A dozen things to look out for before, during and after the fight
By: Mike Sloan So Floyd Mayweather will finally climb back through the ropes of a boxing ring to demonstrate his fistic skills that are otherworldly. Without going into the typical palaver of trying to sound intelligent and thought provoking (see: cliché), anybody who is even remotely familiar with the Sweet Science understands Mayweather’s defense, speed, angles, footwork, etc. is better than virtually everybody else in the sport.
Enter Victor Ortiz, a proud Mexican-American brawler who has suddenly become one of the greatest fighters of this generation. Or, rather, that’s what one who doesn’t really know Ortiz would think after reading some of these lead-in columns from various writers. Funny how one entertaining fight with another young, studly welterweight can alter one’s image and eradicate the ghost of embarrassment before those who don’t know Ortiz are alerted of boxing’s worst kept secret.
Obviously Ortiz is a fighter who is always fun to watch. He’s got good speed, possesses raw punching power and, most importantly, the dude likes to engage in toe-to-toe scraps. He’s also a helluva good kid. Some “experts” liken Ortiz to the kid with the best style to foil Floyd’s legacy and turn his unblemished professional record into tatters.
All the stuff leading up to any big fight is almost as fun as the fight itself. Sometimes an opinion or two can engage debate, sometimes it can enrage myopic fans, sometimes it can make perfect sense. Too many people tend to look for the all the wrong things when a major fight’s buildup is reaching it’s crescendo like speed vs. power, style vs. style, chin vs. fist, experience vs. youth. All those hot topics are fine and dandy but they are all the wrong things to look for in a major fight.
Below are the only twelve things to look out for regarding Mayweather- Ortiz. Some of these crucial aspects of the fight occur before the first bell sounds, some during the fight itself and, of course, some immediately following the contest. Get your pencils and paper out because these are what to expect for Mayweather vs. Ortiz:
1 “Experts” predicting Mayweather will finally be tested against a prime, hungry lion: It’s happened countless times to Mayweather throughout the latter stages of his career. Since he’s so polarizing and plenty of fight fans loathe him, they sometimes cling to anybody who signs on the dotted line to fight him. First it was Diego Corrales, and then it was Jose Luis Castillo. Later on down the line it was Ricky Hatton. These guys were all expected to be the great equalizer against Mayweather, somebody to knock that smug grin off his face and finally obliterate that “O” in his loss column.
Ortiz is no different. Though he’s not unbeaten, Ortiz is a solid scrapper with a hard punch. Many feel he’s the guy who can “take it to Mayweather” and knock him out. Some have argued that Floyd has never fought a young, hungry lion in his prime until now and since this is the first “real” test of his career, “Money May” will not be able to handle it and Ortiz will pull off the unthinkable upset.
Obviously Mayweather hasn’t always fought the best available fighters out there, but to suggest that he’s never taken on anybody who is considered elite while in their prime is ludicrous.
2 Many an “expert” and fan proclaiming that this will be a great fight/war: This is another one that always elicits a chuckle. Ever since Mayweather became a household name and one of the most hated sports figures of this past decade, every one of his mega fights are predicted to be the second coming of Hagler-Hearns. Naturally, the shrewd promoting of his personality and with the seething animosity fights fans have against him, the desire to see him get his head caved in tends to blur fans’ (and some media members’) sense of reality.
For whatever reason, guys like Zab Judah, Juan Manuel Marquez, Hatton, Oscar de la Hoya, Shane Mosley, etc were going to “make Floyd fight,” thus leading to an epic blood and guts war. That’s never happened in a Mayweather. Ever. He’s far too slick and much too intelligent inside the ring for that to happen. This fight will be no different. Granted, Ortiz might make a few scattered moments in the fight thrilling because of his punch output, but for anybody who predicts that this fight will be a candidate for Fight of the Year, there is a bridge in Brooklyn waiting to be purchased. Go buy it.
3 The mainstream sports monkeys, suddenly paying attention to boxing, start asking if this is the fight that can bring boxing back to life: Yep, it’s already happened on ESPN and in a few other mainstream columns. The answer is no. This is not the fight that will save boxing. Neither was Mayweather-De la Hoya, neither was any major fight of the past ten years. And, sadly, Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao will not be the fight that saves boxing. The only way for boxing to be “saved” and brought back a level of respectability is for the sport’s biggest and best promoters need to get their heads out of their collective asses and (well, that’s another column altogether)…
4 Casual bettors, after having watched the marathon re-airing of 24/7: Mayweather-Ortiz and the apparent negative vibes from Team Mayweather, believe he’s unfocused and distracted, and rush the nearest sportsbooks to drop their loot on Ortiz: It could also be the enticing wagering line that shows Ortiz as a massive underdog, but there will be an influx of money on Ortiz right up until they step into the ring. That’s a guarantee.
5 The National Anthem being butchered….again: This is an even bigger guarantee than item #4. It never fails, never, and it’s unknown as to why this keeps happening. The promoters (Golden Boy, Don King, Top Rank, etc) always have this terrific idea to hire some whiny singer (usually always a Grammy-nominated entertainer) because it’ll look great for TV. However, when he or she grabs the mic (after, of course, the hired star to sing Mexico, England, or the Phillippines’ anthem knocks it out of the park), it’s an instant disaster. The performer will always, always make the Star Spangled Banner into the ultimate “look at me” moment and change the entire song from how it’s supposed to be sung to adding/changing the words. It’s a disgrace every time and, sadly, it’ll never stop. Why not just scrap the entire thing altogether? It’d be better to have nothing at all than some loser completely butcher America’s nation Anthem.
6 Floyd dominates Ortiz early and often: Ortiz will quickly become frustrated and confused. Mayweather will play it safe and make Ortiz look oafish early on. His speed and defense will bedazzle Ortiz and Floyd’s dominance will rear its head very early in the fight. After a few rounds, it’ll be a question of if Mayweather will try to take him out or if he’ll box his ears off for twelve rounds just to get the work in. It won’t be pretty; it’ll be more one-sided than his duel with Marquez.
7 The “bite his ears” guy returns… Again: Hands down the most obnoxious, annoying twit at every fight event is this guy. For anybody who’s been at a boxing, kickboxing or MMA event has sat near this moron or at the very least has heard his cascading mating call. Fans watching the fight on TV might not be able to hear him but trust this column: he’s there. It’ll happened sometime in the third or fourth round when Ortiz will be trying to figure out when to punch. Since he won’t be letting his hands go at will, he’ll just stalk Mayweather, who will be giving him more angles than a protractor. The pro-Ortiz crowd, now silent from the boxing clinic inside the ring, will have grown almost completely silent and that’s when this jackass makes his move.
Out of the silence and behind the slaps of leather from Mayweather’s jabs, you’ll hear the trademark shout of, “Bite his ears!” He’ll be drunk, possibly sporting a rad mullet and he’ll be giggling and looking around him, begging for laughter and attention. Obviously his daddy never hugged him as a tike so he covets the attention of others like a crocodile covets fisherman. Some sheep will laugh with him in his “please give me look at me!” moment but most people will want him doused with beer and electricity.
8 Ortiz trying hard but being stopped, thus losing his “quitter” moniker: Ortiz will be completely dominated and overmatched but he will not stop trying to take Floyd out. He’ll walk into hundreds punches and he’ll make Mayweather fight his way out of pickle jars here and there, but his inexperience and overall lacking skillset (compared to Mayweather) will cost him. He might become lacerated and his face will be lumpy and gross. However, unlike in his fight with Marcos Maidana, he will not quit. In fact, his corner will throw in the towel between rounds eight and nine, but he’ll vehemently protest. The phantom of the Maidana fight will finally be exorcised and his gutsy effort will nab him thousands of new fans.
9 Fans and media clamor for Floyd to fight Pacquiao, but Floyd will dance around the demands and play the Olympic-style testing card: After the one-sided victory over Ortiz, the immediate questions from Larry Merchant to Mayweather will be about him next taking on Pacquiao. Mayweather will instantly go into third person mode, dance around the question and use the ol’ “If he want to fight the best, he got to take the test” routine. It’s old, cliché and annoying at this point. Fans will then gnaw on their shirt collars in November, hoping that Pacquiao doesn’t get beaten by Marquez a third time (you read it right; Marquez should’ve had his hand raised in both meetings). Then, provided Pacquiao wins in November, Mayweather will again use the ol’ “If he want to fight the best, he got to take the test” routine.
10 The same “experts” then recanting their pick by claiming that once again Mayweather fought a hand-picked opponent, starting with idle chatter in the press room: Immediately following the fight and starting with random conversations in the press room before the post-fight press conference begins, many of the same experts who predicted that Ortiz would provide a grueling challenge for Mayweather and could pull off the upset will miraculously become geniuses. Yep, it’s happened thousands of times in the past and it will never stop. Once a so-called expert gets a pick that he couldn’t have been farther off from will suddenly have 20/20 hindsight vision and forget that he said how great an opponent Ortiz would be and that the win just proves “yet again!” that Floyd just hand picks his opponents and still “has yet” to fight a young, elite fighter in his prime. You know who you are and from this point forward, you’ll be called to the carpet.
11 Pacquiao backers claiming Floyd is scared: Since Mayweather dodged the questions about fighting Pacquiao, the supporters of the Filipino bomber (and detractors of the Grand Rapids product) will instantaneously begin the ol’ “Floyd is scared of Pacquiao” routine. That, too, is old. Hell; Jeanne Calment thinks that accusation is old.
12 Hopes and prayers that Marquez doesn’t pull off the upset in November: Pacquiao at this stage in his career should take care of business against Marquez in their quasi rubber match. However, since a Mayweather-Pacquiao duel is “the fight that will save boxing,” virtually nobody wants to see the Mexican win. People won’t publicly say it, but the boxing world will collectively hope and pray that “Pac Man” beats Marquez.
So, folks, take some serious notes about these twelve things that will happen. We’ll return in the near future to see how accurate this column is.
You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19