TQBR Roundtable, Strong Luminous Plasma Ball Edition: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Vs. Victor Ortiz

So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2011, Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17 on HBO pay-per-view. Previously: the stakes of Mayweather-Ortiz; get to know Victor Ortiz; keys to the fight, parts I and II; the undercard, previewed; the final preview and prediction. Next: the ultimate guide.

A star, according to bastion of fact Wikipedia, is a massive luminous plasma ball. On Saturday, Golden Boy Promotions marketing division would like us to think the welterweight main event between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Victor Ortiz will determine whose luminous plasma ball is strongest.

That’s what I took from the name of the fight, anyway.

But luminous plasma balls and their relative strength are not our concern today. This edition of the TQBR Roundtable will focus on the upcoming fight and the promotion leading up to it, featuring TQBR founder Tim Starks and staff writers Andrew Harrison, Gautham Nagesh, Alex McClintock and myself.

So, without further ado, let’s get ready to Roundtable!

1. Do you think that Ortiz is a legitimate threat to Mayweather’s undefeated record, despite the odds against him (currently about 4.5 to 1 on Bodog)? Does Mayweather deserve credit for taking on a young challenger coming off an impressive victory, or do you question his choice in opponent? With the fight receiving a lot of media attention, do you feel any aspects of the match-up have been overlooked or under-publicized?

Andrew Harrison: Ortiz doesn’t have a prayer to my eyes – the intrigue for me is whether Mayweather stops him or not. I think Floyd scores his first quick win in years and as of right now he’s totally underpriced to do so (flutterers and chancers of the world take note). Ortiz will be steamed up into going right after Mayweather — gutsy kid that he is — yet he leaves his head in the air far too often for him to be successful in this class. Against a laser beam puncher like Mayweather, sooner or later he’s going to get himself squished. Like a fawn in a Conibear trap.

Mayweather has chosen wisely once again, hasn’t he? Ortiz’s stock is high after the Andre Berto win, but how good a fighter is Berto in reality? It’s a decent selection considering what was available to him, who else is better credentialed? Amir Khan? Saul Alvarez? Miguel Cotto? It’s a fair pick.

Ortiz’s record has been overlooked, I would say. Aside from Berto, there’s almost nothing there.

Gautham Nagesh: Mayweather deserves credit for taking on the most dangerous welterweight out there not named Pacman, but the odds look about right to me. Ortiz is young and powerful so in theory he may be able to catch Floyd and put him down. But more likely he’ll be badly out-classed. It’s pretty hard in a fight getting this much media attention to have any aspect escape the media’s attention, especially with 24/7 in the mix.

Tim Starks: I’ve already estimated Ortiz’ threat level elsewhere. Stated in other terms, it’s yellow, by the old Homeland Security color code — one notch above blue, which is to say he can’t be taken totally lightly but isn’t a “high” challenge. It’s still nice, based on the competition in recent and upcoming Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fights, for one of them to be facing someone who’s not coming off a poor showing, or who’s old, or who’s small. As for what the media is overlooking: The bulk of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has focused on what this all means for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, with a side of Ortiz’ back story. There’s been very little discussion of the match-up itself. That’s not surprising. It’s just something that’s under-publicized, is all.

Alex McClintock: I think a one in four chance is about right for this fight. Mayweather will outclass virtually everyone he gets in the ring with, but if anyone has the mythical “puncher’s chance,” it’s Ortiz. Realistically though, I see him eating Floyd’s straight right all night. I think PBF should get credit for taking a young guy coming off a good showing, but we all know it’s second best. I’m not sure if any aspect of the matchup has been overlooked — if anything I feel I’ve seen too much of both men.

Scott Kraus: While I don’t believe Ortiz is much of a threat to Mayweather, unless Mayweather’s skills have sharply eroded since his drubbing of Shane Mosley, I do believe he deserves a little credit for the match-up. For years, all we heard were complaints about Floyd not fighting a big, strong, natural welterweight. This fight now marks his second big, strong, natural welterweight in a row (yes, Ortiz came up as a junior welterweight, but he clearly grew well into the division and will not be going back). What’s been overlooked, to me, is that this is the first real opportunity either Floyd or Pacquiao has given a young, up-and-coming fighter to earn a star-making victory.

2. What are your thoughts on the promotion of the event? Do you think the 24/7 Mayweather/Ortiz has piqued interest in the fight? How would you compare the promotional blitz utilizing CNN and HBO Zone (among other outlets) to the promotion of Pacquiao-Mosley on Showtime/CBS?

Andrew Harrison: I think 24/7 has had it’s day. It’s far too repetitive. Mind you, that goes for boxing promotion in its entirety — can’t anyone come up with something different, something that doesn’t involve the ubiquitous and almost obligatory nose to nose picture for instance?

Gautham Nagesh: Thus far this edition of 24/7 has been fairly disappointing, since I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything new about either fighter. Floyd seems especially choreographed, while Ortiz is likable enough but perhaps a little bland for the show beyond his horrific back story. Still, I don’t think there’s any doubt that this promotion is going better than Pacquiao-Mosley. Mayweather is the sport’s most polarizing figure and he’s just flat-out more interesting than Pacquiao. I never feel like we see the real Manny, whereas the glimpses we get of the real Floyd (like in older 24/7s) just make him more compelling.

Tim Starks: Even though I live in Washington, D.C., a town obsessed with politics, I haven’t heard a soul say to me, “Hey, I was flipping through CNN at midnight this weekend, and I saw this, what’s it called, 7/11 program about some boxers?” Casual boxing fans keep asking me what the chances are that Ortiz will win, but I think that’s a legacy interest in hating Mayweather, mainly. These moves lately to get boxing outside of HBO and Showtime are good, but especially compared to the deal UFC just signed with Fox, they feel like less-than-half-measures. I kind of wish Top Rank had stuck with Showtime/CBS for Pacquiao’s next fight, because I still want a pathway back to the networks. A pathway to TBS also wouldn’t be so bad, it’s just a smaller foothold.

Alex McClintock: I feel like the fight has been promoted well, but not outstandingly. Unfortunately, apart from the first episode, 24/7 has been the same formula we’ve come to expect. Maybe that doesn’t matter as much to casual fans. From what little I’ve seen, the Piers Morgan tie in was a little goofy and 24/7 isn’t exactly in a great timeslot. Strangely enough, the Pacquiao-Marquez press tour, as traditional as it has been, has done much more (at least in Mexico) to get fans talking about boxing. That could be because it paralyzed downtown Mexico City for a day though.

Scott Kraus: I agree in large part with the panel, that this was a mostly lackluster promotion. Tim and I have never seen eye-to-eye on the network TV thing (since I think obsessing over network TV exposure in 2011 is like obsessing over terrestrial radio exposure in the 1960s or horse-and-buggy advertising in the 1920s), but the tie-ins to CNN have admittedly been really underwhelming and it has been a mostly uneventful edition of 24/7. Plus, as noted in the intro, the name of the fight just sucks.

3. What are your thoughts on the undercard? Have the withdrawals due to injury ruined the undercard, or are there fights you are still looking forward to?

Andrew Harrison: Personally, I’m delighted to see Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla grab a slot after missing out on fairytale pop at Erik Morales – he’s one of our brightest young talents. It’s just a shame he hasn’t been given a more accomplished opponent to strut his stuff against.

Gautham Nagesh: Matthysse pulling out is a bummer. I consider it karmic retribution. I’m interested in seeing both Crolla and Jessie Vargas vs. Josesito Lopez, but it’s not really a PPV-worthy undercard without Morales vs. a quality opponent. Hopefully they find someone legit to step in. [Note: After Gautham responded, Matthysse was replaced with Pablo Cesar Cano, whose legitimacy is questionable at best.]

Tim Starks: For my take on the undercard, go here. I do think the undercard has a good chance of bolstering pay-per-views by a significant amount, regardless of my own level of interest in it. Used to be, the thinking was that you could throw a bunch of random Mexicans on a card that coincides with Mexican Independence Day, and the Mexicans will buy it. It probably is a little true, but this time they threw on one of the most popular Mexican fighters that there is in Saul Alvarez. That guys does good ratings and sells a lot of tickets, especially with the Mexican fans — far more than last year when he was on the latest Mayweather undercard. He ain’t random.

Alex McClintock: Well it kind of sucks that Matthysse-Morales is off, but it’s also kind of a plus. Matthysse is not the neanderthal that Marcos Maidana is, and I’ve got a feeling he might have put a real beatdown on “El Terrible.” I’m looking forward to seeing Saul Alvarez fight because, overhyped or not, he’s fun to watch and throws amazing looking combinations. Jesse Vargas and Josesito Lopez should be pretty fun too. Not as good as it once was, but not terrible either.

Scott Kraus: When Morales-Matthysse was on, I thought it was a great undercard. Now, I think it’s a pretty good undercard. The presence of Alvarez as the co-feature, as Tim notes, pushes it beyond the types of lackluster supporting fare we often complain about in these parts, as he’s a legitimate massive luminous ball in the making and should be in a fun scrap with Alfonso Gomez for as long as it lasts. Vargas-Lopez could be interesting, and apparently this Crolla fella is a talent. Here’s hoping he has a devious cackle and an oppressed man-servant to go along with his awesome nickname. Overall, the undercard could have been better, but we’ve seen much worse.

Thanks to all who participated, and to you for checking out the Roundtable. Until next time, enjoy the fights!

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.