Feature Story

Mayweather free of ring rust

Story by Andreas Hale

Photos by Chris Cozzone

It’s been sixteen long months since Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has stepped into the ring. The last time we saw the five-division champion in action resulted in a one-sided drubbing of “Sugar” Shane Mosley where Mayweather was criticized for facing a fighter well past his prime. Those complaints should grind to a halt when “Money” faces a fighter a decade his junior when he faces “Vicious” Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on September 17th. Considering the age difference, Mayweather is confident that his experience and overall skill will be the difference maker on Saturday night. That little concept called ring rust is the furthest thing from his mind.

“I haven’t showed ring rust thus far,” Mayweather tells FightNews about taking long breaks away from the sport. “Everybody’s entitled to say certain things, but I just try to focus on going out there and doing my job.”

Never has Mayweather come into a fight being considered the “old man” in the ring, but that’s exactly what Victor Ortiz and his camp has portrayed Mayweather as. Ortiz is the young lion ready to take his seat on the throne while Mayweather has overstayed his welcome and must be usurped. But Mayweather laughs at the notion that his age will be a negative factor on September 17th.

“I’ve been dominating the fight game since Victor Ortiz was nine years old until now and I’m still sharp,” he barks. “I’ve taken these long layoffs and continued to dominate. For certain fighters it can help, for others it can hurt. I’ve been active since 1987 so it’s okay for me to take a break.”

According to Mayweather’s 41-0 record, the layoffs have yet to cause any concern. He’s quick to remind us that he was away from the sport for nearly two years before he dominated Juan Manuel Marquez back in 2009. These breaks have benefited more than harmed the undefeated fighter who resides in Las Vegas.

Another reason that Mayweather has remained on top of his game is courtesy of his ability to absorb little punishment in his fights. While some may yearn for bruising battles where both fighters earn their crimson mask, Mayweather opts for a smarter battle where damage isn’t on his itinerary.

“I’m still here because I haven’t been in any toe-to-toe wars,” he explains. “I think when a fighter’s in a toe-to-toe war, it’s wear and tear on the body. I haven’t taken any abuse, so I thank God for blessing me with this great defense.”

Aware that his skeptics are critical of his chess like approach, Mayweather has promised that this fight will not go twelve rounds. Keenly aware that Victor Ortiz’ best chance to defeat Mayweather is via knockout, the 34-year-old says that he’ll score the knockout first by being uncharacteristically aggressive on Saturday night. That boast sets an interesting tone as Ortiz possesses dynamite in his right hook that could be a recipe for disaster for Mayweather. But “Money” has no concerns about Ortiz’ punching power, because, after all, he’s seen it all before. Citing the power of Mosley, Corrales, Corley and others, Mayweather feels that Ortiz doesn’t have anything new that can surprise him.

By taking center ring on Saturday night, Mayweather looks to see what Ortiz has in the early stages of the fight and take it away before sending him to the canvas.

“Whatever a guy has that is his strongest point about him we believe in taking that away. And then what we do is break the guy down. If we see an opportunity to go for the kill, that’s what we’ll do.”

We shall see come Saturday night.

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