LAS VEGAS — After weighing in at 146.5 and 147 pounds, respectively, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and WBC welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz stood with their faces inches apart, their mouths moving at a rapid-fire pace as they shouted at one another before an enthusiastic, pro-Ortiz crowd of about 4,000 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday afternoon.
“Victor just kept telling Floyd Mayweather, ‘You know you’re going down, you know you’re going down,’” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, who, at one point, stood between the two fighters.
“I mean, there was no raising of the voice. Just calm. With no hype. Just like, ‘You know you’re going down.’ I’ve never seen a fighter in this magnitude of a fight who displayed such total self-control as Ortiz did. He just does not seem fazed by the magnitude of the event.”
The 24-year-old Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) will be in the biggest fight of his career against the unbeaten 34-year-old Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) at the MGM on Saturday night.
Schaefer had been a part of combustible weigh-ins for the Amir Khan-Paulie Malignaggi junior welterweight match-up in May of last year, and also at the WBC lightheavyweight bout between RING champion Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal this past May.
By comparison, the one between Mayweather and Ortiz was less violent, but it was, nevertheless, combative.
“I think that initially, when Victor came up on to the stage, that Floyd was on his side and walking there,” said Schaefer. “So I guess that Victor felt that he needed to walk onto Floyd’s side. Each started to walk into the other one’s space. Victor was very calm and very confident.”
Finally, Mayweather, seemingly unable to accept Ortiz’s invasion of his space, grabbed the titleholder’s neck in a choke hold with his right hand before the boxers were separated.
“They were talking trash, and they started pushing, and that led to grabbing. And when I saw that, I felt that it was time to jump in and I found myself in the line of fire again,” said Schaefer. “Always involved in fights and I don’t even get paid for it. There is something wrong with that picture.”
Ortiz then walked off of the stage, grabbing his crotch with one hand, his other pointing at the crowd that chanted his name.
“A lot of people felt that once Victor Ortiz showed up to Las Vegas and saw the thousands of people at the weigh-in, and Mayweather there, and the entire atmosphere, that that was when the nerves were going to set in,” said Schaefer.
“I’m glad that this didn’t get any more troublesome, but I felt that they were getting closer to their faces and started to touch each other, so that started to get annoying. That’s when we decided to aggressively break it up. Maybe I should become a referee.”
“That was a good weigh-in too,” said Pascal, a former WBC lightheavyweight beltholder. “But when I fought Hopkins, that thing was crazy.”
FLOYD MAYWEATHER SR.’S IN THE HOUSE
“I saw him there. He was right in front of the stage. He was close to the stage. He was standing there near Floyd’s side. I did not see Floyd acknowledging him,” said Schaefer.
“Floyd Sr. asked if Oscar was going to be there, I said that he would be here tomorrow. He said that he wanted to thank Oscar for taking up for him.”
Father and son have an adversarial relationship that was chronicled during the first episode of HBO Sports’ 24/7 series.
That show ends with the unbeaten son and his one-time trainer father ripping each other with harsh, obscenity-laced language, re-igniting a thought-to-be smoothed-over feud that had existed for years.
The son once booted the father from his training facility, evicted him from a home that he owned and repossessed a car he was driving.
They reportedly didn’t have a cordial conversation for nearly seven years, a time during which Floyd Sr. once even threatened to train Oscar De La Hoya to defeat his son, later refusing to do so.
Their relationship had softened somewhat leading up to Floyd Jr.’s unanimous, 12-round decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in September of 2009, when Floyd Sr. was part of his son’s camp.
Floyd Sr. also was there in support of Floyd Jr. when his son unanimously decisioned Shane Mosley in May, even saying that he had “no problem” with his younger brother, Roger, training his son.
ANOTHER MONEY MILESTONE FOR MAYWEATHER
Mayweather is coming off a unanimous decision over Shane Mosley in May of last year, for which he earned what was then a career-high guarantee of 22.5 million.
In the end, Mayweather pocketed a career-high $40 million, according to his CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe.
So the $25 million is yet another milestone for Mayweather.
In a clash of junior welterweights, Jesse Vargas (16-0, 10 KOs) will get $100,000 to $30,000 for his opponent Jessosito Lopez (29-3, 17 KOs).
Morales and Cano weighed in at 140, with Vargas coming in at the contracted 142, and Lopez at 140.5.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com