Floyd Mayweather is 41-0. Undefeated. Some question the validity of that record, due to a close call here and there and a drop-off in opponents faced, but the fact remains that he has yet to be beaten.
Victor Ortiz is the latest to try and tarnish “Money” Mayweather’s spotless record. A talented and powerful young southpaw, Ortiz is fresh off of a win over formerly undefeated prospect Andre Berto. He quieted many accusations that he had no heart after an embarrassing TKO loss to Marcos Maidana—in which Ortiz flat out stated that he quit—and a more recent lackluster draw with LaMont Peterson.
Over the course of those 12 rounds with Berto, Ortiz took some extremely heavy shots from the quick and heavy-handed Berto and was on the canvas several times. But he dropped Berto more often than Berto dropped him, and carried his stamina more effectively into the later rounds to scratch out a hard-fought, grueling decision win.
That right there should give prospective Ortiz backers a bit of a pause. Berto is an electric talent, but his boxing skills are extremely lacking. He’s an athletic brawler, winging power shots as hard as he can and taking what he has to in return. Ortiz impressed because he showed a bigger fighting heart than many, including myself, gave him credit for. He fought like a man possessed and was simply able to out-man him on that night. Mayweather will not let him do that.
I have seen two fighters effectively pressure Mayweather, both in different ways. Jose Luis Castillo was much bigger and stronger and simply bullied Floyd to the ropes, where he had as much success as anyone has ever had. But Mayweather has shown a cyborg-like ability to adjust and was able to keep his range and win the rematch much more convincingly.
Ricky Hatton, who has recently been much-maligned to the point of underrating, showed tremendous natural ability and foot-speed, making Mayweather uncomfortable by matching him step-for-step. Unfortunately for the Hitman, Mayweather was infinitely more skilled both inside and out. He scored one of the few highlight-reel KOs of his career when he sent Hatton crashing into the turnbuckle with a laser-sharp left hook.
Ortiz is going to have mix and match those strategies a little. Mayweather is a very strong welterweight, but Ortiz’s strength in the Berto fight seemed almost supernatural. He was bull rushing his way to the ropes and hammering away inside. But Mayweather has seen that before, he knows what to do with the more powerful opponent. He can turn and hold on the inside to neutralize power.
But his legs are not what they once were. He can move around the ring from time to time, but for the most part chooses to stay in the pocket and rely on his spectacular reflexes and technical skill to keep him safe.
That is where an Ortiz supporter has to put all his faith. He is a very heavy puncher. The noise that his punches make is like a lead pipe. And Floyd has shown a slight vulnerability to the straight left hand in the past, having been rocked by Zab Judah in the early rounds of their fight.
Victor Ortiz could have success early on. I can see him driving Mayweather to the ropes and landing a sturdy straight left or two. But if Floyd can fight through the ring rust–and he has shown that ability before–I think that will be it. He will make all the subtle adjustments he needs to, whether he has to tie up on the inside like he did against Hatton, moving more effectively like he did against Castillo.
Once Mayweather has your game figured out, that is it. You can forget about winning rounds. Ortiz will have to do significant damage early and hope to break his man down with superior strength, softening him up for a possible later round TKO. I cannot see Ortiz’s technique improving enough so that he can win a decision. But if that happens, it would mean that Mayweather’s un-retirement was poorly considered more than anything.
Final Pick: Mayweather Unanimous Decision 12 Ortiz.