SI.com’s boxing experts predict Saturday’s welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz. Share your prediction in the comments below.
Ortiz has the edge in youth, strength and, presumably, stamina. He’s easily the toughest opponent Mayweather has faced since his high-profile win over Oscar De La Hoya. But you can measure ring savvy or an ability to absorb and not be overwhelmed by the moment. Ortiz will challenge Mayweather early but by the ninth round Floyd will be cruising. Mayweather by unanimous decision.
There’s every reason to believe this will be a competitive, even an exciting fight — and quite possibly a dangerous one for Mayweather. Ortiz’s blend of size, power and youth is something Mayweather hasn’t faced in a long time. And, if it comes to that, Mayweather hasn’t faced anyone in a long time. A 16-month layoff is significant, especially at age 34.
Still, Ortiz is unlikely to be able to show Mayweather anything that Floyd hasn’t seen a thousand times — and Floyd has a thousand moves that Ortiz has never seen. I’m sure Mayweather thinks this will be an easy night’s work. And it should be. But there’s a real chance that Ortiz could tag Floyd early and take him out of his game, make it a rough, bruising bout. Mayweather hasn’t really had any all-out wars and if Ortiz — who, despite the “quitter” label hung on him after the Maidana fight, has shown great resilience — can rock him and take the fight to the trenches, he could make Floyd look old and maybe even stop him.
In the end, though, I expect this to be another frustratingly slick performance by a great, if never as great as he thinks, fighter. Mayweather by unanimous decision.
BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM
Mayweather stays in shape 24/7/365, so I don’t read too much into the layoff. But consider the ages of Floyd’s last eight opponents: Shane Mosley (38), Juan Manuel Marquez (36), Ricky Hatton (29), Oscar De La Hoya (34), Carlos Baldomir (35), Zab Judah (28), Sharmba Mitchell (35), Arturo Gatti (33). No shortage of marquee names there, but it’s been nearly a decade since Mayweather was put in against a competitive young fighter.
Ortiz has a pressure style that could trouble Mayweather. A number of fighters have gotten to Floyd early over the years — Chop Chop Corley and Mosley jump to mind — but none have finished the job. Mayweather is a very clever boxer with exceptional ring intelligence, and he’ll need every ounce of his ability to weather the early Ortiz onslaught. But as long as he can avoid getting into a shootout, he’ll prevail. Victor Ortiz has spent the past four months saying he wants the best Floyd Mayweather to show up on fight night, not a faded edition. He’ll get his wish. Mayweather by unanimous decision.