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Ortiz, Mayweather Finely Tuned And Ready For Battle

By Jake Donovan

Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather both made weight ahead of their welterweight title fight Saturday evening in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Both fighters were in supreme condition for the pay-per-view headliner, which airs live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Saturday, HBO PPV, 9PM ET/6PM PT). Ortiz came in at the welterweight limit of 147 lb, while Mayweather was slightly below at146.5 lb.

Ortiz (29-2-2, 22KO) makes the first defense of the alphabet title he acquired earlier this year in a thrilling points win over previously unbeaten Andre Berto. Both fighters hit the deck twice in their Fight of the Year entrant, though it was Ortiz who came on strong down the stretch to score the biggest win of his career.

Mayweather (41-0, 25KO) returns to the ring for the first time since his 12-round whitewash of Shane Mosley, which came 16 months ago in the very same arena. In fact, Saturday marks Mayweather’s fifth straight appearance in the venue. The run began with his split decision win over Oscar de la Hoya in an event that helped the undefeated pound-for-pound entrant cross over from boxing star to mainstream attraction.

The title fight marks the fifth time in Mayweather’s last nine fights in which he challenges for another figher’s belt, despite having never lost one in the ring himself. The total would be six, had he complied with alphabet regulations and agreed to pay the sanctioning fees for last year’s showdown with Mosley. He instead decided to keep the extra cash in his pocket, correctly declaring that he doesn’t need a belt to define his greatness.

One would argue why he isn’t doing the same for this fight if he so strongly believes that, to which the correct answer is his longstanding relationship with the WBC, the presiding sanctioning body for Saturday’s headliner (as well as two other televised bouts).
 
Mayweather has won title belts in five separate weight classes, all belonging to the Mexico-based organization, along with picking up the IBF welterweight belt with his decision win over Zab Judah in April 2006.

The very belt at stake in this fight originally belonged to Mayweather, who acquired the strap in November 2006 with his virtual shutout of Carlos Baldomir. His lone defense came a year later, when he knocked out Ricky Hatton in ten rounds, only to announce his retirement six months later, severing all ties to the sport including any titles to which he laid claim.

The vacant title was won by Andre Berto in June 2008, just two weeks after Mayweather’s retirement announcement. Berto made five successful defenses before running into Ortiz this past April, a bout for which Mayweather sat ringside, prompting his second ring return in the past 45 months.

Mayweather’s previous break from the game lasted 21 months between fights. A mixture of popular demand and battles with the IRS prompted Mayweather’s return to the ring in September 2009.

Ortiz’ star power is still on the rise, though receiving a huge boost with the thrilling and brave fashion in which he conquered Berto. The performance helped ease the wounds left in his in-ring quit job against Marcos Maidana two years prior in what served as his first crack at a major belt (albeit one of the “interim” variety). Ortiz scored three knockdowns but hit the deck twice himself before literally calling it quits early in the sixth round of their HBO-televised war.

The Kansas-raised, California-based southpaw spent the next two years attempting to repair the damage caused with his actions during and after the fight, in which he openly questioned whether or not he was cut out to take punishment like he did that evening.

A six-fight unbeaten streak has followed, although he struggled to a 10-round draw against Lamont Peterson last November. The viewing public was split on how the fight should’ve been scored, which perhaps justifies the final outcome. Those who cited a case for Ortiz noted the pair of knockdowns he scored in the third round and his landing the heavier blows throughout.

Saturday marks Ortiz’ first pay-per-view headliner; Mayweather plays the role for the eighth time in his past nine contests.


SUPPORTING CAST

Former three division champ and future Hall of Fame entrant Erik Morales and undefeated Pablo Cano both came in exactly at the super lightweight limit of 140 lb. for their vacant title fight.

Morales (51-7, 35KO) is vying to become the first ever Mexican fighter to capture alphabet hardware in four separate weight classes. He has won three of his last four bouts since returning to the ring last year, although his most impressive performance was in fact his 12-round loss to Marcos Maidana this past April in one of the year’s best fights.

Cano (22-0-1, 17KO) accepted the fight on very late notice, filling in for an ailing Lucas Matthysse who was forced to withdraw last week. The bout marks his first outside of his native Mexico.

The televised opener features two more super lightweights, as Jessie Vargas and Josesito Lopez collide in a 10-round scrap. The two nearly came to blows at the weigh-in, though the situation was quickly diffused.

Vargas (16-0, 9KO) weighed in at 140.5 lb, while Lopez was slightly heavier at 142 lb.
 
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Ringlife on 09-17-2011

Mayweather needs to win by knockout here its been a long time sense he's won by knock out. Look for May to catch Ortiz on the break Ortiz is always open after the break and may will land powerful shots…

Comment by castheone on 09-16-2011

[QUOTE=mshap;11148961]Ortiz will give PBF some problems early due mainly to his adrenaline rush and Mayweather's ring rust -- PBF will take some hard shots, may even go down but will gradually figure Ortiz out and will start taking command by…

Comment by mshap on 09-16-2011

Ortiz will give PBF some problems early due mainly to his adrenaline rush and Mayweather's ring rust -- PBF will take some hard shots, may even go down but will gradually figure Ortiz out and will start taking command by…

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