The welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Victor Ortiz ended in abrupt, bizarre fashion on Saturday, with Mayweather earning his 42nd win in as many fights when he clocked Ortiz with a two-punch combo as the fighters were separating from an embrace late in the fourth round.
Just seconds earlier, Ortiz unleashed a wild, illegal headbutt on Mayweather causing referee Joe Cortez to call time out and deduct a point from Ortiz. After Cortez called time in (albeit, in a very innocuous way) Ortiz approached Mayweather to hug and seemingly apologize. Right as they broke, Mayweather nailed Ortiz with a left hook and followed with a right hand that floored Ortiz. Fight over, but the debate begins.
First off, Mayweather did nothing illegal. That is not to say it wasn’t a cheap shot or unethical. But it was a million percent legal. What was totally not legal was Ortiz’s launching headbutt that caused the whole fracas. It’s a simple cause and effect: if Ortiz doesn’t headbutt Mayweather, this whole thing never happens.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came in the post-fight press conference, when Mayweather went off on HBO’s Larry Merchant, cussing him out and saying HBO should fire him. Merchant came back, unbelievably, by saying if he was 50 years younger, he’d kick Mayweather’s (butt). Hilarious stuff.
Up until the mayhem, Mayweather was controlling the fight, if not dominating. Ortiz was game and was giving a great effort, but Mayweather was cleanly catching him with his signature counter shots and avoiding big blows with his stellar defense. Mayweather would have likely cruised to victory. He even had a few moments of sheer aggression and offense, which is unlike most of what we’ve seen from Mayweather in the past.
The discussion will continue and viewpoints will differ. Wherever you stand on how the fight ended will probably depend on who you support. Mayweather fans will say Ortiz was stupid to apologize, and that he broke the cardinal rule of boxing, "protect yourself at all times:. Mayweather haters will say that it was a cheap shot. It probably falls in the middle somewhere.
My take is that Ortiz’s apologies were over the top. First, right after the headbutt, he hugged Mayweather and kissed him on the cheek. Then, after Cortez had called time out, Ortiz reached his glove to tap Mayweather’s. The embrace where Mayweather clocked him was Ortiz’ THIRD apology attempt. Did he really need a hug in the middle of the ring after time was called in? Ortiz said he never heard Cortez call time in, but the hug was unneceassry. However, it looked like Mayweather knew exactly what he was going to do when coming in for the embrace. Perhaps he was looking to exact revenge for the headbutt. Either way, whatever you think of the knock out from an ethical standpoint, there is zero debate on the legality.
It was a legal. Mayweather is now 42-0. Will he rematch Ortiz? Or will we finally get the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown? Time will tell, but for now, there remains plenty to discuss.