Louis & Napoles: Practical Precision

Technically sound footwork in boxing is about moving just enough to accomplish a purpose, while keeping your opponent guessing. And in the case of boxers who happen to be gifted with deadly punching power, another key goal is to carefully corner your adversary while always being in position to strike. Two of the best at this balletic art were dominant welterweight champion Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles, and legendary heavyweight knockout artist Joe Louis.

Precision and Power: Joe Louis
Joe Louis stalks Max Baer in Yankee Stadium in 1935. 

And in another of his excellent videos, Lee Wylie shows you how both “Mantequilla” and “The Brown Bomber” used skillfully deliberate and precise movement to bring their lethal offensive weapons into play. Effective power starts with positioning, and it was economical and strategic footwork which enabled both Louis and Napoles to be exceptionally dangerous punchers and dominant champions, not to mention all-time greats. Check it out:

‘A most telling anecdote of the measure of just how “good” Napoles was comes from his 1973 title defense against Ernie Lopez. This was their second meeting and while Lopez had been good enough to last into round fifteen the first time around, in the rematch “Mantequilla” was as smooth and as deadly as he’d ever been. By round seven he was looking for the knockout and he found it after landing a pair of powerful hooks and then an uppercut that put the tough Lopez down and out. He lay on the canvas for several minutes and Lopez’s manager, Howie Steindler, whose time in boxing went back to the 1920’s, declared that he had “never [seen] power like that.”

Precision and Power: Napoles
Napoles battles Emile Griffith in 1969. 

‘Following his death, the accolades and tributes have come thick and fast for a Hall of Fame champion who is universally regarded as one of the greatest welterweights of all-time. Our own Lee Wylie declared that Napoles “is arguably the finest counter-combination puncher in boxing history. In his prime, he was just about as good as it gets. I’m talking Ray Robinson good.”’        From “Remembering Mantequilla” by Neil Crane 

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One thought on “Louis & Napoles: Practical Precision

  • June 3, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Excellent stuff. Classic! Old-school! Forever school!


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