War of Words: Mayweather Forces the Fight at Final Press Conference

By Eric Raskin

Photo: Will HartThe three judges who will be sitting ringside at the MGM Grand on Saturday night weren’t scoring Wednesday’s final press conference at the Hollywood Theatre. But that doesn’t mean the press conference doesn’t count.

When Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz faced off via their respective microphones, both were looking for that mental edge, that minor victory that will pave the way for a major one three days later. And just like in a fight, both seemed to enter with a game plan but were prepared to make the necessary adjustments.

Photo: Will HartMayweather went on the offensive first, coming after Ortiz’s trainer, Danny Garcia, after Garcia insinuated that Mayweather is a dirty fighter.

“We all know how you fight,” Garcia said. “Yeah, I win,” was Mayweather’s snappy retort. Then he proceeded to assert himself as the A-side and the alpha dog. “All these people are here because of me. I’m pay-per-view. I’m doing the numbers.”

When it was Ortiz’s turn, he tried to play it cool, opening with the classic defensive strategy, levity. “Finally, man, I was falling asleep over there,” Ortiz joked as he took the podium nearly an hour after the press conference began.

But Mayweather was in no mood for humor, and while Ortiz tried to take command of the room, he couldn’t help but notice Mayweather talking over top of him in hushed tones. “It’s going to be easy work,” Floyd insisted. He was allowed to talk trash, but his friends and family in the audience apparently weren’t; when they tried, Mayweather silenced them, saying, “Carry yourselves with class.”

Photo: Will HartAnd that’s when Ortiz adjusted his game plan, big-time. He was about 30 seconds into what was seemingly shaping up to be a lengthy speech, when his emotions suddenly took over. “Oh, we’re talking about class?” he said in disbelief. Ortiz paused a moment, and ended his discourse abruptly. “Saturday night, I’m going to put you on your ass!”

Mayweather slid to the podium with the calm of a man who’s been here a hundred times before.

“I don’t have to brag and boast about my accolades, it speaks for itself,” Mayweather said, effectively bragging and boasting about his accolades.

“I’m going to go in there with class and leave with class,” he continued. Then Mayweather contradicted himself by saying something slightly less than classy. “I know the real truth, that his father didn’t leave,” Mayweather said, perpetuating the occasionally spoken rumor that parts of Ortiz’s backstory are exaggerated, but never expanding on his assertion.

By the time the two fighters were nose to nose, posing for staredown photos and jawing at each other, you got the sense their dislike for each other was very real. But it’s hard to know for sure; boxing press events are often one part reality, one part performance art.

Whichever this was, Mayweather was the clear aggressor in their mental scrap. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he scored any points.

Also on hand at the press conference were undercard fighters Erik Morales, Pablo Cesar Cano, Jessie Vargas, and Josesito Lopez, plus Canelo Alvarez and Alfonso Gomez had their say via satellite from Los Angeles. For more on all of those matchups, see our Undercard Overview.