Adrien Broner suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Marcos Maidana last Saturday. Many boxing analysts were stunned at the loss, as Broner’s speed and shoulder roll defense (which is very much like Mayweather’s) has proven so effective in past fights. The question on everyone’s mind is “Why did Broner lose so badly this time?
The answers come from reviewing the tapes and studying the weaknesses of both Broner’s defense and the shoulder roll in general, as well as the style Maidana exhibits in nearly all his fights. The combination of a flaw in Broner’s defense as well as Maidana’s natural style lays out a blueprint on how to beat a shoulder roll defense, and probably the blueprint on how to beat Mayweather (although it would obviously be harder to accomplish this than it was with Broner, whose shoulder roll is more flawed than Mayweather’s.)
The key to a shoulder roll defense is tucking your chin behind a high front shoulder, angling the body to the side so as to not be squared in front of your opponent, and blocking straight punches with your front arm or shoulder, or hooks with your other glove. If the punch is coming high as a hook where you would not be able to block, you must rely on quick reflexes to move your head backward and away from the punch. This would also be the opportunity to quickly counter with your free hand.
Here is Broner’s issue, and why he lost to Maidana. The shoulder roll depends mostly on creating distance from your opponent with your head, getting the head out of the way and blocking body punches with the arm position. The first flaw in Broner’s use of the shoulder roll is that his natural instinct is to come out of it and push his opponent away if the opponent is getting too close. This pushes his arms straight forward, opening his body to an attack and giving him no defense except to move his head straight backward. A good combination puncher like Maidana who understands that this will happen can throw combinations while moving forward, thus putting him in position to connect to both the body that is exposed as well as the head which is further backward but still well within punching range as you are now close to your opponent. This can easily be seen in the clip below.
The flaw is essentially that Broner is still looking straight forward as Maidana, who throws a looping left hook within range of Broner’s head which has moved straight backward, but not to the left which is the only way to get it clear of the punch. Broner’s reflexes are not fast enough for him to both move his head backward and also know to move it to the side and away from the punch, which leaves it a clear target for Maidana. Maidana’s straight forward style could have been neutralized by Broner understanding that he must counterpunch after the first Maidana blow instead of concentrating on moving backward. Keep the shoulder tight and wait to counter when the first punch is landed, neutralizing the second more damaging punch. Broner does not understand how to adapt his style, and thus this same pattern continued all night. Essentially, Broner was either too arrogant or too inexperienced to understand that no defense is perfect, and therefor he did not know how to adapt it when something goes wrong. You will notice in the next clip the exact same sequence happens, resulting in a knockdown.
Broner is literally blind during these exchanges, keeping his eyes straight ahead and attempting to move his head backward but without side to side movement, which is necessary to get that few extra inches necessary to keep your head out of range if the opponent has managed to get inside and close enough. Once again, in Broner’s case with Maidana, he needed to counterpunch instead of trying to move backward, this would have neutralized the second and third punches if the sequence, where Broner is not able to see the punch as it is coming around the side of his head.
The other flaw in Broner’s defense is that when he did attempt to keep the shoulder high during a punch sequence, he has only trained to move his head backward immediately. When he does move his head backward from a shoulder high stance, he is literally leaning backward over his right shoulder, without holding his right hand high to block a punch. Maidana understood this , and continued to throw hard right after hard right directly into Broner’s exposed face. Broner simply did not have the ability to lean backward far enough to get out of range, his body is not long enough. Maidana was moving forward during every exchange, and thus well within range to throw this right hook and land it. Broner needed to either spin left during his backward movement and thus move out of position for the punch to land, or to counterpunch immediately after the first punch that moves Maidana forward. During these heavy punches, Maidana is well open for a huge counterpunch that never came.
Lets face it, Broner’s use of the shoulder roll needs work. It may look good at first, but unless you keep your body to the side religiously, the high shoulder and attempt to roll backward just keep you in range, and well exposed for a come forward puncher like Maidana. This type of fighter is taylor made for the shoulder roll, and it is why that this type of fighter always gives shoulder roll defenses problems (think Mayweather Cotto, Mayweather Castillo, etc.) If the shoulder roll is poorly executed, and not used as a counterpunching situation, the fighter is essentially defenseless. You can see that right hands from Maidana were even more effective than lefts, as far more landed over the course of the night. Even though it was lefts that produced the knockdowns, it was rights that took the major toll on Broner.
If Adrien Broner can improve his ability to react and adjust, and has prepared for this type of fighter who closes the gap so quickly while throwing looping hooks that he will not see, then possibly he can use this lesson to realize that counterpunching from this position will probable knock his opponents out. If he cannot learn from this experience, he will continue to lose badly to every fighter who employs this type of style.
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