Just when I thought we’d never see him in the boxing ring again, Floyd Mayweather Jr has suddenly announced that he will take on WBC Welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz on 17 September 2011.
Bogged down by various legal dramas, the last thing I expected was for Mayweather to declare that he was ready to step back in the ring. He hasn’t fought since defeating Shane Mosley in May 2010, meaning it will be a 16 month lay off for him.
Two ways to look at this. The first is that Mayweather is needs money but doesn’t want to take on the man everyone wants to see him fight: Manny Pacquiao.
(I won’t go into the history of it all, but essentially negotiations between the two fighters have broken down twice already over additional drug testing procedures, and may or may not have broken down a third or fourth time according to Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum when Mayweather allegedly tried to price himself out by asking for $100 million. Mayweather’s camp denied further negotiations ever took place, though third parties contradict this denial. There is also the additional issue of Pacquiao suing Mayweather and his family for defamation for suggesting that Pacquiao is on performance enhancing drugs.)
Mayweather’s decision to take on Ortiz is a curious one because Arum has stated all along that if Mayweather comes to the table, he will be Pacquiao’s number one choice. No one else matters. This means that if Mayweather really wanted to fight Pacquiao all he had to do was pick up the phone after Pacquiao’s win over Mosley last month, and the fight would have been made already.
Instead, Mayweather waited until Pacquiao signed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time on 12 November 2011 before announcing a fight of his own.
More interestingly, Mayweather has refused to fight Pacquiao allegedly because of completely unsubstantiated PED accusations, and yet the man he has chosen to fight, Victor Ortiz, was recently implicated in PEDs by the man he had just beaten, Andre Berto. Of course, Berto’s assertions were also completely unsubstantiated, but if his suspicions of Pacquiao were sufficient to destroy the megafight, then why not Ortiz too?
The second and more optimistic view is that Mayweather is taking on Ortiz as a tune up for Manny Pacquiao in 2012. Mayweather undoubtedly will want to shake off some rust after the long lay off, and Ortiz just happens to be a young, strong stud AND a southpaw, something which Pacquiao is also.
I sure hope the second view is the right one and the potentially biggest fight of all time will happen next year!
Apart from Pacquiao, everyone just assumes that Mayweather will win no matter who he fights. But Ortiz is a dangerous opponent, coming off a solid but close decision win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April. He has a strong 29-2-2 (22KOs) record and as mentioned above, is a southpaw, and Mayweather has tended to struggle more against southpaws.
Furthermore, Mayweather is now 34 years old and might be slowing down. We won’t really know for sure until we see him in the ring, given how long it’s been, but it is possible. On the other hand, Ortiz is just 24 and appears to have hit his prime after the brutal battle against Berto.
I’d still say the risks are low because of the experience and skill factors, but just like Marquez has a chance of unseating Pacquiao, Ortiz could also shock the world against Mayweather. For the sake of Mayweather-Pacquiao happening next year, I hope both men can win.
PS: I mentioned in an earlier post the Marquez was to take on David Diaz as a tune up before Pacquiao, but this fight has fallen through because of financial considerations.