By Hans Olsen
We’re less than a week away from the biggest fight of 2011.
Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather makes his triumphant return against Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, roughly 16 months since his last dominating performance; a lopsided 12-round decision victory against Shane Mosley.
photo by Gene Blevins/Hogan Photos
The best fighter in the world is back, and generally seems happy to be back.
“My thought on life is, I don’t worry about what no one says, because at the end of the day I have to be happy,” a more introspective Floyd reflected during this weekend’s third episode of HBO’s hit reality series “24/7: Mayweather/Ortiz.”
Floyd’s contentment in that particular scene was in stark contrast to the beginning of the episode, a combative Mayweather angry at the portrayal of Victor Ortiz and his story of triumph in the face of adversity. Adversity that Floyd too, has experienced.
“I got some shit on my mind. Yeah, I got some shit on my mind. I’m tired of hearing about that motherfuckin storyline!”
Floyd spoke of the hardships he faced growing up, those many hardships shaping his upbringing.
“They make it seem like I just woke up and I’m just a multimillionaire. My father been in prison, my mother left, my mother been on drugs, and my father been a drug dealer. I been through it all. We lived seven deep in one bedroom—but I don’t talk about that on the show.”
That could be why Floyd Mayweather is often misunderstood.
He doesn’t adhere to, and play into what mainstream America wants him to be. Floyd Mayweather doesn’t have to apologize to anyone, or put off a sob story for anyone. Floyd is real, and he speaks in self-belief without resorting to the tired cliches of religion and fanfare as his only motivation.
Sure, those things can contribute to a fighter’s motivation, but in the ring…all you have is yourself.
In a sport so completely unforgiving as boxing, is it that unreasonable that its best fighter is one who lives inside and outside of the ring with the same attitude that is perceived as selfish?
“My fans come first. Well, I don’t want to say they come first because I come first; self preservation, it’s the law of the land, you know? I must put myself first, but my fans play a major part. You got people that pay to see you win, you have people that pay to see you lose. They both are fans, because they both are paying.”
“We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality.”-Sigmund Freud
We now go back to reality, figuratively as an idea, and literally as a subject as it relates to “24/7: Mayweather/Ortiz.”
What episode-three told us, was that reality is setting in.
The fight looms closer.
Is all what we see real? If so, is this also so the same reality that the fighters are living in?
Victor Ortiz chose to offer a dose of cold reality with his words. “Floyd thinks he’s gonna walk in the park,” said Ortiz. “It’s going to be a very, very ugly, bloody walk for him.”
It may be that Victor Ortiz is the one who has lost his grip on reality.
Seeing Floyd train in his open workout that was live on Ustream last week, Floyd hardly appeared to be a fighter Victor Ortiz can bloody and beat down. Floyd looks sharp. Sharp as ever in fact; his long layoff potentially helping him as he fights into his mid-30’s. There may be no rest for wicked, but after rested…Floyd performs wicked.
For Ortiz, the long training camp and big-time promotion is appearing to wear on the young pugilist. It was Ortiz rather, who appeared to be slowing down in camp, even requesting a day off against the wishes of his trainer Danny Garcia.
Then again, what is real?
Other aspects of episode-three heightened the paradox of what is and isn’t real. The soldiers overseas that Floyd skyped with, the children at the Boys and Girls Club Ortiz visited contrasting images of Floyd’s luxury cars and the charter fishing boat Ortiz and camp were on. A guest appearance by Ray J complimented the same idea…in an era of overproduced pop stars, we see a pop star actually singing and performing. If only for a few bars, it was real.
In an era of titles and championships that may or may not merit any real meaning, Mayweather/Ortiz is for the WBC’s version of the Welterweight Championship. Floyd’s acronym may be better suited: “I am the WBC—world’s best champion. World’s best champion.”
As September 17 draws near, our idea reality now yields itself to actual reality. Floyd Mayweather retains the same confidence he has shown throughout his entire career, and that is unchanged.
“I’m going to be the last man standing. Still here, still going strong.”
Has success forced Floyd Mayweather out of reality to the point of alienation? That sure seems to be the case with most boxing fans.
But when Floyd Mayweather enters the ring to maintain said successes next Saturday—he’ll do it with or without care of public perception.
It’ll be real.
And whether fight fans want to admit it or not, Floyd Mayweather is as real as it gets.
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson