LOS ANGELES — A huge crowd of fans and an high-tech outdoor stage setup that had the production value and pageantry of the MTV Music Video Awards helped energize the West Coast press conference for the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight to a higher level than the kick-off media event for the September 17 showdown that took place in New York City on Tuesday.
At least 500 fans turned out for the nighttime event that was held on Nokia Plaza at L.A. LIVE on Wednesday, and most of them were loud and proud Ortiz supporters.
The normally mellow welterweight titleholder, who makes his home in nearby Oxnard, Calif., admitted to receiving an adrenalin boost from the boisterous cheers of his fans.
The lively environment exposed the fiery, sometimes surly side of the 24-year-old southpaw‘s personality. Ortiz, who dropped a few “MF” bombs during his turn behind the podium, exchanged shoves, head bumps and some nasty words with Mayweather during their heated pre-conference staredown.
“I was going to smack him,” Ortiz told RingTV.com after the press conference. “I was going to lay him out. He said something I didn’t like. He said something like ‘You don’t got this.’ No, man, I do got this. I’m not Juan Manuel Marquez, or Shane Mosley, I’m the WBC Ccamp and nobody’s going to take my title.”
Ortiz says Mayweather’s talk wanting to fight Manny Pacquiao next during the two press conferences put the sizable chip on his shoulder that was on display Wednesday night.
“It’s a slap in my face to talk about Manny Pacquiao at this press conference. If he’s overlooking me he’s got a problem. He’s got to fight me first and I was born for this moment. Nobody ever gave me a chance to get to this position but now I’m here and I’m taking it by the horns.”
Ortiz wouldn’t discuss how he plans to deal with Mayweather’s difficult style and near-flawless ring generalship because he has yet to begin his training camp. However, he said the camp for the biggest fight of his career would not be any more intense than it usually is.
“It’s just going to be another camp for me,” Ortiz said. “I train hard and come 100-percent ready for everyone I fight. I know Mayweather is no joke but neither was Andre Berto; neither was Nate Campbell; neither was Vivian Harris, and we saw what happened in those fights.
“Mayweather’s speed and his style do not worry me. Whatever style he wants to bring, I’ll be ready for it. If he wants to box, we’ll box, if he wants to brawl, we can do it. Believe me, I’m ready for this.”
Ortiz said Mayweather has been his goal since the start of the year.
“Three months before I fought Berto I marched into the Golden Boy (Promotions) offices and I said ‘I want Berto.’ Everybody’s jaw dropped. Before they could even say anything about that, I said ‘And after I beat Berto I want Floyd Mayweather.’”
Mayweather said the newly crowned 147-pound beltholder was not on his radar until the night of the Berto fight.
“I had absolutely no plans on fighting the winner of that fight,” Mayweather told RingTV.com after the Wednesday media event. “I just happened to be in New York City, hanging out with my friend Curtis Jackson (rapper 50 Cent) that weekend. He’s got a house in Connecticut so we went there to party that Saturday and somebody told us there was a fight at the casino. I had forgot that Berto and Ortiz were fighting until somebody reminded us. We went up there and it was a hell of fight. It motivated me to get back into the ring.”
Mayweather said he was impressed with Ortiz, who dropped Berto twice and got up from two knockdowns to win a thrilling 12-round fight of the year candidate on April 16. The 34-year-old veteran said criticism of the advanced age of his last two opponents, Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley, influenced his decision to fight Ortiz.
“I wanted a young, strong fighter,” Mayweather said. “When I beat Marquez and Mosley everybody said they were over the hill. OK, so now I’m fighting someone younger than me.”
Mayweather said Ortiz’s style and relative inexperience should make for an entertaining fight when the two meet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I’ll admit that I wasn’t impressed with my performance against Marquez,” he said of the one-sided unanimous decision he scored over the lightweight champ in September of 2009. “I say that because I should have knocked him out and I didn’t get it. But he had been active and I hadn’t and he’s also been around the sport of boxing for so long that he just knows how to survive.
“Now, if you give me a strong, young fighter who comes to fight, and isn’t going to try to survive, like Ricky Hatton, I’ll give the fans a good fight and believe me, he’ll get knocked out like Ricky did.”
Mayweather said the fire Ortiz showed during the staredown was a good sign that he’ll get the fight he wants on Sept. 17. However, he said he had to tell the young man to tone it down a bit for the sake of the promotion
“I told him ‘Relax and watch your head, man,” Mayweather said. “’If you mess around and cut me with head butt me we’re not going to have a fight.’”
Photos / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos.com / Golden Boy Promotions