Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mayweather-Ortiz: Keys to the Fight

Here's a quick primer on some of the key elements that will determine the outcome of the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight.

1.  How's the chin, Floyd?
By all accounts, Mayweather has stayed in the gym during his 16-month layoff.  Weighing in the 140s weeks ago, Mayweather should have no problem making the welterweight limit.  However, there's a significant difference between training at the gym, or even sparring with well regarded-professionals, and taking a punch from one of the best knockout artists in the sport.  Mayweather has had a good chin throughout his career but he has been rattled in the past by Demarcus Corley, Zab Judah and Shane Mosley (two of them are southpaws, like Ortiz).  Will Mayweather's inactivity and advancing age hinder his ability to take Ortiz's power punches?  Could even a vintage Mayweather take Ortiz's best shots? 

Mayweather will get hit with some big punches early and he needs to survive the first few rounds; he has no choice.  Ortiz will come forward with relentless pressure and he doesn't throw jabs – just  accurate, thundering, left-handed bombs.  Even if Mayweather avoids most of these shots, Ortiz will still be able to connect with some.  Mayweather's chin and veteran legs will be tested.  

2.  Hey Victor, what about the right hand?
Ortiz's left cross is one of the most devastating punches in boxing.  However, he will need to establish his right hand, especially his hook, to keep Mayweather from pot-shotting or moving away from the pocket.  In his last fight against Andre Berto, Ortiz's jab could have been found on the endangered species list.  If it was thrown at all, it was just for show, so he could land his left hand. 

On the inside, he will use his right hand for hooks and uppercuts as part of his power combinations.  But against Mayweather, Ortiz must throw jabs and lead right hooks to keep his opponent honest.  Without an active right hand, Mayweather will have free rein to circle to his left, pot-shot and turn Ortiz around with angles.  

3.  And Victor, what about some head movement?
Ortiz marches right in to his opponents.  As already noted, he most often won't even throw a jab to get inside.  Additionally, he comes in directly, without using angles.  Any good counterpuncher or boxer who throws straight shots can hit Ortiz fairly easily.  Ortiz's inability to incorporate head movement into his offensive attack makes for exciting television; both Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto knocked him down twice.  

However, if Ortiz wants to win fights against the best in the sport, he will need a less predictable way of getting inside.  Some angles would work; head movement would be even better.  Without significant improvement in this area, Mayweather will have a field day.  It's possible that he could land over 50% of his shots against the most recent version of Ortiz.  Ortiz must fix this flaw or will he will swiftly fall behind on the cards.

4.  Hey Joe, will you let them fight?
The Nevada State Athletic Commission disappointed many with the selection of Joe Cortez as the referee.  True, he has been the third man in the ring for some of the largest and most significant fights over the past 30 years.  However, Cortez has become officious and meddlesome in many of his recent fights, stopping action repeatedly and unnecessarily.  Perhaps most importantly, he was the referee for Mayweather-Hatton, whereby he constantly broke the fighters apart even when they were not actually clinched, having free arms. 

On the surface, the selection of Cortez does not bode well for Ortiz, who must fight at close range to succeed.  Should Cortez continue his recent history of minimizing inside fighting, Ortiz's chances of winning would significantly diminish.  However, perhaps there will be a silver lining for Ortiz with Cortez's selection.  If Cortez can be "fair and firm" with Mayweather by disallowing his illegal usages of elbows and forearms (they have become some of his best weapons in recent fights), Ortiz would benefit.  

5.  So Danny, what's Plan B?
It's obvious that Ortiz will rush Mayweather in the fight's first few rounds.  It's the right strategy against a veteran boxer who is coming off a long layoff and has had problems with southpaws in previous fights.  But what happens when Mayweather survives the early pressure?  What adjustments do Ortiz and his trainer, Danny Garcia, make when Mayweather slips out of the pocket and starts pot-shotting or turning Ortiz with angles?  This may be the most important facet of the fight.

With the exception of the second half of Ortiz's fight with Lamont Peterson, whereby Ortiz stopped applying pressure in the later rounds, believing he was significantly ahead on the scorecards (he should have been – the draw verdict was bogus), Ortiz has only fought in one way: as a power-punching destroyer.  What if Mayweather goes all Bernard Hopkins on Ortiz and turns the fight into a nasty, grappling match on the inside, negating Ortiz's straight left hand?  Surely, Mayweather will try to make this match a cerebral affair, but does Garcia have the strategic chops to instruct Ortiz on how to turn the fight in his favor? 

To this point, Garcia has had the thoroughbred, who dominates lesser athletes with speed, technique and brute physicality.  However, if it's a slow track, with sloppy conditions, against cagey opposition, how does Garcia get his charge to pull ahead?  With Garcia, will Ortiz be able to mount a late charge or will he be nothing more than a pacesetter?

Contact Saturday Night Boxing at  
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook: 
and on Twitter: @snboxing ( 

No comments:

Post a Comment