Floyd Mayweather has made a career out of retirement by taking on a pantheon of the weird and wonderful in exhibition fights. Next in line is British YouTuber Deji. Better known as the brother of KSI, he has been boxing just as long as his sibling; but less successfully. He has taken three losses in his four fights, most notably to Jake Paul. Recently, Deji seems to have turned things around by fixing the cardio issues that plagued his early bouts. He stopped his last opponent, and looked not bad doing it. But this is a huge step up.
This fight lacks the but-what-if-he-catches-him appeal of Mayweather’s other YouTuber exhibition with the giant Logan Paul. Deji is not as highly trained as the kickboxers Mayweather has faced either, and the Goliath vs Goliath aspect of the Conor McGregor fight isn’t there. Deji is at a bigger disadvantage than any of Mayweather’s other exhibition opponents, and there is seemingly no real reason for this fight. But opportunities given should be opportunities taken—so here we are.
How good is Deji?
Deji does not have a nuanced or diverse skill set. His offense has been very limited, largely simultaneous counters to his opponents’ jab. Throughout his last fight against Fousey, he saw great success from swatting his leading right hand over the jab and following it up with a straight left. This is the only combination he consistently utilized in that bout, but it did continue to land.
Deji doesn’t seem to have much understanding of his potential advantages as a southpaw. He is of course a novice boxer, but basics like ensuring dominant lead foot position seem to be a coin flip with him. Mechanically, he has little semblance of form as soon as he enters an exchange. He can throw single shots relatively well, particularly to the body, but will throw his chin up and swat his punches when in the pocket.
Mayweather has some of the best ring craft the sport has ever seen. And much like every influencer boxer who isn’t named Jake Paul, Deji has no idea how to cut the ring. This can be seen clearly in the first round against Vinnie Hacker. Deji came out very aggressively, looking to knock out Hacker immediately. Despite being presented with ample opportunity to trap Hacker, he continually followed him around and let him escape. This fight took place before Deji had a real coach, so maybe things are different now.
Is Deji a good boxer? No, he’s not. Is Deji a good YouTube boxer? He’s better than most, but that’s not saying much. The Deji of late seems coachable, and clearly has a degree of natural ability. Perhaps having been in a good gym for longer will begin to pay dividends, but that will all come down to how both fighters approach the bout.
Mayweather’s approach to each exhibition fight has seemingly been in the hands of his opponents. His talk of “checking the temperature” just means that he will go as hard as they do. When Mikuru Asakura was trying to stop him in his last bout in Japan, Mayweather turned up the temperature and knocked him out soon after. He knows the brobdingnagian gap in skill level between Deji and himself means a real tactical game plan is basically unnecessary.
Mayweather will put Deji on the back foot and slowly follow him around the ring. If Deji sticks to the script, the fight will likely go the distance. As Mayweather said, these fights are supposed to be a show, just a bit of fun. He’s not looking to hurt anyone unless he needs to. However, if Deji takes his chance and tries to get the stoppage, then expect Mayweather to end the fight fairly quickly. But if Deji is going to go for it, there are things he can do to give himself the best chance.
There is nothing Deji could be taught in an eight-week camp that will narrow his odds for this fight in any drastic way. Mayweather doesn’t do anything so poorly that it could be considered an obvious weakness, but he does have habits and quirks that can be taken advantage of.
It has been said that Mayweather is weaker against southpaws. While he had flashes of trouble against southpaws Zab Judah and DeMarcus Corley, he still comfortably won those fights. But he does not win them the same way as he does in closed-stance matchups. When facing a lead right hand, Mayweather becomes a more aggressive fighter. He will initiate combinations with a lead right straight, and throw a check left hook when his opponent jabs in order to pivot out to his left.
— Happy Punch (@HappyPunchPromo) November 4, 2022
Deji can capitalize on these habits. The lead right is a risky punch, and Mayweather can’t throw it without stepping to the outside of Deji’s lead foot. This was never a problem for Mayweather in his prime, but he’s 45 now. If Deji can react in time, he should be capable of countering this attack. He has already shown a talent for slipping, but concise footwork will be necessary to get the jump on Mayweather.
Mayweather has a quirk when facing southpaws that presents an enormous opportunity to do damage. He will often place his lead foot on the inside of his opponent when jabbing, intentionally giving them the dominant position. He will slip into his opponent’s open side when they attempt to counter this “mistake”, leaving them unguarded until they can readjust. If Deji anticipates this tactic, he can catch Mayweather in a seriously disadvantageous position. He has been caught whilst doing this in the past, and will likely attempt it here, safe in the thought that Deji isn’t good enough to take advantage.
We can analyze this fight all day. We can write gameplans and tactics until there’s no ink left on earth. But the fact is, Mayweather is so ahead of Deji that he’s looped all the way around the planet and is now behind him, in prime position to kick his ass. The best approach for Deji to take would be to keep it light and have fun. Try to keep composed, and maybe he’ll get a cool picture of him landing a jab or something. This fight will go the distance if Deji doesn’t give Mayweather a reason to raise the temperature, and boil him alive.
The fight takes place this Saturday at the Coca Cola Arena in Dubai. It will be broadcast live on DAZN PPV for $14.99 for existing members, or $34.98 for non-members.