Saturday night will see Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz meet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a fight that will be broadcast on HBO pay-per-view. Mayweather is boxing PPV king and is one of the best fighters this generation has seen in the ring. In Victor Ortiz, Floyd faces the #2 ranked welterweight in the world coming off his best ever win.
Let's break down the fighters and see how this fight shapes up:
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Last 5 Fights:
- May 1, 2010 - W (Decision) vs. Shane Mosley
- September 19, 2009 - W (Decision) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
- December 8, 2007 - W (TKO-10) vs. Ricky Hatton
- May 5, 2007 - W (Split Decision) vs. Oscar De La Hoya
- November 4, 2006 - W (Decision) vs. Carlos Baldomir
Strengths: Floyd is very fast, especially for a welterweight. He also is a masterful defensive fighter, possibly the best the sport of boxing has seen since Pernell Whitaker was making men punch air. That defense and speed matched with very solid accuracy makes Floyd a dangerous counter-puncher. In recent fights though, Floyd has really opened up with his lead right hand and brought the fight to men like Mosley more than would normally be expected. Finally, Mayweather's strengths in other areas lead to the fact that he has power in both hands being overlooked. His power isn't always properly used, but it exists enough to keep opponents honest. He truly is a complete fighter.
Weaknesses: When a man has had the level of success that Mayweather has, you have to resort to nitpicking and speculation to really find weaknesses. There are openings to counter Floyd, and the few times he has been hurt have been the direct result of leaving his chin open when punching. You must catch Floyd on the counter as you're going to have trouble finding him if he is in defensive mode. Mayweather is also a one-shot fighter. Going back through his career he has not been a guy who lets combinations go often at all.
One also has to question the fact that Floyd is 34 years old with a style predicated on reflexes and fast twitch muscles. This is a style that typically leads to a sudden, sharp decline at a younger age than most traditional boxers. Given that we've only seen Floyd fight twice since the start of 2008 and that was against an old Mosley and an outsized Marquez it's hard to know exactly where he is in his overall career arc. One also has to go back to 2006 to find Floyd fighting a legitimate welterweight who wasn't "over the hill."
Last 5 Fights:
- April 16, 2011 - W (Decision) vs. Andre Berto
- December 11, 2010 - Draw vs. Lamont Peterson
- September 18, 2010 - W (KO-3) vs. Vivian Harris
- May 15, 2010 - W (Decision) vs. Nate Campbell
- February 25, 2010 - W (TKO-10) vs. Hector Alatorre
Strengths: Ortiz has big power in both hands and has yet to find an opponent he can't drop. He also is willing to use that asset, throwing punches with bad intentions at all times. In the Berto fight, it looked like Ortiz has always belonged at welterweight. He looked strong at the weight and his cardio held up well throughout the fight. Being a southpaw is more of an advantage than fighting orthodox when it comes to fighting Mayweather and you certainly can't fault Victor for not being active enough given that he has fought as much since 2010 as Floyd has since 2005. While heart is a question, Ortiz has shown the ability to get off the canvas and still do solid work.
Weaknesses: Victor can be dropped, both Marcos Maidana and Berto were able to do so on more than one occasion. The elephant in the room is the question of Victor's heart. In the very entertaining battle with Maidana, Victor was up 48-45 on all three judges scorecards but suffering from a cut and having been knocked down in the sixth round, Ortiz quit. To make matters worse, he said in the post fight press conference that he "didn't deserve" to be beaten up the way he was and that he had some thinking to do. In some ways the Berto fight addressed this issue, but it's going to take more than one fight to erase that moment from the minds of boxing fans. If frustration is something that makes Victor want out of the ring, fighting a guy that is as hard to hit while effective offensively as Mayweather may break the young Ortiz's spirit quickly.
Ortiz's power punching style makes him very "counterable" for a guy with Floyd's gifts. He isn't always the most accurate fighter which only adds to the problems he may have once Mayweather gets his timing and rhythm established.
It isn't going to take long to see how the fight will play out. If Ortiz can't find success in the first two or three rounds, he isn't likely to find it at any point, barring clipping Floyd as the fight wears on. Victor has to make a decision immediately after the opening bell. Will he headhunt and try to hurt and finish Floyd before he can get rid of the ring rust and find his rhythm? Or will he go old school and work the body to sap the speed and open up the head as the rounds wear on?
Mayweather needs to not get caught up in a shootout, it's not his style so there isn't a huge risk of seeing it happen. If he can counter Victor effectively in the opening rounds, it will likely make Ortiz reluctant to fire the power punches and allow Floyd to dictate a comfortable rhythm.
Ortiz will also likely need to accept some punches to open up his offense. If at any point in the fight he is going backward and isn't the attacking fighter, he is losing. It comes down to pressuring Floyd and fighting like the younger man. If he can keep Mayweather from getting comfortable he might be able to make him fight like the "old man" Victor claims he is.
I have a bad habit of convincing myself that an upset is coming in the big fight. There is a part of my brain that I've already convinced that Victor will tag and hurt a Mayweather that simply isn't used to fighting young, big welterweights.
But I can't bring myself to follow through with that pick.
Assuming we see anything close to "normal Floyd" rather than an old, rusty fighter, he is simply a better fighter than Victor Ortiz. While no one should overlook Victor in this fight, and the possibility of him knocking out Mayweather does exist, it's simply more likely that Mayweather controls the pace of the fight and hits more than he gets hit in typical Pretty Boy style.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. by unanimous decision.