It’s funny, despite largely despising his public persona, over the years I’ve begun to appreciate Floyd Mayweather a lot more as a fighter.
I’m not saying I never acknowledged his skills, as that’s pretty much impossible to do without willfully deluding yourself to the truth; rather I failed to recognize how valuable he was to the sport of boxing.
In short, outside of Congressman Pacquiao, no other currently active fighter possesses the name recognition and marquee value that Mayweather does.
In an era where boxing is rapidly becoming less and less relevant in the eyes of the masses, fighters like Floyd Mayweather, however publicly distasteful their image may be; are crucial to the success and survival of the sport.
That’s not to say boxing will every truly be phased out as a sport, (it won’t) but without big name fighters to generate money and interest; the chances of the sport floundering or losing ground to MMA become much more feasible.
That being said, the reason I used to hate Floyd Mayweather, was not because he acted liked a buffoon outside the ring, or because I found him boring, but because he was just so damn good.
Growing up, I remember watching the young Floyd cut a swath through the competition, gradually moving up in weight and creating matchmaking chaos all the way.
Every time he’d move up in weight, everyone in the division would either swarm to make a date with him, or hastily move up themselves so as to preserve their reputation and continue with their careers.
Most of all though, I just hated him because he beat my boy Gatti so badly.
Nowadays, despite the repeated instances of Ray Leonard-esque layoffs, I’ve begun appreciate Floyd’s place in the sport.
He’s a loud, brash, defiant, and arrogant black man, and what results is people coming out, en masse, to see if he’ll back up his words or end up eating them.
If anything is true about Floyd Mayweather, it’s that, of all the pay-per-view buys and ticket sales he generates, half of it can likely be attributed to people that want to see him lose.
I don’t know if it’s intentional on his part or not, but Floyd has very skillfully positioned himself as the quintessential heel of boxing.
Like in wrestling, everyone knows that it’s easier to sell a feud between a face and a heel as opposed to 2 faces, and as such; Floyd has basically streamlined the marketing and matchmaking process for his fights by (seemingly) willfully embodying the role of the heel.
Floyd is far from one of my favorite fighters in the sport, but I do enjoy watching him work nonetheless.
Of this generation, I can think of a better technical boxer than Mayweather.
He doesn’t use his legs to dance as much anymore, but in terms his positioning and quickness, few can match him.
His economical style is far from the most thrilling to watch, however his ability to remain elusive and utterly dominate the pace of the fight are second to none.
Similarly, his hand speed and tricky defense put him the rare position of being dangerous at all times, while being a steadfast 12 round fighter.
On top of it all though, in my mind Floyd’s mind is his greatest asset in the ring.
While he certainly is far from a mental giant outside the sport of boxing, Mayweather is, like Bernard Hopkins; a genius in the ring.
More than that though, he’s possessed of a confidence and focus that seem virtually indomitable.
In a sport where mental strength accounts for about 80% of a fighter’s success at the top level, having unwavering confidence in one’s self is key.
While one-punch knockouts can and do happen, more often than not, knockouts are crafted through a combination of serendipity and careful coordination.
The point I’m trying to get across, is that often times, when you see a fighter defeated in emphatic fashion; it comes as a result of several visible factors throughout the fight.
In short, many fighters are defeated in the ring mentally, long before they are physically.
While he’s not a knockout artist in the least, Floyd is a fighter that frustrates, humiliates, and makes guys quit through sheer boxing skill.
And through a few cheap, borderline fouls, but that’s besides the point.
Today Floyd Mayweather will be fighting Victor Ortiz, a young Southpaw that’s dropped every man he’s faced at one time or another.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good fight, with no less than 5 knockdowns throughout, however personally I found it to be somewhat frustrating.
To his credit, Ortiz dominated the fight through bullying and crowding Berto, resulting in a fight that was a whole lot more one-sided than the knockdowns would suggest.
Essentially, the outcome of the fight was decided solely in the first half of the bout, with Berto mentally checking out sometime after the sixth round.
Berto has never been possessed of one-punch knockout power, and given that he was pressured into relying solely on counters and potshots; he never really got his stuff going in the fight.
While I wholeheartedly commend Ortiz for his dominating performance, his lack of offensive tact (I.E. jabs) resulted in him getting floored twice but a guy that was fighting both hurt, and on the run.
He overextended himself, as young guys tend to do in energetic brawls; and it cost him what very likely could’ve been an easy victory.
In case you couldn’t see where I’m coming from with all this, I’m picking Floyd to win over Ortiz.
While Ortiz can in fact box, his bet would likely to be to brawl with Floyd, though if he brings the same free swinging style as he did in the fight with Berto, he’s likely to walk into something big, more than likely a right hand.
Homerun punches are a double-edged sword.
Sure the have the capacity to deck guys in one shot, but should the be slipped or countered, the resulting fatigue and damage generated by such an outcome is far greater than punches of a more economical nature.
I wouldn’t go so far as to predict a knockout on Floyd’s part, but I do see him getting to Ortiz and maybe hurting him at some point.
For what it’s worth, and I’m likely to piss somebody off with this, I honestly don’t like Ortiz.
He can be fun to watch, as any guy that knocks people down can be; but I really don’t like the image he projects.
He has that trademark Golden Boy-tailored, people friendly image, but underneath it all he clearly has a chip on his shoulder, not to mention a massive helping of machismo.
With the haircut, the tribal tattoos, and the talk of “destroying” his opponent, Ortiz comes across as a fighter for the UFC crowd moreso than boxing.
Oh well it’s not important, I just felt I should get that off my chest while I was on the subject.
That being said, tonight will be only the second time I’ll have rooted for Mayweather, with the first being when he fought Ricky Hatton.
Man I hate Ricky Hatton…
Anyway, here’s hoping my support for him doesn’t jinx, but above all; here’s hoping the fight turns out to be a good time!