By Eric Raskin
Hall of Fame trainer and manager and HBO expert analyst Emanuel Steward, who will call the Mayweather-Ortiz fight on Saturday for HBO Pay-Per-View, offers his three keys to victory for each combatant:
1. Be prepared mentally for a challenge: Facing a young, aggressive, high-intensity fighter unlike anyone that he’s fought in a long time, Floyd has to be mentally ready for the reality of the situation. Probably the last opponent Floyd fought who was this aggressive was Jose Luis Castillo. But Castillo didn’t have the energy and the fire and the explosiveness that this man has. Floyd may have to dig down a little bit deeper than he’s had to recently, when he’s been able to stay in his comfort zone. If he’s not ready for a tough fight, if he’s gotten away from reality with so many people telling him how great he is all the time, then he might not be able to deal with adversity.
2. Place his punches accurately: Floyd can’t let himself get into an output contest, where he’s throwing just to keep pace with Ortiz. Instead, he needs to place his punches and try to slow the pace. He can’t let himself worry about out-hustling Ortiz. He should be doing it with quality instead of quantity.
3. Punch with power: If he’s going to discourage this kid, Floyd is going to have to punch with authority. He has to have full power on his punches. He can’t do that thing he sometimes does where he pulls back as he punches. Even Floyd himself said, “If I had really opened up all the way on Shane Mosley, I would probably have knocked him out.”
1. Force a faster pace: Ortiz isn’t going to be able to let loose quite like he did against Andre Berto, because of Floyd’s style. He’s going to see a guy feinting him and trying to counterpunch, so Ortiz is going to start a little slower, a little more cautious. And that’s okay. But I think as the fight goes on, he’s going to have to pick up his momentum. He’s got to try to make Floyd fight faster than he wants to. I think he’s going to have to get inside on him and push him, rough him up a lot. That’s what messes up a lot of veteran fighters; they’re used to fighting at a certain pace, and when you make them fight faster, they get more exhausted.
2. Don’t be in awe of Mayweather: I really think Ortiz is different than most of Mayweather’s opponents. This boy doesn’t give a damn about Floyd. When they were together, doing press conferences and TV appearances, Mayweather didn’t intimidate this guy like he does other guys. Victor has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Floyd has the superior skills, but Ortiz has the arrogance to match him.
3. Don’t get caught with the counter right hand: When Ortiz fights aggressively, he leaves his head a little high, which means he’s there to be caught with a counter right hand. Floyd has not knocked anybody out with that punch in a long time, but it’s still one of his best punches. Ortiz is physically strong enough to win, but he’s got to be careful not to walk into right hands.