I'm not here to tell you that Floyd Mayweather is going to break down and dominate Victor Ortiz, and win a decision in the ballpark of 10-2 in rounds. That's not exactly a "bold" prediction. That's the expectation and the pre-fight odds (ballpark of 6-1 in favor of Mayweather) back that up.
It also wouldn't be bold and fearless of me to tell you that when Floyd wins, you can expect him to thank God and Al Haymon. That's like saying Larry Merchant will be wearing a tuxedo and things will go exactly how Manny Steward thought they were going to go. Some things are a given.
Max Kellerman is turning into a great commentator for HBO and a surprisingly worthy successor—one day—to the vast legacy of the great Larry Merchant. But he does have a knack for hyperbolic comparisons. Of Andre Berto: "We used to compare him to Sugar Ray Leonard...he now has to settle for Meldrick Taylor."
Now Mayweather is no Leonard and Ortiz sure as hell ain't Duran, but I bring up their famous first encounter because I think tactically that's what Ortiz needs to do. Cut off the ring, constant aggression, get physical and tough and force Mayweather to stand and trade.
Easier said than done, but if Ortiz does find any success, look for Kellerman to pull out a colossally more significant historical event for a comparison.
Some say that Mayweather will destroy Ortiz, put a clinic on him and discard whatever's left of the bum's career in the trash receptacle on his way out.
I disagree whole-heartedly. This is a win-win situation for Ortiz. Beating Mayweather would be enormous and lead to huge paydays and possible super-stardom. But even a loss puts him in a much better situation than he was a year ago. Especially a competitive loss.
Ortiz would be a great test for Amir Khan, who's looking to make a splash at welterweight. Rematches with Maidana or Berto would be welcome, as the first editions were both great fights. And someday Ortiz has to settle his long-simmering blood feud with Brandon Rios.
Ortiz has plenty to look forward to beyond Mayweather, win or lose.
Floyd Mayweather has barely been hurt in his professional career. He's almost never been knocked down. He suffered a flash knockdown around a decade ago, and of course the infamous glove-touch against Zab Judah in 2006, which was ruled a slip. Other than that, he hasn't come close to tasting the canvas.
Shane Mosley caught him with a clean right hand and wobbled him in the second round of Mayweather's last fight, in May of 2010. Mayweather held and recovered, and the rest of the fight turned into a routine domination.
Ortiz carries known power, having sent pretty much all of his opponents to the mat. Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson all got up and fought on, either to win or go the distance. So I don't envision Mayweather, a smart defensive fighter with great stamina and endurance, getting knocked out. But I do think there's a good chance that he gets caught with a punch and, at the minimum, loses balance.
Ortiz throws a lot of punches and Mayweather's legs and reflexes haven't gotten any younger. At some point he will be caught, and I think early in the fight Ortiz will do it. Mayweather can bounce up and recover, but expect an early wake-up call for the undefeated aspiring legend.
I have a bad feeling that Mayweather won't be able to move around the ring as well as the general perception seems to be. Why? Because he hasn't had to do it in four years.
I'm not saying he needs to scramble to win this fight. He's a crafty defender with ridiculous hand-speed and possibly quite capable enough to counter-punch Ortiz all night, without having to rely on the wheels. But look at the last few opponents: Mosley, Marquez and Hatton.
In Mosley's case, Mayweather's superior reflexes and counter-punching ability allowed him to beat Mosley to the punch all night. Marquez and Hatton were smaller, slower men, and Mayweather could go toe-to-toe and avoid trouble easily.
Against Ortiz, you would think Mayweather's best strategy would be to circle the outside and try to negate the bigger man's power. At the age of 34, is Mayweather still the world-class athlete that should, in theory, easily elude his young pursuer?
I'm betting against it.
Against a guy with the timing and hand-speed of Mayweather, the many deficiencies of Ortiz' defense will likely be exposed. While on the attack, Ortiz leaves himself vulnerable to getting countered and Mayweather is a master of that art.
Quick enough to dodge and counter-strike, Mayweather has torn apart straight-forward brawler types in the past. I think Ortiz has a lot more going for him than most of the guys who Mayweather has fought, but he still has issues with defense and footwork.
If Maidana and Berto could find a way in, I'm quite positive Floyd will too.
Well, since I've already predicted both men will go down, it's no surprise that I think it's going to be a much better fight than most people.
I don't think Mayweather can stick it out against Ortiz. He will have to fight him. I don't think Mayweather can hurt Ortiz either. Knock him down, stun him, sure. But get him out of there? No way. Ortiz has a tougher beard than people give him credit for.
After eating monster shots from Maidana and walking through Berto's punches, I think he can hang in there with Floyd for the 12 rounds. It's just a matter of how effective can he be, especially early.
If Ortiz can sustain a strong start through four to six rounds, at the very least that puts pressure on Floyd to keep fighting and will keep things entertaining. I think it will be about the seventh round when Lampley throws out the "fight of the year" suggestion, after both men have been down and it appears to be anyone's fight.
When Ortiz fought Lamont Peterson, he seemed to back off in the last half of the fight and allowed Peterson to scrap his way back to a draw on the cards. Against Berto, Ortiz found the winning formula by maintaining a frenetic pace to the very end. Berto hung tough but was out hustled and out fought.
I think this fight goes the distance as well, one way or another. I think Ortiz will hurt Mayweather and knock him down. He will likely get caught with a few counters and get bruised up himself. But I think the action will subside a bit in the late rounds, with Mayweather trying to methodically outbox Ortiz and Ortiz circling the ring looking to pepper Mayweather with combos.
Because of the early action, both guys play more cautious and the "fight of the year" candidate will turn into just a very good fight.
I think the over/under for how many times the name "Pacquiao" will be uttered from an HBO commentator on September 17 is approximately 50. I'm taking the over with 100.
Pacquiao is fighting on the network in November, concluding his trilogy with Juan Manuel Marquez. He has become the "elephant in the room" at any Mayweather fight, presumed to be the only truly worthy opponent and vice-versa.
So throughout the action, expect Pacquiao to be thoroughly discussed as a potential future match-up for Mayweather or Ortiz, and expect Jim Lampley to shower Pac-man with an appropriate amount of man-love. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Since I'm going to go out on a major limb with my final forecast, maybe I can salvage something by nailing the under-card fights.
I like Josesito Lopez in a mild upset of Jessie Vargas. It should be an action-packed fight for as long as it lasts, but I'd be surprised if it goes the distance.
Saul Alvarez will easily handle Alfonso Gomez, the gaps in skill too much for Gomez to overcome. I think this fight gets stopped somewhere in the middle to late rounds.
Unfortunately, I think Lucas Matthysse against Erik Morales will be the mismatch and disappointment of the night. Morales is one of my all-time favorites, so maybe this is just a reverse-jinx in the hopes the wizard from Tijuana can pull one more rabbit from his hat. But I think Matthysse will overwhelm Morales and take him out in the first half of the fight.
There's several things swaying me toward Ortiz in this fight. Mayweather's sixteen month lay-off is at the top of that list. Ortiz is young and in his prime. He moves well around the ring and packs power in an aggressive, stalking style.
Mayweather has relied so much on superior fitness, athleticism and reflexes throughout his career, as well as the quickness to get out of trouble and see punches coming. His greatest strengths are the ones that can't be taught, the natural gifts that separate the Mayweather's and Roy Jones' from the class below. And those are the ones with the shortest half-life. The candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long.
Eventually, Mayweather will lose a split-second and in the fight game, that's all it takes. I think Ortiz finds him all night and eventually wears him down. Mayweather will have his moments. I do think it's going to be a great fight and will answer all of the questions about how much Floyd has left in the tank—and how good Ortiz is or can be. This will come down to aggressiveness vs. accuracy, but because of Ortiz' proven chin against bigger punchers, I think he avoids serious damage from Floyd's counters.
There's going to be a lot of Ortiz flurries that draw big reactions from the crowd, even when Mayweather blocks or rolls off of most of them. But the biggest thing for me is that I don't think Mayweather can avoid Ortiz all night—and I think Ortiz can walk through a lot of his punches.
I believe Mayweather will show signs of his age and Ortiz ekes out a decision in the ballpark of 7-5, with a couple knockdowns both ways. I think it will be very close and probably debatable, not dissimilar to Mayweather's first fight with Jose Luis Castillo.
The older man has diminished just enough to let Ortiz be effective. That's my gut. If it happens, the biggest casualty will be the super-fight with Manny Pacquiao, but maybe a new force will emerge in Victor Ortiz.
Or maybe I'm dead-wrong and Mayweather exploits and eviscerates Ortiz in a lop-sided fashion, to prove that he's still at the top of his game and arguably the best fighter in the sport. That's why they fight the fights.