Anthony Wilson had a dream. A dream about Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Victor Ortiz, and the eternal hope that Mayweather will be tested. Is Victor Ortiz the man for the job?
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I had a dream Monday morning.
I dreamed about the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz clash, scheduled for September 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The match played out in my dream. It went differently than how I envision it when I'm awake.
Because in my slumber I saw Ortiz severely challenge Mayweather, challenge him and force him to respond to adversity in a way he's never had to.
It was a scene boxing fans claim to desire to witness.
In May of last year, they hoped Shane Mosley could finally be the man to make it a reality.
At the Rumble, in his Mayweather-Mosley prognostification, my old colleague Avi Korine revealed this to be his expectation of the fight.
He talked of Mayweather having been "cruising in third gear" and his belief that Mosley had "the ability to push Floyd, to test him," and allow us "to see inside more than we ever have."
Mosley would famously rock and hurt in the second round of their fight, but after that it was all Floyd. He righted the ship and battered Mosley the rest of the night, crusing to yet another one-sided victory.
In my dream, though (and this was an actual, honest-to-God dream I had, in case you're wondering), Ortiz succeeded where Mosley wasn't able to. He was able to pull Mayweather (clad in the same red, white, and blue ensemble he wore in his previous comeback fight, against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009) into a dogfight, make him fight to maintain that undefeated record that he takes so much pride in. Mayweather wound up stopping him late (yes, showing killer instinct, something else boxing fans have always said they yearned to see from him). It was rousing.
I say Ortiz was able to take Floyd to this place but what it really was was time. It seemed evident in the dream that Mayweather had been made mortal by the effects of age and activity. These factors had closed the gap between him and a lesser fighter and it forced him to dig deeper and fight harder to get the win. There was also a thought that, based on his performance against Ortiz, he had gone from a pick to win comfortably against Manny Pacquiao to ripe for the picking against the Filipino icon.
In reality, I don't see things this way. I think Mayweather is one of the smartest men in boxing, period. I think he knows his body and where he's at as an athlete and what he's capable of at this point of his career. I think he's a savvy and calculating matchmaker (more so than even the other great money-making fighters throughout history, who were much the same) and I don't think he would have picked Victor Ortiz if he didn't feel sure he was going to beat him.
I was surprised to hear so many boxing fans react to the announcement of the fight the way that they did. To hear them speak of Ortiz as such a legitimate threat. I don't consider him to be, not really. I mean, yes, Ortiz is big, strong, fast, powerful, young, hungry, and a southpaw. And yes, he is coming off an impressive win over the previously unbeaten Andre Berto in their thrilling encounter .
But Berto was best known - and derided - for being boxing's most notorious unproven commodity. And yet, Ortiz (up until that point being brought back with baby steps by Golden Boy following his infamous debacle against Marcos Maidana in 2009) was still considered such a huge question mark going into the fight that he was listed as a 4-to-1 underdog.
In just two fights Ortiz has gone from a fallen blue-chip prospect still trying to put the pieces of his young career back together to a participant in a big fight against all-time great and true ring master Floyd Mayweather Jr. Is he ready for this? Is he worthy? He may be, but as far as I'm concerned there is no solid evidence that he is.
He looked like a bull in beating Berto, freed up from the strains of making junior welterweight and unleashed as an absolute problem at welterweight.
But he also got dropped twice, and was badly hurt after the second one, in the sixth round, to the point that it looked like he might not make it out of the stanza.
I consider this fight and pretty much all I think about is the flaws evident in Ortiz. And I think they're all Floyd thinks about also. The holes in Ortiz's defense are plentiful and I think Mayweather will exploit them at will. His ring IQ is vastly superior than the 24-year old Ortiz's and I don't see him troubling Mayweather at all after the first couple of rounds, if at all (in other words, I expect it to follow the script of a typical Mayweather fight).
But who knows? Though I think boxing is a bit like riding a bicycle to Mayweather, I suppose too much inactivity can eventually hurt even the most natural of performers. And age does us all in. Mayweather was 32 the last time he returned from a long layoff; there were no signs of rust. But he's a couple of years older now, and not only will he have been inactive for 16 months by the time of the fight, but he'll have fought only twice since December of 2007 (when he knocked out Ricky Hatton in his last fight before announcing his retirement).
Mayweather has taken virtually no punishment through 41 professional fights, but the fact remains that he is a 34-year old part-time fighter. In other words, nothing with him is guaranteed.