Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s announcement on (what else?) Twitter last week that he would end a 16-month layoff on Sept. 17 against 147-pound titleholder Victor Ortiz (most likely on HBO PPV) drew reactions of "if it ain't Manny Pacquiao, I ain't interested." But while the world continues to wait for a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown, Mayweather-Ortiz isn't a bad consolation prize. Consider: Whether due to financial demands, his legal woes or just a stubborn desire not to sign when Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum hands him a pen, Mayweather simply wasn't going to be fighting Pacquiao this year. Ortiz, 24, is a heavily hyped prospect with concussive power (22 KOs in his 29 wins) and a solid chin. He's ranked No. 2 at welterweight by The Ring magazine and is coming off an impressive win over previously unbeaten Andre Berto. In short—he's really good.
Plus, there are signs that boxing's biggest bout isn't far off. Ortiz is a fast, powerful southpaw, an ideal tune-up if your next foe is a fast, powerful southpaw ... like Pacquiao. The recent thaw between Golden Boy Promotions (which works with Mayweather) and Arum removes a hurdle, and if both Mayweather and Pacquiao, who will face Juan Manuel Marquez in November, win their fall fights, the first weekend in May—a popular fight date—is open. The clock is ticking on this megafight, but there is still time before it runs out.
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HE'S BACK Mayweather (above) will make his return against the tough Ortiz in September.