By Mesuli Zifo
Boxing may be affectionately called the Sweet Science but it is often dominated by very big “ ifs”, “buts” and “whens” when big fights are made.
Take the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jnr WBC welterweight title clash against Victor Ortiz on September 17 for instance.
Admittedly the fight has captured the imaginations of the boxing fraternity primary because it is hoped that it will provide answers to some intriguing questions regarding the boxing styles of the two fighters.
For starters it will just give the fans an answer on whether Mayweather will be able to deal with a young southpaw who is arguably at his prime and has youth on his side.
Mayweather who has struggled against aggressive southpaws has not faced a young boxer at his prime for some time and at 34 years his defensive wizardry is surely not what it used to be.
And the long lay-off since his domination of shopworn Shane Mosley when the not so sweet “Sugar” nearly knocked him out in the second round, over a year ago is also another addition to the intrigue going to the Ortiz bout.
But the highly- anticipated encounter would possibly not be taking place had one South African fighter Kaizer Mabuza agreed to face Ortiz for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title last December.
Then rated second for the title stripped from Devon Alexander for choosing to go ahead with the unification clash against WBO champion Timothy Bradley in January, Ortiz’s promoter Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) approached the first rated Mabuza to face their charge last December 11.
By that time current IBF champion Zab Judah was scheduled to face Lucas Matthysse but that clash had not yet been sanctioned as the mandatory by the IBF as the federation was still waiting for the directions of the negotiations between GBP and Mabuza’s promoter Branco Sports Production (BSP).
BSP boss Branco Milenkovic turned down the fight believing that his less illustrious charge stood very little chance of winning the title against the Vicious 24-year-young southpaw.
Ortiz wound up facing late substitute Lamont Peterson whom he fought to a draw, an outcome which needed him a marquee bout to redeem himself.
And redeemed himself he did when he put forth a gutsy showing in toppling WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto, a victory which has now earned him the Mayweather sweepstakes.
Had Ortiz beaten Mabuza as he was expected to do, he would have probably not challenged Berto and would have instead likely remained in the junior welterweight for a while.
Therefore it is very unlikely that he would have earned the megabout against Mayweather.
Unless of course Mayweather would have lured him into moving up a division as he had previously done to the likes of Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and others.
With a Manny Pacquiao clash the preference of many boxing fans, Mayweather would have been hard pressed to justify picking an Ortiz who is a junior welterweight, whose ability to hang with the welterweights was even questioned going to the Berto fight.
The general feeling is that Mayweather would have opted for another foe for his come-backing clash to minimize the backlash of not facing Pacquiao.
But thanks to his rejection by Mabuza, Ortiz has not only scored big by getting the nod to face “Money” but he may just erase his mental meltdown against Marcos Maidana for good.
Who said boxing is not a sport of “Ifs”, “buts” and “whens”?