(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Among MMA fighters, B.J. Penn is known for his outstanding boxing skills. He broke George St Pierre's nose with an uppercut, decimated Sean Sherk with his jab and used brutal counter punching to crush Diego Sanchez. He used a lovely outside slip-right cross to KTFO Matt Hughes.
Legendary boxing trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr is less impressed with Penn's game. He's now working with Penn to prepare the two division UFC champ for his UFC 127 showdown with Jon Fitch.
Fight Hype spoke to Mayweather:
BJ Penn is a cool dude man. I'll be honest, at first, it didn't seem like he could fight that good. I mean, I don't know about his ground game and all of that stuff, but he's got some pop and in just the 3 days I've been working with him, he has improved man. In his words, man, he told me, 'I ain't never seen some of this stuff you're showing me man.' And that's only after 3 days. BJ is learning fast man. He's a good guy...If BJ throws his shots the way I got him throwing his shots, he will win. See, those guys throwing shots different than the way we do it, so I'm teaching BJ how to keep it standing and be effective. Let me tell you something man, if he uses it, then it will work.
Mayweather also talked about Penn's previous training with Freddie Roach:
"I bet he ain't going back to [Freddie Roach] either. He worked with Freddie 'The Joke Coach' Roach, and he telling me he has never see the stuff I'm showing him. So what does that tell you? Man, the only thing Freddie Roach can do better than me is wash my car."
Kaleb Kelchner comments on the wisdom of Penn spending his time working boxing with Mayweather, Sr.:
BJ Penn seeking to further improve his boxing is a scary thought in and of itself, especially when one considers that Penn just starched Matt Hughes in 21 seconds with a brutal combo that shut Hughes' lights off. Penn is set to face welterweight contender Jon Fitch at UFC 127 in Australia, and with a wrestling game like Fitch's, one has to wonder if Penn spending two weeks with Mayweather Sr. is time well spent. UFC 127 takes place February 27th, and time management for a fight camp is crucial. Fitch's wrestling and Penn's takedown defense are the two greatest variables going into this match. It's hard to point at Penn's second match with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and say that wrestling is how to beat Penn, when GSP's wrestling is arguably the best in MMA today.
On a broader note, it's fascinating that mixed martial artists are just now hooking up with world class boxing trainers. Penn is considered one of the best boxers in MMA, and he's only spent a short amount of time working with boxing coaches that are on a world class level. This is the beauty of mixed martial arts, as new generations come into the sport, they'll start where the champions of today finish.
Kelcher's concerns about Penn's time management during training are merited. Training has always been Penn's weak spot. I agree that I'd advise Penn to train some wrestling with Ben Askren or Daniel Cormier before he hones his already sharp boxing game, but what do I know?