Written by Nick Tylwalk
Surely you didn't think Floyd Mayweather Jr. was gone from the game of boxing for good, right? At least you had a sneaking suspicion he'd be back as soon as he thought the timing was right.
Apparently this fall is the right time. Multiple news outlets are reporting that Mayweather will return to action on September 17, taking on newly crowned WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz. The venue is not set, but the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is the frontrunner.
Considered the number one pound-for-pound fighter when active, Mayweather hasn't fought since May of 2010, when he won a wide decision versus Shane Mosley. Since then, he's been in the news mostly due to his personal issues, which include several brushes with the law and rumors that he was having problems with the IRS. Many boxing fans and observers have handed the mythical pound-for-pound crown to Manny Pacquiao in his absence.
On the other side, few boxers have seen their stars rise as quickly as Ortiz. The 24-year old has completely shaken off his 2009 loss to Marcos Maidana by battering his way to welterweight gold, capped off by a thrilling slugfest with previously undefeated Andre Berto two months ago.
The boxing world has been waiting patiently (and in some cases, not so patiently) for a Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown. That may still come to pass, but in the meantime, a fight with Ortiz will mark a change of direction for Floyd. That's because his last two opponents, Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez, were well decorated champions who were past their primes - and in the case of Marquez, also too small to be a real threat.
That won't be true for Ortiz, an aggressive slugger with power in both fists. His boxing skills are still developing and nowhere near on Mayweather's level, but he'll likely put Floyd under constant pressure. And if he connects with some solid shots, Mayweather's chin may get its sternest test to date.
Mayweather has rightfully taken some criticism for his choice of opponents in the past (something Pacquiao has also faced), but this is a step in the right direction. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that if he fights Ortiz and follows it up with Pacquiao in the spring of 2012, all is forgiven.
Now bring on September...
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