Victor Ortiz is a nice guy. He's a good fighter. He showed a lot of heart in his last fight, and he's always been fun to watch.
If Floyd Mayweather, Jr. isn't fighting Manny Pacquiao, then at least Ortiz is a feel-good story and a guy people will want to see. I'm happy for him to have gotten this opportunity, and I believe he'll do his best to make the most of it, and he will come out ready to fight.
But Ortiz won't be the person who hands Mayweather his first professional defeat.
I understand why people want to believe it's possible. Mayweather has made us want him to lose. We want to believe that at some point, his bravado and arrogance will lead him astray, and Ortiz is the kind of good guy that can do that.
I also know that "Ortiz can beat Mayweather" is great fodder for debate, and makes the most of a fight that nobody was that pleased with. Like the fighters themselves, we boxing fans are a resilient bunch.
But let's get real. The odds are 8-1 in favor of Mayweather, and the smart money is on Money. Mayweather may lose some day, but it won't be this Saturday.
Here are 12 reasons why.
A lot of people have been using the fact that Mayweather is now 34 years old and that fighters grow old in one night as a way to justify their Ortiz upset predictions. However, Mayweather doesn't have the mileage that usually causes a fighter to break down.
Sergio Martinez started late, so he's actually improving as he enters his late 30's. Vitali Klitschko took a four-year break, and now shows no signs of slowing down at age 40.
Mayweather is a similar case—he doesn't get hit that often, and hasn't been in too many wars. He is also returning from a 16-month hiatus after a somewhat unchallenging fight against Shane Mosley, and 18 months before that, an easy fight against Juan Marquez.
Mayweather is 34 years young, not 34 years old.
March Madness enthusiasts are well aware that upsets tend to happen when an experienced team overcomes a younger team, and not the other way around. The same is true of boxing.
Since Ring Magazine began awarding "Upset of the Year" in the early 1980s, there has never been an upset involving a fighter beating someone 10 years older. Sure, there have been quite a few "young beats old" upsets in history—Clay over Liston, Hatton over Tszyu, Spinks over Holmes, Rahman over Lewis, and Donaire over Darchinyan—but none have had such a drastic age difference as this fight.
The elements of a major upset just don't seem to be there for this fight. Ortiz won't be pushing Mayweather into uncharted territory, and he doesn't have the caginess to overcome the differences in skill that are at play in this fight.
Experience can negate skill and energy, but it's unlikely that youthful exuberance and raw nerves can upset a superior fighter.
Andre Berto wasn't himself when he faced Ortiz, and it was clear that solid blows in early rounds hurt him for the rest of the fight.
Ortiz won't be able to land those blows against Mayweather. If anything, Mayweather is too defensive, unlike Berto who, despite his immense speed advantages, likes to mix it up. Berto also squares up to his opponent, leaving himself exposed. Mayweather is the opposite—his famous shoulder roll and excellent head and body movement make him one of the most elusive fighters in the sport.
So the main thing that allowed Ortiz to beat a favored fighter in Berto—his ability to land hard punches against an upright opponent—will not serve Ortiz in this fight. Mayweather is a far more skilled and cautious opponent than Berto was.
What a difference a fight makes.
Six months ago, Ortiz was an afterthought in the welterweight and junior welterweight divisions. He had been thoroughly discredited after a loss to Marcos Maidana a few years back, and wasn't in Ring Magazine's top 10 for either division.
Then he beat the number two welterweight (who would have been number 3 if Mayweather hadn't been inactive) and suddenly became the second-ranked welterweight in the world himself.
One fight a few years ago turned Ortiz from prospect to non-contender, and one win this year made him the number 2 welterweight in the world. He simply isn't as formidable an opponent as his ranking might suggest.
Buster Douglas was an undisputed world champ after beating Tyson, but that didn't mean he was a new fighter when he lost to Evander Holyfield just eigh months later. Ortiz has a very thin track record to be going in against someone who is consistently exceptional like Mayweather.
Do you remember seeing Floyd sitting next to 50 Cent and smiling incessantly throughout the Ortiz-Berto fight?
His appearance there seemed to be a major indicator that he was interested in the bout; that conclusion was confirmed a few days later when he signed to face Ortiz.
Mayweather is crafty and has a known aversion to facing highly dangerous opponents. If he thought there was a serious chance Ortiz could beat him, he wouldn't have come out of retirement to face the guy, especially with the other lucrative options he has available.
The fact that Mayweather wanted this opponent—he probably would have wanted Berto if he had won—means that he's not concerned about what Ortiz has to offer.
Have you ever seen a Mayweather fight where he wasn't entirely fit and ready? I haven't.
When fighters don't prepare physically and mentally, they are ripe for an upset. Mike Tyson hadn't trained for Buster Douglas, and was emotionally vulnerable when he lost. Celestino Caballero took Jason Litzau for granted last year. Sonny Liston was psychologically not ready for Cassius Clay.
Mayweather doesn't have this problem. You saw his psychological preparation on 24/7, and he has never been the kind to get out of shape, even during his non-fighting stretches.
For all his arrogance and bravado, Mayweather seems to have a slight insecurity that makes him always want to prove that he's smarter, fitter and better than his opponent. This means he doesn't lapse on his training, and he doesn't overlook opponents, especially when he's fighting for the first time in 18 months.
Ortiz needs some luck and advantageous circumstances to have a chance against Mayweather, and Money May's diligence and preparation reduce that window of opportunity considerably.
Few people seem to realize that Mayweather's greatest gift isn't his foot speed or hand speed, but his mind speed. Like the Klitschko brothers, Mayweather always seems to be thinking a few steps further ahead than his opponent.
You noticed it during the Face-Off segment with Max Kellerman. Mayweather was coming up with three answers to a question while Ortiz was still trying to iron out his first one.
Money Mayweather has built a career out of anticipating his opponent's next move and systematically breaking him down. He was right when he told Ortiz he had seen and heard it all before. There's nothing Ortiz can do that Mayweather hasn't handled correctly in the past.
As Mike Tyson said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." Watching Tomasz Adamek get deconstructed by the jab of Vitali Klitschko this past weekend reinforces one's understanding in just how effective a jab can be at throwing a great fighter off his game. Adamek has good speed, boxing talent, and amazing heart, but if an opponent is anticipating your every move, then you will lose the fight.
Even if Mayweather's hand speed has slowed, his mind speed is unlikely to have changed much. Many fighters have overlooked Mayweather's mental advantages and paid the price.
In life and in sports people tend to underestimate the importance of good defense. They do so at their own peril.
In some ways, this fight resembles a diluted version of Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Pernell Whitaker. Ortiz is like a less-extreme Chavez and Mayweather is a less-extreme version of Whitaker.
Chavez was lucky to walk away with a draw in that fight, and he was the popular fighter favored to win. Good defense can trump good heart and great offense, and given Mayweather's front-runner status, that may be all he needs. If he can do to Ortiz what Pernell Whitaker did to Julio Cesar Chavez, then Mayweather will walk away with a broad decision victory.
The angrier the fight gets, the better Mayweather does. Mayweather's combination of passion and coolness thrives in dramatic situations.
When he fought Mosley, it seemed like Mosley's hard right in the second round activated a light in Mayweather, and he didn't seem to lose a single 10-second stretch for the rest of the fight.
A winning strategy in boxing is to throw a confident fighter off his game, and get him to doubt himself and become reactive. Mayweather's form of reactivity is to try to counterpunch more quickly and position himself better. The harder things get, the smarter Mayweather's fighting becomes.
That means it takes a lot more than confidence, passion and explosiveness to beat him.
This correlates closely with "Huge Upsets Usually Come from Older Fighters."
Boxing matches aren't won by pure strength, otherwise Michael Grant and Nikolay Valuev would be the greatest heavyweights ever. Instead, they're won by strategy and opportunity, a fighter sees something first, and adopts the proper strategy to deal with that. Ali was a master at this. Sugar Ray Robinson was better. Willie Pep, Henry Armstrong and Joe Louis are the greatest fighters of all time because of it.
Say what you will about youth, hunger and ability, but when a young fighter comes into a match with an older fighter and quickly becomes a 7-1 or 8-1 underdog, it's because bettors know that it takes more than just Ortiz's youth and passion to win. Experience counts, and it's enough to make Floyd the heavy favorite.
Ortiz's loss to Maidana indicates that he doesn't always show up on the big stage. Considering the fates of guys who do show up on the big stage—De La Hoya, Castillo, Corrales and Hatton, for example—it's hard to imagine Ortiz having a different fate.
He got thoroughly outclassed on Face Off with Max Kellerman, and it took his second big-time fight for Ortiz to finally show up. He seems to need a trial run to truly perform, and he hasn't had a trial run for this type of fight. Not even close.
In almost every boxer's mind—Ortiz's and Pacquiao's included—there is a "Cinderella" narrative, of working your way up from nothing, becoming champion by hard work and perseverance. It is a lionization of the underdog, and a rags-to-riches story that is perhaps the most common in all of boxing. A poor kid works his way to the top, becomes champion, and then when his moment is up, the next great champion arises from the masses.
Mayweather is different. He doesn't believe this. In his mind, he is always the champion because he was born to be the best. He never needed to become anything. He just needed to let other people know how great he inherently is.
This means that, unlike many fighters—who will panic and wonder if they're on the wrong side of history when pressured by a hungry young fighter like Ortiz—Mayweather will stay calm. Every hit he takes will make him more determined to punish Ortiz, and prove him wrong. It is not Mayweather's moment to lose, and it will take a lot more than Ortiz to change that.
It's tempting to say Mayweather's cockiness and confidence will finally cost him. It's tempting to say that a quicker, more powerful fighter will be able to beat him. It's tempting to say that Mayweather's speed has gone and his opponent has a competitive advantage.
Every time I've done that, I've been wrong.
We've all had a moment in the past where we've doubted Mayweather. We thought he was taking it too far. It might have been in the second Castillo fight. It might have been against Gatti. Perhaps against De La Hoya. Maybe Marquez could beat him. Some notable boxing observers thought Mosley, a big-game fighter, would be the guy.
And some people now think Ortiz can be that guy. Unlikely.
HBO wants you to think that, because giving Ortiz a chance of winning helps them sell this fight. But Ortiz won't win. I've given you 10 reasons why. Mayweather can give you another 41.
And he has said he wants Pacquiao next. Victor Ortiz can't stand in the way of history.