( Member of Boxing Writers Assc. & International Boxing Research Org. )
This fight was a measure of how great Floyd Mayweather still was and Victor Ortiz’s job was to test the mantle of Mayweather’s invincibility. The buzz from many pundits that Ortiz had a chance and much was questioned about Mayweather’s age and 16 months vacation from the ring. The universal consensus was that Mayweather would win but Ortiz may have been his toughest competitor in a while. CNNSI.com Chris Mannix summed up conventional wisdom, “Now, the fight: I’m picking Mayweather, by unanimous decision. Ortiz is good. When you factor in his age (24) and size, he is probably the best opponent Mayweather has faced since Oscar De La Hoya. But — and this is a big but — Floyd is just in a different class. Yes, he’s older and you can’t point to many welterweights who are still in their primes when they hit 34. But his conditioning, his otherworldly skill level and the lack of wear and tear on his body make him unique…Ortiz’s only shot is to knock him out. That won’t be easy; just hitting Mayweather hasn’t been easy. But if Ortiz can work the body early, can make it an even fight over the first four rounds and make Mayweather think he needs a knockout, he has a chance.”
Mayweather started the fight with a jab and he dodged Ortiz punches before landing a couple of body shots followed by flurry of quick hands before Ortiz backed him back. Thus the main event of the $60 PPV began. Mayweather’s quickness showed up immediately but Ortiz managed in the second round to land a solid right hook along with body shots before Mayweather countered with a right. In what was another good round, Ortiz did not back down and may have even taken the round.
This was Ortiz high water mark as Mayweather backed Ortiz in the third round with his quick hands. Ortiz was less effective when forced to back up and Mayweather skills started to show up. Within the opening seconds of the fourth round, Mayweather landed thundering combinations and Ortiz looked befuddle like” what do I do now?” Ortiz went back to his battering style and even landed a couple of punches while Mayweather smugly signaled, “I am not hurt, I am not hurt.”
Ortiz head butted Mayweather and this is where hell broke loose. Referee Joe Cortez deducted a point for the head butt. Ortiz tried to apologize and with his arms open as “if let’s touch gloves”, Mayweather nailed him with a right hand, sending Ortiz down. Cortes had appeared to start the fight and certainly, Mayweather could easily have waited a few more seconds to ensure that Ortiz was ready. Legally, Mayweather did nothing wrong and Ortiz did not protect himself but then would it have more sporting if Mayweather waited? Mayweather may have been irritated at the head butt and Ortiz did not protect himself when he should have and Ortiz certainly did not stay aware of his surroundings; thus he lost the fight by knockout.
What does this mean for Mayweather? Good question for the big fight out there is Pacquaio and Mayweather has made it clear that unless he is 100 percent certain that the Pacman is a clean fighter, there will be no Pacman-Mayweather fight despite the nine figures potential. (I am not saying Pacquiao is on performance enhancing drug, but Mayweather believes him to be and even Mosley supposedly told Mayweather that he believes Pacquiao to be juiced.)
As for Mayweather, he was typical Mayweather in the ring, calm and collected as he waited for his opportunity. Mayweather showed that at 34, he is not old just yet as his reflexes were sharp and punches accurate.
On the undercard, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez defended his WBC light Middleweight title against the ever popular Alfonso Gomez. Alvarez began the fight with a couple of quick hard punches and a hard jab sent Gomez down at the end of the round. He continued with some good movement in the second round while nailing the body with hard combinations but in the third round, Gomez answered with jabs of his own and even landed some solid right hands. Throughout the fourth and fifth round, Gomez threw the larger volume of punches but Alvarez threw the harder punches. There were times that Gomez work rate seem to bother Alvarez.
The sixth round saw the similar activities of the previous rounds as Gomez threw more punches and Alvarez threw the harder punches. A hard Alvarez combination trapped Gomez on the rope and before Gomez could respond; the referee stopped the fight. Gomez stated after the fight that he could have continued but it doesn’t matter if many ringside observers thought the stoppage was quick, the fight still ended in a TKO victory for Alvarez.
Erik Morales fought fill in Pablo Cesar Cano for Tim Bradley’s vacated WBC light welterweight and during the early rounds, Cano youth and quickness allowed Cano to build up an early lead on the score cards.
By the fourth round, Morales started to figure out his young opponent and connected on his patented right hand which opened up a cut over Cano eyes. From this point, both fighters pounded each other, a fight that benefited Morales but not before Cano managed to open a cut over Morales left eye.
Morales’ power started to insert itself as Cano started to slow down and looked tired as Morales started to connect on combinations that rocked Cano in the ninth and tenth round. Cano managed to stay standing but with multiple cuts and shaky legs, his corner called it quits. Morales looked like an old Morales in the opening rounds but as the fight progressed, Morales managed to combat father time as he won a impressive victory.
This leaves Tim Bradley as the odd man out since he turned down a big fight with Amir Khan and now he doesn’t even have a piece of the junior welterweight title. His only option is to fight Khan or Morales for there is no Pacquiao fight in the future. The latter may be the safer choice for an old Morales may be more vulnerable to Bradley round and brawling style whereas Khan is a young fighter hitting his peak.
This evening saw Erik Morales recapturing a portion of his youth as he defeated a young fighter but the question remains, what happens when he fights the elites of the division? Beating Cano is one thing, beating Khan is another.
The fighter of the evening was Mayweather and like many Mayweather fights, even in victory we are left with questions and wondering when does he finally fight Pacquaio?