now against an opponent waiting. In round ten, Hatton continued his strategy against a prepared opponent. Mayweather took his second chance. Hatton lost on a technical knockout.
Klein suggested that Mayweather had also analyzed Hatton’s style in advance, but needed to learn it again from experience. It suggests how expertise is acquired.
Other examples abound. The unexpected slice of luck may be open to another interpretation. It may be the reaction of a goal keeper saving a penalty, or a great tennis player ‘guessing where an opponent’s serve or reply is going or even a strong chess player playing a move likely to induce an error rather than a technically sounder move.
Klein suggests his own change of belief, from seeing a lucky punch, to seeing a process of experiential learning, weakens the ‘aha’ theory of insight.
It also helps those interested in the fight to see what is going on in a different light.