Boxing

Mayweather - Pacquaio remains only worthwhile mega-fight left

By Steve Janoski: It was a bizarre ending, one that could only come during a Floyd Mayweather fight: a kiss on the cheek, a touch of the gloves, and a ruthless knockout that will soon make its way onto the YouTube highlight reels.

And if Mayweather taught us anything, it was what Arturo Gatti and Shane Mosley already learned in their respective fights with the champ — if you’re in the squared circle with Floyd Mayweather, expect to get hit. Don’t talk, don’t hug, don’t look to the ref, and certainly don’t kiss. You’re here to fight. Young Ortiz learned this the hard way, and it is doubtful that he will “space out” at any time during the remainder of his career.

Of course, the ending of this fight has given Mayweather’s haters more ammunition than they could ever possibly want, and the fighter’s recent statements that he’d be willing to grant Ortiz a rematch only if he defeats fellow welterweight Andre Berto again have made the boxing world scratch its collective head.

That first fight, which Ortiz won in April, was a banger, no doubt, maybe even a “Fight of the Year” candidate. But the time for a rematch has passed — too much has happened since the first match.

Furthermore, Mayweather’s use of a Berto fight as some sort of measuring stick for worthiness is laughable, and it could make one ponder why Mayweather doesn’t want to immediately sign on for a rematch. Could the hustler be trying to sign a bigger, better fight, one that could possibly be the most momentous of the last 15 years, with a certain Filipino superstar?

Relax, I’m kidding.

But regardless, something else is at play here. The controversial nature of Floyd’s victory might normally warrant some kind of rematch, but those who understand boxing realized early on that Ortiz was totally outclassed and in trouble early, and there was only one possible outcome.

Ortiz, quite simply, deserves no rematch with Mayweather. He showed the world on Sept. 17 exactly what he was — a physically gifted but psychologically shattered individual who withers and fades under the heat of boxing’s brightest lights.

Some of the men who pull on the gloves are truly warriors, but others just like to play them on TV. Between his conduct in the Maidana fight and his throwing of the most blatant head-butt in the history of the sport during the Mayweather fight, Ortiz has showed that he belongs in the company of the latter. Nobody aside from that fighter’s most faithful of fans will want to see him back on the greatest of stages with the greatest of fighters.

There has also been some talk about Mayweather-Berto occurring instead, which is interesting only because Mayweather has not fought him yet. Berto, however, remains a fighter so unpolished that he was continually battered by Ortiz. Although he has the proverbial puncher’s chance, many of the 42 men that Mayweather has unceremoniously dismissed had that same chance and failed to capitalize on it. It’s doubtful Berto would be any different.

Even Oscar De La Hoya has joined the fray, and hinted last week that he might be tempted to take off his heels and make some sort of ill-advised comeback to fight the champ. However, the idea of De La Hoya and Mayweather getting back in the ring to repeat their May 2007 snoozefest appeals to most fans about as much as the idea of paying $60 to watch it does.

Unfortunately though, there are not many other fights available at welterweight for Mayweather, aside from the one great fight that neither he nor Manny Pacquiao seem all that intent on making (much to the chagrin of the boxing world.)

I won’t lie — they had me fooled initially, especially when they both signed on to fight the only boxers out there that somewhat emulate the other; Ortiz, a fast, strong southpaw with power in both hands, and Juan Manuel Marquez, a genius counterpuncher whose best attributes are his ring smarts and straight right hand. It appeared that Mayweather and Pacquaio might be sharpening their skills with risks just large enough to whet the public’s appetite for the mega-fight before finally signing on.

But, if Mayweather’s words are any indication, that fight is no closer to being made than it was at any time in the past two years. This in itself is a kick in the teeth to boxing’s most loyal fans, most of whom who sit by and watch helplessly as their brutally corrupt sport slowly suffocates itself under the weight of ego and money.

Honestly, both of these men could afford to take a page from one fighter they both knocked out: Ricky Hatton.

Regardless of what fans think about his boxing skill or career legacy, the Englishman who had “Pride in Battle” inked across his pale back was always, always looking to fight the best, even if that meant moving out of his weight class or taking a smaller share of the purse to do it.

What Hatton recognized — and I wonder if these two do — is that there’s but a small window during which one can achieve true greatness in this game. And that window, for both of these aging greats, is quickly closing.

Article posted on 02.10.2011



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