Floyd Mayweather’s return to action against youthful hotshot Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17 at the MGM Grand will be a huge event and has been afforded one of the largest preview sections in years. It starts with Richard Slone’s stunning cover illustration of Mayweather and Ortiz firing punches at each other. Slone, who has been painting covers for The Ring for more than a decade, just keeps getting better and better. We can only hope that the fight itself turns out to be just as spectacular.
The lead story – “More than Just a Prelude to Pacquaio,” by Contributing Editor Eric Raskin – acknowledges that Manny Pacquiao’s aura hovers over the proceedings, but that Ortiz is far from a tune-up.
“Ortiz is undefeated as a welterweight,” writes Raskin. “Sure, he’s only had one fight as a full-fledged 147-pounder (plus a slew of slightly-over-the-junior-welter-limit bouts). But he claimed he was draining himself to make 140 pounds, and, wouldn’t you know, he looked like a completely different fighter against (Andre) Berto than he had in any previous engagements. If you combine increased physical comfort with what appears to be the clearing of a mental hurtle against Berto, then it might be that Ortiz is a greater threat to Mayweather’s undefeated record than most observers are giving him credit for.”
RingTV.com co-editor’s Douglas Fischer and Michael Rosenthal chip in with companion pieces titled “Five Things Ortiz Must Do to Beat Mayweather” and “Five Things Mayweather Must Do to Beat Ortiz.”
“Ortiz must be himself,” writes Fischer. “He must not fight out of character. The Mayweather mystique has caused many opponents to try to be something they are not when they step into the ring with him.”
Rosenthal stresses boxing skills in his observations about Mayweather: “Mayweather must make Ortiz eat his formidable jab from the opening bell to establish a hard-to-penetrate barrier and take advantage of his foe’s aggressiveness by allowing him to walk into right hands.”
Prolific contributor Don Stradley looks beyond the fight to its aftermath in twin features titled “What It Means if Ortiz Wins” and “What It Means if Mayweather Wins.”
“Of course, just because you beat a star doesn’t mean you become a star,” writes Stradley, “but Ortiz has some of the key ingredients that would make true stardom possible, namely a brash personality and an exciting, all-action style. That he occasionally gets dropped adds to the allure.”
When writing about Mayweather, Stradley emphasizes the fact that he will be assuming a new role against Ortiz: “On the surface, a win over Ortiz may not seem significant. Compared to Mayweather, Ortiz is a callow pup. But that’s exactly the intrigue behind the bout – it’s the first time in a long while that Mayweather has fought someone so much younger than himself. … While a win by Ortiz would shake things up, a Mayweather win might do nothing more than maintain the status quo.”
Contributing Editor Don Stewart delves into what the Mayweather-Ortiz fight means to the struggling Las Vegas economy in an insightful article titled “Economic Impact: Mayweather-Ortiz to Create Financial Uptick.”
“Few U.S. cities, if any, have felt the recession’s sting quite as deeply as Vegas,” writes Stewart. “So the big bucks that a big fight bring to Vegas are especially crucial during this period of economic recovery.”
While Mayweather will enter the ring the betting favorite, the history of the 147-pound division is rife with startling results, a phenomenon explored by regular contributor Lee Groves in “10 Great Welterweight Upsets.” The upsets range from Fritzie Zivic’s shocking victory over Henry Armstrong in 1940 to Carlos Baldomir’s totally unexpected win over Zab Judah to capture the welterweight championship in 2006.
“Ortiz can draw strength from the fact that many fighters in boxing history have achieved what he’s attempting,” writes Groves. “In the welterweight division alone, there have been many instances where underdogs have forced the sporting public to reassess their thinking by producing earth-shaking surprises.”
Also included in the preview package are the line-by-line records of both fighters and “By the Numbers,” a fun way to look at significant stats from a fresh angle.
The Mayweather-Ortiz preview material is far from the only thing in the issue:
In the wake of Wladimir Klitschko’s one-sided shellacking of David Haye, Senior Writer William Dettloff asks “How Good is Wladimir” in a fascinating feature subtitled, “The Ring Searches Recent History for the Answer.”
“Klitschko’s 14-fight win streak (10 of which have been recorded by knockout) and seemingly recent invincibility places him unquestionably at the top, along with his brother, among today’s heavyweights,” writes Dettloff. “But how about heavyweights from other eras? What heavyweights from the past possessed the qualities necessary to beat him?” The list of candidates under discussion includes: Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, and a number of surprises.
While most observers were impressed with Amir Khan’s knockout of Zab Judah, the modest attendance makes one wonder if Khan’s ability has overtaken his marketability. Don Stradley examines the state of affairs in “Mixed Blessing,” where he compares Khan to Ricky Hatton, the last British star to campaign regularly in the United States.
“Khan has yet to create anything like the mania that surrounded Hatton,” writes Stradley. “At Mandalay Bay the night he whipped Judah, there was none of the rowdy UK fanfare that we came to enjoy when Hatton fought. There was no singing. There were no blokes in the cheap seats banging cymbals and blowing horns. In fact, there weren’t many people there at all.”
It was open season on David Haye following his pitiful performance against Wladimir Klitschko, and columnists Jeff Ryan, Ivan Goldman, and Jim Bagg all take their shots at him.
Ryan: “Haye’s problem was that he fought too cautiously. If he had only displayed the same fury as the bodyguards who were literally tossing aside British fans hoping to backslap Haye on his walk to the ring, we’d have a new heavyweight champion today.”
Goldman: “Haye invented an entirely original strategy: When he found himself close enough to get hit, he sank to the canvas for safety.”
Bagg (writing about Haye’s injured toe): “Sure, he had a piggy that went to market and the piggy that stayed home and the piggy that had roast beef and the piggy that had none. But he was at a major disadvantage without the piggy that went ‘wee-wee-wee-wee’ all the way home.”
In “Fight Doctor,” Dr. Margaret Goodman explains why body shots hurt so much and are often as debilitating as blows to the head, while Chris Richards profiles Susi Kentikian, the reigning “Killer Queen” of German boxing in “The Sweeter Science.”
This issue’s “Showdown” takes a detailed look at the upcoming heavyweight bout between Vitali Klitschko and former cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek, which takes place in Poland on Sept. 9. The Ring scrutinizes both boxers in seven different categories, asks some pertinent questions and picks a winner.
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