TORONTO - Though it may not be the matchup so many had hoped would revive the sport of boxing - at least for one night- to the prominence it once held, the feature bout to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night could possibly alter the legacy of one of the sport's most decorated champions.
For years Floyd Mayweather Jr. was lauded as the sports undisputed pound-for- pound champion, as his lightening quick hands and impenetrable defense left his record unblemished. Though a recent retirement and general inactivity have many doubting the 34-year-old still possesses the once-in-a-lifetime skill set he was renowned for, it has yet to show after 41 professional fights.
Cynics would attest the Michigan native has ducked the top competition - namely Manny Pacquiao - in recent years, thus making his unbeaten mark seem tainted. If there were ever an opponent outside of the Filipino phenom to quiet the critics, young Victor Ortiz would appear to be the perfect fit.
There are a number of factors that make Ortiz one of the most intriguing opponents "Money" has faced in quite some time.
For starters, he's the youngest fighter Mayweather has met in over a decade. Diego Corrales was the last opponent under the age of 25 the vocal veteran fought and that was way back in January of 2001. In fact, four of the last six fighters to step into the ring with Mayweather were 34-years-old or older at the time of their fight.
Along with father time being on his side, Ortiz looks to be the bigger and stronger of the two. Though he is only an inch taller and actually has a shorter reach than Mayweather, the reigning WBC Welterweight Champion is a natural welterweight and is most comfortable fighting at 147 pounds, while his opponent has only seven fights at that weight class.
Yet, for all the advantages that appear to favor the younger, stronger fighter, Mayweather enters the bout as a 5-to-1 favorite and though many would love for nothing more than to see the self-described greatest of all-time lying face down on the mat, it's a sight they may still long to witness.
Regardless of how the public may perceive him and his enormous bank account, his ability as a fighter can only be regarded as fighting genius. The talent to remain relatively unscathed after all these years is a testament to all that makes Mayweather considered one of the sport's most marketable athletes.
What the former champ lacks in size and strength he will surely make up for in speed and guile, especially the latter as experience is certainly in Mayweather's favor with 18 title fights under his belt, while his opponent will be entering only his sixth fight with a championship on the line.
Fighting in the limelight of the Las Vegas strip and under the pressure of millions of people watching at home is something Mayweather is not only accustomed to, but strives for. Whether Ortiz can handle the immense weight of what it means to be fighting one of the sport's brightest stars may very well determine how he fares in a battle of vastly different careers.
Entering the welterweight title fight are two figures at immensely different stages of their respective careers.
The veteran Mayweather comes into the bout nearly 16 months after he last stepped into the ring against Shane Mosley in just his second fight since 2008. There are few more goals for the flamboyant fighter to achieve as he's already claimed titles in five weight divisions, beating every opponent put in front of him and miraculously never touching the canvas in his 16-year career. With so much already accomplished, "Pretty Boy" made it abundantly clear why he's strapping on the gloves again and putting his undefeated record on the line - his undying passion to make money and lots of it.
In the other corner stands a man who, outside of boxing circles, most would confuse for your average college student as his youthful exuberance make it hard to imagine a bloodthirsty fighter lies inside the mild mannered young man. Adversity has defined his life as his unbelievable story of overcoming being abandoned by his parents as a child to become one of the world's premier young talents at 147 pounds has captivated many supporting a lifelong underdog.
What's at stake for both of these fighters could also not be further apart.
A win for Ortiz would immediately catapult his career into superstardom, as he would be instantly heralded as the sport's next big thing for dethroning Mayweather, while a loss would just return him to the ranks of highly touted prospects waiting in the wings.
Unlike his opponent, there is very little to be won for Mayweather. Defeating Ortiz is all but expected of him and a loss would immediately hinder the lynchpin of his legacy - his undefeated record.
Of course, many see this fight as a springboard for a future super showdown between Pacquiao and Mayweather, but there still remains one obstacle before the fight of the century can take place - his name is Victor Ortiz.