In the weeks leading up to the HBO PPV mega-fight on September 17th, the fighters will be sharing their thoughts with the fans on the Inside HBO Boxing blog. In the first installment, with the WBC welterweight title on the line, Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather look back on their first championships—Ortiz's from earlier this year, and Mayweather's over a decade ago.
It was amazing. It was what I was waiting for and working for my entire life. When you're a young fighter you always think about that first championship when you can finally make a name for yourself and tell all of the other amateur fighters, hey, I'm a champion now.
You know you go through so much in boxing from youth leagues to the intense training and it all is for this one goal of getting a belt. The adrenaline running through my body was like one I have never felt before. When it was over I just felt so relieved and almost in shock that it all just happened. You know as a boxer you train for months for one fight that can be as short as one round if you don't play it right. Winning your first belt is just truly something you will never forget because at that point your mindset changes.
At first I was chasing after the belt. I was doing anything I could to achieve something that many boxers before me have. Now it's about defending my belt. Knowing that my opponents want it as bad as I wanted it but still training as hard as possible in order to never give it up again.
I was going up against Andre Berto who was the heavy favorite at the time. It went 12 rounds and I think I got him down twice, maybe three times. It was tough but I knew I had to win that fight in order to get on the map. Nobody thought I had a chance against him. He was undefeated and I was kind of coming out of nowhere. Through my training and in the weeks coming up though I knew I could beat him if I just went out there and played my game. The worst thing a boxer can do is allow for his opponent to dictate the tone of the fight. I set the tone that I was going to attack him and that I wasn't going to down easy just because he was supposed to win.
After I lost to Maidana and everyone was questioning my heart I was pissed. I fought with a broken wrist against a good fighter and when I challenged him to a rematch and he refused I was still the one with no courage? I was the one with no balls? Well now I'm the one with the belt and I'm not giving it up to anybody.
There is no better feeling than winning, but winning a world title is indescribable. I would know because I have won all of my fights and am a six-time world champion in five weight classes.
I won my first championship over a decade ago. Everyone knows boxing is in my blood and I wanted a title shot as soon as I turned pro in '96, but I had to wait for that opportunity until October 3, 1998 when I fought Genaro Hernandez for the WBC Super Featherweight title. I was young and hungry.
The fight was in Las Vegas and Hernandez was undefeated in the weight class at this time. It was a good fight, but when Hernandez threw in the towel in 8th round, I knew that the word "champion" would always be attached to my name. That was Hernandez's last professional fight. It's sad to say that Hernandez passed away this past year at age 45. I respected him as a man and as a fighter. He gave me my first opportunity to win a world title. He will be missed and may he rest in peace.
I was a young professional and rising star who fought anyone they asked me to fight to help me get to where I am today. That fight was a key moment for me and helped me set my path to the rest of my championships and the boxing greatness I have achieved in my career. I continue that same motto today as I have always been willing and ready to face the best opposition available for me to fight. On September 17, I am facing a hungry, strong champion in Victor Ortiz.
Ortiz is a world class fighter and the current welterweight champion, but I am the best. I am back in the gym training 24/7 and am excited to fight on September 17. So tune in to HBO Pay-Per-View and be part of another Mayweather experience. Ortiz better be ready because I will be. I am very blessed to have the career I have in boxing.