Monday, September 5, 2011

Nothing Remains Perfect Forever

Unbeaten in his professional boxing career, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. beleives he will remain so after he meets Victor Ortiz later this month in Las Vegas.

The anger is still there. So is the bling, the Maybach and the mansion. And let’s forget about the thick wads of one-hundred dollar bills.

During the year or so that Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. has been away, not much changed in the sport of boxing. Promoters still wage their war of words on the Internet, the alphabet sanctioning cartels continue to stupefy, Manny Pacquiao is still the champion of champions and HBO still has the deepest pockets of anyone.

One thing, however, may have changed. It is imperceptible, really. But if you look closely you can see it. It’s like paint that slowly fades from the heat of the sun, cracks a bit with the changing of the seasons and then ultimately peels away. It’s a process that takes time and is not always apparent.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is aging - because nothing can remain perfect forever.

He has slight lines on his brow now and his eyes are not as clear. The muscles are not as large or well defined. Watch him on the mitts with his uncle, trainer and former world boxing champion, Roger Mayweather and the movement is a bit stilted, more forced and less natural. There are slight hesitations. Shane Mosley showed that Mayweather, who stands flat-footed now more than ever, can be hit and he can be hurt.

Proof that Shane Mosley did indeed land a punch against Mayweather in their May 2010 bout. This right hand landed in the second round and staggered Mayweather, albeit briefly.

While his ring record is still pristine at 41-0 (25)KO, in a professional career that began way back in 1996, he’s not the same fighter that he once was. That would be impossible, especially in light of the fact that reflexes, quickness and speed all dull with the encroachment of Father Time. He has only stepped into the bright light of the squared circle four times in as many years. Ask Sugar Ray Leonard what that does to a fighter’s ability.

“I don’t think I can lose,” says Mayweather, who has now blown out the candles on thirty-four birthday cakes. “They have to come up with a gameplan to beat me, there’s no gameplan how to beat me.”

The opponent on Sept. 17 is WBC welterweight titlist “Vicious” Victor Ortiz, a southpaw banger who is a decade younger. Still green compared to Mayweather, what Ortiz lacks in experience he makes up for with aggressiveness and desire. He is the youngest opponent Mayweather will have stepped into the ring with since Diego “Chico” Corrales whom he faced and defeated by stoppage in 2001.

When asked if anything concerns him in regards to facing an opponent who is younger, bigger and that punches harder, Mayweather seemed to be at a loss for words. There have been no occasions recently when the man in the opposing corner possessed all of those attributes.

“I don’t know,” said Mayweather, who smiled and paused before continuing. “Victor Ortiz is a good little fighter. I’ve got nothing negative to say about him. He’s a young, strong champion.”

Young and eager, Victor Ortiz welcomes the chance to prove himself against Mayweather's talent.

While not dismissive of Ortiz, Mayweather and his team simply perceive him as another evening at the show. But it is interesting that when asked, Mayweather claims he cannot point to anything specific pertaining to the strengths or weaknesses of Ortiz.

His uncle Roger claims he has never really seen Ortiz fight and also cannot tell you what he does or does not do well. “To be honest with you, I don’t know ‘cause I’ve never seen him,” he says. “I’ve seen him on TV, but I’ve never actually seen him fight. I don’t really know what he do often or what he don’t do often. I don’t know. I haven’t seen him enough to figure him out.”

By the time the night of the fight rolls around, it will have been over 500 days of inactivity for Mayweather. Days that have seen nights spent at betting windows and casino parlors, inside dark nightclubs, aboard yachts in Biscayne Bay and hanging out with good friend Fifty Cent. There have also been days spent in courtrooms in front of judges. He has been seen putting a flame to a one-hundred dollar bill.

When Roger, who does not push the panic button quickly, was asked if the sporadic forays into the ring is a concern for the well-being of his nephew, he said it could be. “Well, you always concerned about the rust because I mean, when you ain’t active, you know…there’s a difference between when you active and you ain’t active. Since he ain’t been active that much…this fight will be a good tune-up for him.”

Mayweather and Ortiz had the chance to size up one another during a press conference to hype their upcoming pay-per-view title fight.

Many see this as much more than a tune-up bout for a potential bout against Manny Pacquiao in 2012. Ortiz is a serious fighter with much still to achieve. Larger than Mayweather, he packs a stronger punch as his 22 knockouts in 29 wins proves. There is little not to like about the youngster who wears his heart on his sleeve. If he is to make his move, he knows it has to come in less than three weeks. At this point in their lives, it could be Ortiz that has much more to fight for.

However, Mayweather, who will now often make an effort to be kinder and gentler in dealing with the press and fans feels that he has seen all of this before.

“I’m ‘Money’ Mayweather,” he says with pride. “I’ve been here since I was nineteen, I’m thirty-four now. I’ve got to tell you this. I tell every fighter this: It looks different when you on the outside. It looks totally different on the outside. All I gotta’ say is one thing: They put forty-one in front of me and forty one came up short.”

But there is also one other thing the Mayweathers should keep in mind. Nothing remains perfect forever.

September 2011

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