Fight Prediction: Mayweather vs Ortiz

September 14, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

On September 17 in Las Vegas, undefeated 34-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr (41-0,  25KOs) will return from a 16-month lay off take on 24-year-old southpaw brawler Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22KOs) for Ortiz’s WBC Welterweight belt.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Floyd Mayweather Jr is entertaining.  Some would say more out of the ring than in it, though true fans of the sport can’t help but be in awe of his phenomenal ability.  And sure, Mayweather is not fighting the man everyone wants him to fight, Manny Pacquiao, but Victor Ortiz does make a very interesting ‘tune up’ for the Pacman — if the megafight is to finally take place next year as recent reports would suggest.

In the meantime, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Ortiz is a dangerous young opponent coming off a career reviving win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April 2011 — his most satisfying win since being stopped by Marcos Maidana in 2009 where many believed a badly cut Ortiz had quit against his heavy-hitting opponent.  But does he stand a chance against someone in the class of Floyd Mayweather Jr?

Personally, I’m kind of torn here.  I’d love to see someone knock Mayweather off his pedestal, but at the same time that could spell the end of Mayweather-Pacquiao — and after all these years of waiting, that would be a monumental disappointment.

That said, the probability of Ortiz pulling off the upset is incredibly slim.  On paper, at least, or if you’ve ever watched the two men in action, Mayweather should punish Ortiz and give him a boxing lesson all night long.  Mayweather is simply too skilled, too slick, too fast, too experienced, and too defensively sound for someone as raw as Ortiz.  On top of that, Mayweather seldom gets hit flush, and when he does, he has survived and come back stronger.  His ability to adjust mid-fight is second to none.

But as the saying goes, anything can happen in boxing, and Ortiz at least appears to have the weapons and temperament to trouble Mayweather, whose form after 16 months off could potentially be a little off.

First of all, Ortiz is 10 years younger than Mayweather and, judging from his last fight, is in the form and shape of his life.  He’s like a caged animal that has been released after years in captivity and has this fearless attitude about him, like he just wants to tear through everyone in front of him.  His motivation and determination is through the roof right now.

Secondly, Ortiz is physically stronger than Mayweather and visibly bigger.  At 5’9″ he is an inch taller and has arms like tree trunks.  His thick body is also built like a brick house.  His punches can do serious damage and it looks like he’ll be able to take a punch much better than he used to.

Thirdly, Ortiz may not be as fast as Mayweather but he does have decent speed.  I’m not sure if it’s enough to bother Mayweather but it could be a significant factor in the fight if Mayweather underestimates it.

Fourthly, Ortiz is a southpaw, and we’ve all heard about Floyd’s troubles with southpaws throughout the years (Corley, Judah, etc).  The conventional response to that assertion is that Floyd has beaten every southpaw he has faced, but it must give Ortiz encouragement that Floyd has more difficulty with southpaws than orthodox fighters, primarily because his celebrated shoulder roll technique doesn’t work as well against southpaws.  It has to count for something, right?

Another thing Floyd is said to have problems with is a strong, stiff jab, which Ortiz also has.  He just has to learn to utilise it consistently throughout the fight.

On the flip side, Mayweather has not fought for 16 months, not since his May 2010 fight against Sugar Shane Mosley which he dominated after a major scare in round 2 where Mosley rocked him with a couple of big right hands.  Before that, Mayweather dominated Pacquiao’s next opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez, in September 2009.  And before that, a KO against Ricky Hatton in December 2007.  That’s three opponents in 45 months!  Yes, Mayweather won all those fights, but the inactivity, combined with his age (34) could come back to bite him in a hurry.

Mayweather also has brittle hands and hasn’t shown genuine KO power for quite some time, which could allow Ortiz to walk through some punches in order to land his own.  And if he does, will Mayweather be able to withstand the onslaught?  As the fight against Mosley suggested, if a big power shot lands in the right place, Mayweather can be hurt.

Lastly, there’s the distractions.  We all know about the Mayweather family’s legal troubles, and now the first episode of the Mayweather-Ortiz 24/7 series (one of the best yet, by the way) has revealed another rift between father and son.  Junior insists it doesn’t bother him at all, but his face suggests a different story.

Do all of these things add up to an upset in the cards?  Possible, but unlikely.  I’d put Ortiz’s chances of pulling off the improbable win at around 10-15%, and he’ll most probably have to do it via a stunning knockout.  He’ll have to be aggressive but patient, use that stiff jab of his to control the pace and pounce on Mayweather and not give him a chance to dictate.  If Ortiz goes in looking to brawl his way to a win he’ll become the perfect target for Mayweather’s counters.  If he remains disciplined and uses controlled aggression he could shock the world.

The more likely scenario is one where Ortiz comes out with guns blazing, takes it to Mayweather in the first couple of rounds, maybe even win them…before Mayweather figures out Ortiz’s style and schools him the rest of the way en route to a clear unanimous victory or even a late round KO.  I am still suspicious of Mayweather’s power at this stage of his career so I am going to predict a comfortable Mayweather UD.

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Mayweather to take on Ortiz; Pacquiao tune-up?

June 8, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

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!

The Matchup

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.

Who Should Pacquiao Fight Next: Mosley, Marquez or Berto?

December 16, 2010 in Boxing

Who will Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach take on next?

Pound-for-pound champ Manny Pacquiao has announced that his next fight will be on 7 May 2011.  With Floyd Mayweather Jr most likely looking to fight guys trying to ‘American History X’ his ass in the prison showers (if convicted of abusing his ex-girlfriend and children), Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has narrowed Pacquiao’s next opponent down to three guys: Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Andre Berto.

That’s it.  These three, and no one else.  So don’t think about any other fantasy fights (eg Sergio Martinez) because they’re not going to happen on 7 May.  Arum has presented three term sheets (one for each potential opponent) to Pacquiao and it will ultimately be Pacquiao’s choice.  It’s been reported that an decision will likely be made by Friday US time.

Let’s break down each of these opponents, what they bring to the table, and how likely the fight will eventuate.

(to read on, click on ‘more…’)

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Pacquiao to take on Antonio Margarito!

July 25, 2010 in Boxing

It’s official: Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr is dead — at least for 2010.

After the negotiations for the biggest fight of the decade between the pound-for-pound champs fell through (again), it has now been decided that Pacquiao will now take on disgraced cheater Antonio Margarito, preferably in Las Vegas on 13 November 2010 (provided Margarito can get licensed, or else it may have to be in Mexico).  The fight will take place at 154 pounds, giving Pacquiao the opportunity to win a world title in an unprecedented 8th weight class.

Look, boxing fans around the world have every right to be furious with this outcome.  I don’t want to go over this again (read here) but the entire Pacquiao-Mayweather thing has become a total farce.  First it was the drug testing, then it was the gagged negotiations that appeared to be finalising, then it was the “deadline”, and then it was the denial that negotiations ever took place.  Whatever the reason for the fight between the two best boxers in the world not being made, it doesn’t matter anymore — they should all be ashamed of themselves.

But it’s not just the disappointing fact that Pacquiao-Mayweather isn’t happening that has me all riled up.  It’s the fact that Pacquiao will now be taking on Margarito instead.

Antonio Margarito?  Really?  The cheater?

It’s slightly more interesting than the alternative, which is a Pacquiao-Cotto rematch, simply because Pacquiao has already shredded Cotto, and Margarito (5’11” with 73″ reach) is so much bigger than Pacquiao (5’6.5″ with 67″ reach).  But Margarito doesn’t even deserve to be in the ring after being discovered carrying illegal hand wraps in his bout with Shane Mosley last year.  And do I even need to mention that Mosley knocked out Margarito in that fight and that since then the cheater has not looked anywhere close to the feared fighter he was back when he battered Cotto into submission (probably because he was also cheating back then)?  Oh, and Margarito can’t even get licensed to fight in the US after the hand wrap debacle?

I believe despite the size difference, the matchup will still heavily be in Pacquiao’s favour (provided he hasn’t lost a step or any focus since being elected to Congress) simply because of his overwhelming advantage in hand and foot speed.  Margarito is the plodding type, which plays right into the Filipino buzzsaw’s hands.  As long as Pacquiao can avoid being tagged by a big shot (he proved against Cotto he could take a few hits), he’ll be able to slide in and out of range and blast Margacheato into a beehive.  If he couldn’t take Shane Mosley’s speed (and telegraphed overhand right), there’s no reason to think he could manage Pacquiao’s.

Nevertheless, let’s face it — the only reason these two are facing each other is because of the cowardice of Floyd Mayweather Jr and the greed of the repulsive Bob Arum of Top Rank.

Mayweather was in the perfect position to take on Pacquiao (who had apparently agreed to blood testing procedures that were “acceptable” to the Mayweather camp, assuming those negotiations took place at all) but wimped out without offering any logical reason or explanation.

Okay, so Mayweather is out of the picture (at least for now) — but that doesn’t mean there’s no worthy opponent out there for Pacquiao.  Arum only offered two alternatives — Cotto and Margarito — just because they are also promoted by Top Rank, which means greedy Arum gets to keep all the money in house.

Arum offered a bunch of totally lame and transparent excuses for Pacquiao not even considering taking on another fighter (which really includes any top boxer between 140 and 154 pounds — Timothy Bradley, Andre Berto, Paul Williams and heck, even Shane Mosley), but we all know the true reason Pacquiao is not taking on someone more worthy.  If Pacquiao can fight the virtually unknown Joshua Clottey, then he can take on any of those guys mentioned above and make it a bigger fight than against Margarito or Cotto.

That said, I’m still going to be watching on November 13.  Darn it.

Looks like Pacquiao-Mayweather may never happen

July 19, 2010 in Boxing

Here’s a quick update on those still wondering whether the megabout between pound-for-pound number 1 and 2 Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr will ever happen.

The answer: probably no.

The second round of negotiations has broken down, and with Mayweather being non-commital about fighting Pacquiao and Pacquiao being tied down by his commitments as a Filipino congressman, it appears unlikely that the two men will ever step into the same ring.

(click on ‘more…’ to read this post)

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