Mayweather-Ortiz buildup echoes ‘Rocky III’

The storyline for the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Victor Ortiz bout on Sept. 17 is awfully close to a typical Rocky movie.

It headlines a boxer that went through many trials and tribulations to get to the fight of his life. It also features an undefeated champion that feels like he’s on top of the world, and thinks absolutely nobody can stop him.

In this script, let’s think of Ortiz as Rocky Balboa, while we can compare Mayweather to someone like Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T in Rocky III). And we get to see it all on reality TV.

Coming into the fight, Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) has a life story that could be capable of becoming a best-selling biography. While both of his parents abandoned him and his brother as young children at different times, Ortiz started boxing and grew his talents in a gym close to his foster home. His staff assisting him in training consists of men working blue-collar jobs — models of vigorous work efforts for Ortiz to follow when preparing for his fights.

Ortiz’s career emerged with a promising start, until his loss to Marcos Maidana in the June 2009 WBA Super Lightweight title fight pushed him away from becoming one of boxing’s elites. He eventually beat Andre Berto for the WBC World Welterweight belt, but his first title defense with his new honor is his toughest test yet.

Then there’s Mayweather (41-0-0, 25 KOs). After taking an 16-month hiatus following his victory over Shane Mosley back in May 2010, “Money,” “Pretty Boy Floyd” — or whatever else you wish to call him — insists he’s still the world’s best, pound-for-pound.

“Who work harder than me?” Mayweather bellowed in the first episode of HBO’s 24/7 Mayweather/Ortiz series. “You tell me one athlete right now that’s been dominating the game for 16 years straight without a loss!”

Mayweather’s arrogance didn’t stop him from winning every one of his professional fights, but his ego is even more inflated coming into this fight than any other. That same episode of 24/7 ended with a dramatic verbal war with his father, Floyd Sr., over who is really responsible for the younger Floyd’s success. Not only is Floyd Jr. is battling his father along with Ortiz, but he’s also fighting the law as well — in six civil/criminal cases to be exact.

Okay, I admit, there are some differences between Rocky and Ortiz, and Clubber and Mayweather Jr., but still, who doesn’t like a fundamental matchup between good versus evil, David versus Goliath?

This was supposed to be Mayweather’s coming-out party, his triumphant return to boxing (and a tune-up before facing the official pound-for-pound champ, Manny Pacquiao…hopefully). But this doesn’t seem like an easy fight, and both fighters have a lot to lose next week.

If Mayweather is the one that goes down, his perfect record is squashed.

If Ortiz loses, he’s just another good guy that’ll have to wait years before getting back to the top.

We see these scenarios all the time in sports, yet it’s never always predictable in reality, unlike a script brainstormed out of Hollywood.

Either way, this is worth a buy on pay-per-view — or a visit to a nearby bar — when the two punch it out on Sept. 17 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Reach the columnist at jnacion@asu.edu

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