Last We Saw Mayweather and Cotto ...

By Eric Raskin

Most of the time when a boxer is launching his fists at another man’s head, it’s strictly business, nothing personal. But there are some occasions when it’s very, very personal. Sometimes we witness the release of personal emotion built up over the course of years. Other times it’s an intense feeling that’s only been brewing for a few seconds.

In their most recent fights, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather each rode this emotion into a moment of personal revenge, albeit under dramatically different circumstances.

 


 

Cotto’s December 3, 2011, victory over Antonio Margarito was the conclusion of a three-year, four-month odyssey for the Puerto Rican warrior. Back in 2008, he’d suffered his first defeat, via 11th-round stoppage, at the hands of Margarito. But from the moment Margarito’s hand-wraps scandal began unraveling a few months later, Cotto suspected he’d been defeated unfairly. The rematch was about redemption. It was about Cotto proving he could take Margarito’s punch if he knew for sure there were no foreign objects behind it. It was a chance for Cotto to add a win and, to a certain extent, erase a loss.

Over 10 fiercely competitive rounds at Madison Square Garden, Cotto did precisely that. Like their first fight, the action was furious and every punch carried drama. In front of 21,239 screaming fans, Cotto and Margarito added a fitting second—and presumably final—chapter to their rivalry.

 

On September 17, 2011, Mayweather secured a measure of justice of his own. But his revenge was for an act perpetrated only 30 seconds earlier. In the heat of battle, Victor Ortiz lost his composure and launched his head at Mayweather’s, a flagrant foul that cost Ortiz a point. Ortiz apologized. Then he apologized again. Then referee Joe Cortez ordered the fighters to box, Ortiz insisted upon apologizing a third time, and Mayweather, his lip bloodied by the foul, made the emotional (but 100-percent legal) decision to throw punches at a man who had dropped his guard. A left hook buzzed Ortiz. A straight right hand flattened him. Fourth-round knockout.

It was an ending that got the sports world buzzing. For some, it was further evidence of Mayweather’s greatness. For others, it was further reason to hate him. Either way, the explosive conclusion solidified this as one of the most memorable rumbles that Mayweather has ever been in.

 

CompuBox PunchStat Report: Mayweather KO 4 Ortiz

By CompuBox

Photo: Will HartMayweather landed 24 power punches in round four, the last two dropped the unsuspecting Ortiz for the count.

Mayweather KO 4 Ortiz: There’s A Sucker (Punch) Born Every Minute

By Eric Raskin

Photo: Will Hart

You can't let your guard down in the boxing ring. Especially if the guy across the ring from you is Floyd Mayweather.

Victor Ortiz learned this lesson in the hardest way possible on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, paying the price for dropping his hands when Mayweather landed a perfectly legal, if not entirely gentlemanly, two-punch combination to produce a sensational, controversial fourth-round knockout. READ MORE ON HBO.COM...

The Mayweather-Ortiz Fight Week Flurry

By Eric Raskin

Photo: Will HartAs a wild week of commotion, promotion and emotion gives way to Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz showdown, let’s take a look through what everyone’s been buzzing about—from the HBO.com insiders to the fight fans following along:

Mayweather and Ortiz didn’t arrive at this mega-event by accident. They each scored significant wins on the road to “Star Power,” and now find themselves jockeying for position in the upper reaches of the talent-loaded welterweight division. With his sublime skills, Mayweather is the consensus favorite in the fight. But not everyone sees it that way. HBO expert analyst Emanuel Steward broke down the strategic intricacies of the fight and gives Ortiz an excellent chance, and not surprisingly, Ortiz’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya feels the same way—and has the first-hand experience fighting Mayweather to validate his viewpoints.

But there are countless different ways to analyze a fight beyond just what the industry insiders have to say. You can explore the finer points of the matchup. You can crunch the CompuBox numbers. You can even try to figure out who won the verbal joust at the final press conference.

And when it’s all said and done, you make your predictions. The experts had their say, and unanimously went with the chalk and tabbed Mayweather to win. The fans were a little more divided. On Twitter, @rcollick and @crucifixio picked Mayweather via varying margins, but @odogg33 went with the underdog Ortiz. Meanwhile, on the comment boards on the HBO Inside Boxing blog, Elvin T. took the Ortiz side as well, predicting “Floyd is gonna be looking up at the lights thinking, WTF happened?” But commenter Ish A. envisions a knockout win for Mayweather, claiming “Victor Ortiz is nervous, has no defense, and come Saturday will receive a boxing lesson of a lifetime!”

In addition to the 12 rounds (or less) of Mayweather vs. Ortiz, there’s plenty of before and after to consider. Prior to the main event, we’ll see an intriguing undercard, featuring a plethora of popular Mexican and Mexican-American fighters—many of whom, like Mayweather, come from boxing families. And after the main event is over, attention will inevitably turn to what’s next. No matter the outcome, Manny Pacquiao’s name will be on fight fans’ minds. Two HBO.com contributors explored this in detail on different corners of the web, with Chris Mannix tackling the Pacquiao factor on SI.com and Kieran Mulvaney experiencing Floyd’s many personalities on ESPN.com.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The opening bell of Mayweather vs. Ortiz is almost here, and there’s nothing more thrilling than that moment when fight week gives way to the fight itself.

The Most Intense Moments from 24/7

By Eric Raskin

It’s been heralded as the greatest reality show on TV, and like any show in that genre, it’s built to entertain. But 24/7 also delivers scenes that are stunningly authentic and revealing. Here are our picks for the most intensely real moment from each episode of 24/7: Mayweather-Ortiz, presented in the reverse order of how they were aired:


Episode 4: The Son Sets (18:30)

With a 10-word sentence uttered on the final episode of the series, Mayweather put a heartbreaking coda (for now) on his troubled relationship with his father: “If me and my dad never speak again, I’m okay.” Wow. Of course, this relationship has seemed beyond repair in the past and proven (temporarily) reparable, so all hope is never lost. Still, don’t count on a heartfelt in-ring hug between Sr. and Jr. after the fight tonight.

Episode 3: The Skype’s the Limit (19:17)

Mayweather took the time to chat via Skype with a unit of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, and he seemed, initially, to be taking his responsibility to entertain, inspire, and motivate the troops very seriously. But it eventually devolved into an uncomfortably inappropriate episode of MTV’s Cribs, with “Money” showing off his relatively trivial car collection to a group of men off fighting a war. The two sides of Mayweather’s personality both made their presence felt in this awkwardly unforgettable scene.

Episode 2: Ortiz’s Back Story (16:57)

You know that big black tattoo that stretches across the entirety of Ortiz’s upper back? He explained the story behind it: It originally read “Ortiz,” but after a moment of realization about his father, the man from whom he inherited that surname, he angrily covered those five letters up, essentially erasing his estranged father’s imprint. (By the way, in trying to pick an intense moment from Episode 2, this one juuuust edged out Cornelius Boza-Edwards and Roger Mayweather playing Abbott and Costello at a sub shop with their “Sammie”-“salmon” routine.)

Episode 1: “And Mother%&*#$@, I’m Not No Junior” (23:10)

If you saw it, you’ll never forget it. It was the most jaw-dropping scene in 24/7 history: Floyd Jr. and Floyd Sr., seemingly from out of nowhere, getting into a verbal blowup in which the son tore down every ounce of self-worth his father thought he had. It ended with “Big Floyd” kicked out of the gym, maybe forever, and his superstar son essentially disowning him by declaring, “I’m not no junior!” For better or worse, this is why Floyd Mayweather and 24/7 have proven the perfect match for each other.

Ortiz Fans Turn Out in Force at Weigh-In

Photo: Will HartFloyd Mayweather is the betting favorite. But if the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday afternoon is any indication, Victor Ortiz will definitely be the crowd favorite.

Photo: Photo: Will HartWith ring announcer Michael Buffer and comedians Kevin Hart and Paul Rodriguez acting as emcees, the fans booed every mention of Mayweather and exploded for every utterance of the underdog Ortiz’s name. Not that anyone should be surprised that the Mexican-American fighter would own the crowd on Mexican Independence Day weekend. Ortiz brought fans both from his native Garden City, Kansas and his adopted hometown of Oxnard, California, not to mention those without any geographical allegiance who simply support Ortiz—or are praying for somebody to finally defeat Mayweather.

It was Mayweather—the title challenger, ostensibly, but the man with more to “defend” in a sense—who entered the arena first, looking relaxed and vaguely dapper in a forest-green track suit. “Vicious Victor” came out next, to resounding chants of “Or-tiz! Or-tiz!” from the approximate crowd of 4,000, though it’s uncertain how much of his fan support he could hear with his oversized noise-canceling headphones on.

Photo: Photo: Will HartThere was a brief discussion between the fighters over what the weigh-in order would be, and Mayweather apparently won the debate, as it was Ortiz who stripped down to his boxer shorts first. He looked chiseled and confident as he scaled the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. But then Mayweather and his famous eight-pack of abs showed what “chiseled” really looks like, and Buffer announced his weight as 146½.

Ortiz played to the crowd, and his supporters let loose with a chant of “41-and-1,” which is how Mayweather’s record would read if he loses on Saturday night. The crowd reached new decibel levels moments later, when Mayweather and Ortiz engaged in what has become something of a tradition: the nose-to-nose, jaw-to-jaw verbal joust that can only end when managers, trainers, and bodyguards yank them apart.

This time, however, Mayweather got his right hand around Ortiz’s neck for a moment before they were separated. It’s hard to know whether that inappropriate use of hands gave him the upper hand mentally going into Saturday’s showdown, or whether it will spur Ortiz on to an emotional edge.

On the scales for the undercard fights: Erik Morales and Pablo Cesar Cano both weighed the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds, and the 21-year-old Cano didn’t seem fazed at all by the moment … For a non-title bout with a 142-pound limit, Jessie Vargas came in at 142, Josesito Lopez at 140½, and an intense staredown gave way to shoving that did nothing to diminish the sense that this could be fiery battle … And at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a smiling Saul “Canelo” Alvarez scaled 153½ and a deadly serious Alfonso Gomez came in at 152½ for their junior middleweight bout.

CompuBox Analysis: Victor Ortiz vs. Floyd Mayweather

The bout between Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is rich with story lines. For Ortiz, it's his chance to become a crossover superstar while burying the memories of his disheartening KO loss to Marcos Maidana. For Mayweather, this fight may produce the definitive preamble to the Pacquiao showdown, for Ortiz shares Pacquiao's left-handedness and sudden one-punch KO power. Mayweather is a better than 6 1/2-1 favorite.

Will fans witness the birth of a new PPV money machine and the end of Mayweather's perfect record or will they see another exhibition of "Money's" exquisite skills? Their CompuBox histories offer these potential factors:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Victor Ortiz vs. Floyd Mayweather on HBO.com

The Anatomy of Strategy: Breaking Down Mayweather & Ortiz

By Eric Raskin

If all you’re watching when two boxers compete are the four fists flying, you’re only seeing part of the picture. Here are the physical elements to keep an eye on (including the fists, of course) when Mayweather and Ortiz square off, with additional strategic insight provided by their head trainers, Roger Mayweather and Danny Garcia:

Floyd Mayweather

1) Roll and Control
Mayweather’s famous shoulder-roll defense has frustrated one opponent after another, but Garcia has a strategy for it, especially if Floyd tries to slip and roll with his back to the ropes. “If he goes to the ropes, we can go to the body or the head, hit him anywhere,” Garcia said. “Victor will get in close and land his uppercuts, that’s our best chance.” 

2) Pointed Allegations
Garcia caused a stir at the final press conference when he accused Mayweather of fighting dirty. He elaborated, “When he fought Ricky Hatton, he was using the elbow so much, too much. Joe Cortez was the ref and I don’t know why he didn’t take a point away from him.” Roger Mayweather countered, “He didn’t knock out Ricky Hatton because he used his elbows. He knocked him out with that [expletive] check-hook.” Cortez is the ref on Saturday night, and his reaction – if indeed Mayweather does throw elbows – could impact the fight’s outcome.

3) Counter Balance
As HBO analyst Emanuel Steward explained, Ortiz has to be wary of Mayweather’s quick counter right hand. Garcia agrees. “He’s pretty fast, and definitely his best punch is the right-hand counterpunch. So we’re going to get inside, that’s our advantage. If Victor goes inside, Floyd can’t counterpunch him.”

4) Forward or Reverse?
Mayweather is one of the few fighters on the planet who can win a fight backing up. But he stepped out of character against Shane Mosley and marched his opponent down. So in which direction will he move against Ortiz? “He’s going to have to run,” Garcia opined. “He likes to run. He never stays in front of you. He did against Mosley, but that’s because Mosley didn’t have nothing.” Uncle Roger doesn’t see Floyd as a runner. “If Ortiz is going to back my nephew up, I want to see it. I’ve never seen anybody do it to him.”

Victor Ortiz

1) Weak Whiskers?
Ortiz hit the canvas twice against Marcos Maidana and twice against Andre Berto, usually from single punches, but he also got up every time. So is his chin a glaring weakness? And does it matter against Mayweather, who isn’t known for his heavy hands? As you’d expect, Roger thinks that chin will prove problematic for Ortiz. “If he goes down this fight, he ain’t going to get his ass back up,” Mayweather insisted.

2) The Heart of the Matter
Will Ortiz ever completely live down his surrender against Marcos Maidana? Certainly, he didn’t fill fans with confidence by fighting defensively in some of his post-Maidana fights, including his disappointing draw with Lamont Peterson. But Garcia said that had nothing to do with heart. “In those fights, people thought that he was moving around because he was scared. He was not scared. He has a big heart. I told him to move that way, to box. That was strategy.”

3) The Southpaw Factor
Nobody likes fighting lefties. Mayweather has faced six of them prior to Ortiz, and he did get hurt by DeMarcus Corley and struggled mightily in the early rounds against Zab Judah. “I really think Zab Judah would have beat him, but Zab got tired,” Garcia said. “This time, Mayweather is facing a lefthander with a lot more power, who’s younger.” But Ortiz isn’t what you’d call a traditionally tricky southpaw, and he tends to square his shoulders, so his stance should prove no more than a minor factor.

4) A Leg Up
Swinging and missing at Mayweather all night can be a frustrating exercise. It can also be exhausting. And when you get tired, you lose your legs. Ortiz is one of the best-conditioned fighters in the world, a guy who casually runs half-marathons between fights just for the hell of it. If Ortiz has the strong, youthful legs to fight hard all 12 rounds, he might be able to succeed where older fighters like Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez failed.

Trading Shots: Raskin & Mulvaney Play the Percentages

By Eric Raskin

CompuBox has compiled an innovative new data set for HBO.com, ranking active fighters according to a “+/-” stat derived from their offensive and defensive connect percentages over their last five fights. HBO.com’s Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney stepped away from the free media buffet long enough to huddle up in the MGM Grand press room and dissect what the numbers mean and how they might impact several upcoming bouts:

Raskin: The first thing that jumps out at me, Kieran, is that Floyd Mayweather’s score of +30 is more than double the next closest figure. Does this surprise you? And does it make a case that he’s the best boxer in the business?

Mulvaney: What’s interesting to me is that he is number one in both columns. It isn’t a surprise that opponents have a lower connect percentage against him than against anyone, but it’s very interesting that his own connect percentage is so high. It shows how precise, how selective, and how smart he is with his punches.

Raskin: I notice you avoided my question about whether these numbers suggest he might be boxing’s best, and I’m not letting you duck that one. If there’s another surprise on here, it’s that Manny Pacquiao is only a +8. What do you make of that?

Mulvaney: I do think Mayweather is the bext boxer, if not necessarily the best fighter, of this generation. I’m not terribly surprised by Pacquiao’s numbers; he’s always taken one to land one, which is one reason why fans love him.

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