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The Early Lead
Posted at 03:11 PM ET, 09/16/2011

Mayweather vs. Ortiz: Young challenger a heavy underdog against unbeaten future Hall of Famer


Victor Ortiz gets an up-close look at Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s “beautiful mouth.” (Steve Marcus - Reuters)
It’s been 16 months since Floyd Mayweather Jr. stepped out of the ring following his dominant victory against Shane Mosley, but the long layoff hasn’t impacted the oddsmaker’s take on his upcoming bout.

The 34-year-old and five-division champion is a 5-to-1 favorite to handle 24-year-old welterweight champion Victor Ortiz on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Still unbeaten at 41-0 with 25 career knockouts, Mayweather is up against arguably the most challenging opponent he could face — not including Manny Pacquiao, of course. Young, strong and full of ambition, Ortiz is on the rise and eager to prove he was deserving of the hype bestowed upon him early in his career. He’s coming off an upset win over Andre Berto in April which landed him the welterweight title and could have him sharper in the early going that his overly-rested opponent.

But Mayweather’s record speaks for itself, and while the doubters will continue to point to age, inactivity and outside distractions (legal issues chief among them), until someone beats him, he’s still the king of the ring at the moment. And he knows it.

“I believe in my skills,” Mayweather said. “I believe in my talent. This fight will not go the distance.”

But Ortiz (29-2-2), who lost some footing in the sport two years ago when he gave up in a fight against Marcos Maidana, knows this is his moment in the spotlight, and he wants to deliver.

“All I really know and want is, I want the actual Floyd Mayweather to show up,” Ortiz said. “I don't need a Mayweather that's lost speed or lost power or lost age. He's got that beautiful mouth of his that just never stops, so in [fighting him], I want the best Floyd that's out there.”

The fight airs live Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view.

By  |  03:11 PM ET, 09/16/2011

 
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