This evening, we will see the return of Floyd Mayweather Jr, who has been absent from the ring for 16 months. His last outing was a 12 round dissection of Sugar Shane Mosley, albeit after a shaky start.
The opponent this time round is Vicious Victor Ortiz, 29-2-2 22 KO’s. Ortiz's WBC Welterweight belt is the trophy on the line here, the very same belt Mayweather once took off Carlos Baldomir before dropping it to fight Oscar De La Hoya at light middle.
For Floyd this is a big comeback fight. This very well could be his hardest bout in the last five years and let’s not forget he is 34 years old now, compared to Ortiz’s 24.
Mayweather has a hungry, fresh, strong young fighter stood in front of him, if he is looking past this as another big pay day en route to a contest against Manny Pacquiao, it would be to his detriment.
In terms of what the different fighters bring to the table, we are all quite familiar with Floyd's work. A naturally gifted defensive counter puncher, who is unorthodox in the respect that he will lead with uncommon shots, a skill he is able to utilize because of his speed.
Mayweather can fight at range, on the back foot or in the pocket, and so far has been unparalleled in those aspects of his game.
In his career he has demonstrated his ability to take a shot well, not that he gets caught all that often. In his most recent fight, against Mosley, Mayweather was caught with a great right hand in the second round, and his knees buckled, the first time we had really seen Mayweather hurt.
Much to everyone’s surprise, instead of getting on the back foot and out boxing Mosley in the usual fashion, Mayweather decided to outgun Mosley, standing almost toe-to-toe with him, making him miss and making him pay, until Mosley pretty much stopped throwing and ended up fighting at Floyd's pace, almost dancing to his tune.
The ability to take away the opposition's weapons, whatever they may be, and make them fight at his pace is one of Mayweather's greatest assets.
He is constantly looking to see how opponents move, how they react, how they throw.
A perfect example of this is when he fought Zab Judah. Judah, a slick, powerful, fast southpaw, just like Ortiz, gave Mayweather a hard 5-6 rounds in their encounter.
Mayweather barely touched Judah in the early rounds and Judah connected on more than one occasion. Sure enough though, Mayweather started timing Judah, figuring him out, pressuring him. Before long, Judah was fighting at Mayweather's pace and the writing was on the wall.
Ortiz is no Judah. Ortiz is a warrior through and through and has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today. He is no way as slick or fast as Judah, but he hits harder and has more heart.
A lot of critics and fans alike give Ortiz slack for his performance against Marcos Rene Maidana. Maidana, who is a monster at the weight and a very tough fighter who hits very hard, is no walk over.
Ortiz went down twice in that fight and it ended when Ortiz essentially quit. The events that preceded that were a great fight, in which Ortiz showed heart in getting up after being dropped and dropping Maidana another two times, three overall.
It was a great fight to watch and a tough one for both fighters. In my eyes, respect goes to both guys.
Redemption for Ortiz came in the form of a string of good performances over Antonio Diaz, Hector Alatorre, Nate Campbell, Vivian Harris and Lamont Peterson. A draw with Peterson, a unanimous decision over Campbell and he stopped the others.
These victories paved the way for his shot at the WBC welter title owned by Andre Berto, another young, powerful, skilled, undefeated fighter. In a thriller, with two knockdowns a piece, Ortiz emerged victorious over the distance.
Just as Ortiz is no Judah, Berto is no Mayweather. Some say Mayweather struggles with southpaws; in the amateurs is where he last tasted defeat, and yes it was against a southpaw. I am sure we can all agree that the amateurs are a different ball game to the pros.
Other southpaws Mayweather faced over the years are Jose Luis Castillo twice and Demarcus Corley. Castillo gave Mayweather problems, but was that because he was southpaw? Or because he had a tenacious brawling style and was a good fighter?
Corley connected once flush on Mayweather, and couldn’t touch him again throughout the whole fight. Corley was dropped in the 8th and 10th rounds.
Can Mayweather hurt Ortiz? Yes, if he catches Ortiz coming in, on the counter. Ortiz carries the heavier hands here and if he lands, he will hurt Mayweather.
Ortiz will come to fight no doubt about that, but in doing so, will he be lured into a trap by Mayweather? Will he end up fighting at Floyd's pace?
Although Ortiz represents the biggest threat to Mayweather in the last six years, Floyd always finds a way to win. Young hungry lion or wily old veteran, Floyd has faced them all.
All who would claim that this was their time, they were stronger or hit harder or were faster or bigger. He has beat them all.
Mayweather will have faced someone like Ortiz before; Ortiz will not have faced anyone like Mayweather.
Ortiz does have all the right tools to beat Mayweather, the question is whether he can put these tools to use, or more to the point, whether Mayweather allows him.