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Back to the Future? Mayweather's return sparks renewed debate
Lyle Fitzsimmons

By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Ocala, FL (Sports Network) - "Flomos" and "Pactards" of the world...rejoice.

With last week's announcement that Floyd Mayweather Jr. would emerge from his cocoon and challenge Victor Ortiz for a share of the welterweight championship empire later this summer, the dueling factions in boxing's most timely gang fight renewed cyber hostilities.

The Mayweather sycophants automatically chimed with the claim that the path from sabbatical to Ortiz would ultimately continue to a showdown with the pound-for-pound Filipino next spring.

On the other side, the Manny militia contrasted with the idea that fighting Ortiz was just another showy pit stop for a still-reticent "Money," a move dictated more by fear than strategy.

And given all that as preamble, I'm still not exactly sure where I stand.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. (above) will return to face Victor Ortiz later this summer.
While I remained steadfast through delays that the superfight would indeed get made, I'd be lying if I said the resolve wasn't shaken during what were surely out-of-character silences from a heretofore microphone-seeking Mayweather camp.

Rather than a signed contract, Team Pacquiao's consent to stricter drug testing in the hoopla's early phase was met with stony silence - giving swelling credence to an at-first silly claim that Floyd was more focused on protecting a 0 than risking his reputation.

And while I still don't buy in that a guy with his resume shies from any challenge, the cracks in my foundation were becoming visible.

"Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm wrong," I'd think in a weak moment. "Maybe he really doesn't want it. Maybe he doesn't think he can win.

"Maybe this guy's just too good."

The hesitance was tempered by the Ortiz announcement, but I wasn't feeling completely up to snuff until a couple days later, when the resident "Pactard" in my circle of friends - Austin-based music guru Tom Thompson - checked in with an e-mail simply saying "Mayweather vs. Ortiz...Bravo."

For context's sake, this is a volleying match Tom and I have had for years. We've known each other for nearly seven, since I took over as lead copy editor for his TigerBoxing.com site that was later disbanded after he and family relocated from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

He's not a Floyd guy, but he knows I am...so, whenever there's an opening, a jab is sure to follow.

I was feeling combative upon seeing his name in the inbox, and, rather than waiting for him to lead with the first real flurry, I immediately countered with "Indeed. If/when he wins that one, he'll have beaten more reigning welter champs in the past two years than a certain Filipino I know."

Over the next couple hours, it devolved similarly. And upon re-reading everything after we'd each signed off for the day, I figured it stood for itself as a re-declaration of my "Flomo" allegiance.

Enjoy...and score it for yourself.

TT: "Funny how you take this as a way to pick on Pac." LF: "Dude...it's a fact. Mosley was coming off beating Margarito. Ortiz is coming off beating Berto. When was the last time Pac fought someone coming off an equally impressive win?"

TT: "First answer the same question about your boy." LF: "Mayweather beat Mosley in Mosley's next fight after he'd KO'd Margarito. Right? He's fighting Ortiz immediately after Ortiz beat Berto, no? Pac fought Mosley after the Mayweather loss and a Sergio Mora draw. He fought Margarito after Mosley ripped him and he'd been off a year. He fought Cotto after Margarito wasted him. He fought Clottey after Cotto had beaten him. Do we see a pattern here? Do you really think it's an accident? Mayweather could have come back with a fight against 10,000 no-hopers. Instead, he's fighting a guy who just beat a reigning champion that most folks considered second-best at 147. Pac hasn't fought the best or second-best in a division since he jumped from 140."

TT: "I'm trying to compliment your guy and talk about his fight, and you attack my guy. Typical. It's embarrassing. :)" LF: "Just pointed out what others have written already this week. His return and choice of opponent puts him back on top."

TT: "Ortiz is a real opponent. This is the most impressive opponent for Mayweather since Zab Judah. And he is younger, faster and hits harder than Judah. Am I picking him to win? Of course not. I am saying it is a very legitimate fight and I look forward to it." LF: "How was Mosley not a real opponent for Mayweather? He'd just beaten the best guy at 147 by brutal KO. What more is he supposed to have done?"

TT: "Mosley fought both guys the same way...scared. I throw that one out... not sure why Shane would freeze up against anyone. He used to be great, but the fact is he froze like a deer in headlights against both of those guys. But he did win a round vs. Floyd." LF: "Nonsense, dude. Floyd took his best shot and hammered him, while he was a reigning champ. Pac fought him after he couldn't beat Sergio Mora. Not even close."

TT: "What makes you a nut-hugger is the way you act like Pac can't even compete with mighty Floyd. Mosley chose not to compete." LF: "This has zero to do with what I think happens if they fight. This has everything to do with the perception of who they've beaten."

TT: "Suure. Mr. Objective." LF: "Just because you disagree, you play the 'you're a nut-hugger' card. Again...none of this has to do with what happens in the ring. It's immaterial. But it baffles me how matchups are looked at the same way. I mean, seriously, the Mosley wins are so different in meaning, it's ridiculous. Same for De la Hoya. Yet everyone likes Manny and he smiles and he's a Congressman...so his feats are cast as legendary no matter what the flaws. And Floyd beats women and flaunts his money and is cocky, so his accomplishments are cheapened."

TT: "Boxing is entertainment. That's all it really is. It is hardly a sport anymore. Manny is more fun to watch - in my opinion. You can have the safety first fighters like Hopkins and Mayweather. I'd take a Pac fight over a May fight in my living room any day. Watching Mayweather do just enough to outbox his opponent every round is almost as exciting as watching professional tennis. He is great-no doubt about it. Your guy is great. An all-timer. An obvious hall of fame guy. He can outbox anyone from 154 to 140. No doubt. If Mayweather does the safety first thing against Pac, he wins. If he engages with Pac, he loses." LF: "I'd bet my house he wins that fight."

TT: "I wouldn't call it a 'fight' if May does safety first. I'd call it a boxing match." LF: "Unlike the rest of Pac's recent foes...Floyd is not a one-dimensional, 'I'll plow forward and you'll look awesome in blasting me out' obstacle. And when faced with the reality of a bigger, stronger and faster version of his recent nemesis - JM Marquez - Manny will find himself in an unfamiliar situation. Beaten."

* * * * * * * * * *

This week's title-fight schedule:

FRIDAY WBA bantamweight title - Panama City, Panama

Anselmo Moreno (champion) vs. Lorenzo Parra (No. 2 contender) Moreno (30-1-1, 10 KO): Eighth title defense; Unbeaten since 2002 (24-0, 8 KO) Parra (31-2-1, 18 KO): Ninth title fight (6-2, 0 KO); Held WBA title at 112 (2003-07, five defenses)

Fitzbitz says: "Incumbent prevails in would-be battle of stylists." Moreno by decision

SATURDAY IBF lightweight title - Toluca, Mexico

Miguel Vazquez (champion) vs. Marlon Aguilar (unranked) Vazquez (28-3, 12 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten since 2008 (7-0, 2 KO) Aguilar (25-10-1, 18 KO): First title fight; Four wins in five fights since 0-3 stretch

Fitzbitz says: "Underappreciated Vazquez continues rise against easy mark." Vazquez in 10

WBC super welterweight title - Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Mexico

Saul Alvarez (champion) vs. Ryan Rhodes (No. 3 contender) Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KO): First title defense; Thirty-third fight in Mexico (31-0-1, 23 KO) Rhodes (45-4, 31 KO): First title fight; First fight outside United Kingdom

Fitzbitz says: "Golden Boy phenom takes out road-tripping challenger." Alvarez in 9

Last week's picks: 2-0

Overall picks record: 304-106 (74.1 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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