This Saturday, from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, and shown live on HBO PPV, Floyd Mayweather, JR., 41-0, 25 KO’s, returns to the ring to take on the WBC Welterweight Champion, Victor Ortiz, 29-2-2, 22 KO’s, in a 12 round contest.
Mayweather, JR., began to enter the limelight as the big names of the 1990s began to disappear. He found a gap and eagerly filled it, but the audience wasn’t very receptive at first. There are many that argue that Floyd treats boxing like a business rather than a sport and it’s true, but it has been his business sense that has made him a great deal of money.
In 2001, Floyd took on fellow undefeated super featherweight, Diego Corrales, and made him look like an amateur. He would stop him in 10 rounds and turn some heads. He would struggle with Jose Luis Castillo, but come out on top on two different occasions, and in 2005, Floyd made a great decision, taking on huge reward for little risk. He took on the vastly popular, Arturo “Thunder” Gatti.
At this point, Mayweather, JR., had fought much better fighters than Gatti, but none of them had the appeal of the Italian slugger. He was a pay per view entity, a man that would never give up and could end the fight at any time. Despite the disparity in skill, some thought that Gatti would pull a rabbit out of his hat and land that left hook and leave Mayweather on the floor.
Floyd picked up the light welterweight title with a six round destruction of Gatti on pay per view, and became a pay per view attraction himself. He started the persona of “Money” Mayweather, an overconfident braggart that would belittle his opposition at every opportunity. He flashed money, and became the man that everyone loved to hate. Those that insult Mayweather must recognize his marketing instincts. He took a page out of Muhammad Ali’s book. A fighter with a non-fan friendly style became one of the biggest attractions in boxing. That’s a feat in and of itself.
The problem with Floyd is that, from 2006 to 2010, he stacked the deck so heavily in his favor that he wasn’t living up to his pound for pound status. Former pound for pound greats would take on the best possible opponent, but not Mayweather. He took on the biggest reward for the least risk.
Carlos Baldomir could not beat Floyd Mayweather if they duct taped him to a ring post. Oscar De La Hoya was shot, Ricky Hatton didn’t have the skill set to worry him, Juan Manuel Marquez was too small and didn’t have the style to even test him, and Shane Mosley had nothing left. The hope of the boxing world was that he would take on Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino powerhouse that has violently taken the #2 spot on the pound for pound list, and some argue that he is actually the best in the world, above Floyd. Whatever the case, the two have not met, and it has frustrated the boxing world.
Since we were waiting forever for a fight that was not going to happen, Floyd and Manny moved on. Pacquiao rights regularly as Floyd is relatively inactive. That inactivity and lack of real dangerous opposition is just the chance that Victor Ortiz needs to pull the biggest upset in recent boxing history.
Ortiz began his career with fire, and was drawing immediate comparisons to Fernando Vargas because of his aggression and look. Things became too easy for him, and that would cost him in 2009, when he pounced on a fellow slugger, Marcos Maidana. It was a war and, in the end, Ortiz would quit. It was a wake up call for him and a moment in time that was probably a good thing.
Victor would re-apply himself, and begin to rebuild. He defeated former champions Nate Campbell and Vivian Harris, and should have gotten the nod over top contender, Lamont Peterson, but would settle for a draw. In April, he showed how much heart he truly had in his victory over Andre Berto to win the title, which led to this huge opportunity.
When this bout was initially announced, my reaction was similar to most “experts” in the world of boxing. I quickly picked Floyd, but after a closer examination, there is plenty of scenarios that could lead to an Ortiz victory.
THE SOUTHPAW PROBLEM
As good as Floyd is, he tends to have some issues with southpaws. DeMarcus Corley badly stunned him and Zab Judah knocked him down and hurt him on several occasions. The straight left hand and right hook are two shots that Floyd isn’t as elusive against as he is the incoming of an orthodox fighter. If Ortiz can find the blind spot and land, he can knock Floyd out.
TAKING IT EASY
Ortiz is not as good of a fighter as Shane Mosley or Oscar De La Hoya, but he does have something over them. He is in his prime and will be aggressive against Floyd. The layoffs from the game combined with the fighters that he opted to face, may hurt him on Saturday. Ortiz is the most dangerous fighter he’s faced since Zab Judah in 2006. His timing may be off and his attitude may be wrong for this fight.
LOOKING BEYOND ORTIZ
There is a sense that Mayweather isn’t taking Ortiz seriously. Some would argue the mere fact that Ortiz is an opponent shows that Floyd is taking him less than seriously. The fighter that beat Berto was a relentless beast and expect an even better monster taking on Floyd on Saturday. If the going gets tough, can Floyd fight off a genuine welterweight with power in both hands and fire in his eyes?
Ortiz isn’t without his fair share of problems either. In fact, he has to solve the toughest puzzle in boxing. The problems that are foreseeable are the following…
UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF FLOYD
There is a misconception that Floyd Mayweather, JR., cannot punch. He is actually a very good puncher that opts to play it safe and walk to the scorecards rather than go for the kill. Roy Jones, JR., was notorious for the same thing. If Ortiz runs right in and throws caution to the wind, he could end up on the floor or knocked out. It is absolutely possible.
BIG STAGE FRIGHT
Ortiz has never been on a stage this big before. He is sharing the ring with a boxer that is all over the news no matter what he does. He is facing a superstar in the main event of a pay per view sure to be seen by millions. We have seen many fighters freeze under the lights. Michael Grant is a good example of that when he faced Lennox Lewis for the title on a pay per view. If he allows it to get to him, it is possible that he would not perform well. This is a big “if” going in.
Against Lamont Peterson, Ortiz struggled and got frustrated and began just going through the motions. He allowed Peterson to survive and take the fight to the cards and to a draw. Without the big promotion behind him, that would have been a big setback in his career. Mayweather is a far better fighter than Peterson. If Ortiz allows Floyd to control the fight, he’ll never be in it.
I’ve only gone against Floyd Mayweather, JR., on two occasions. I predicted that Diego Corrales would defeat him, and thought that Zab Judah would be too quick, and both times I have been proven wrong. Perhaps the third time will be the charm as I am picking Ortiz to defeat Mayweather by close decision. Ortiz is sharp and has that look that fighters will get when they are going in with a “refuse to lose” mindset. Floyd doesn’t appear to be taking this fight seriously and when you put it all together, there is a lot of room for an upset win. Ortiz should be able to survive the incoming and not get discouraged and will being pushing Floyd around, using aggression and the straight left to control the majority of the rounds. Ortiz will have some scares along the way but he will weather the storm and walk away winning a close and possibly split decision win.