Ortiz beaten by himself, not Mayweather
The booing directed at Floyd Mayweather after his knockout of Victor Ortiz was entirely unwarranted.
There is no love lost here for the brat who fancies himself Money May. He is what he is, as evidenced by the tantrum directed at HBO’s Larry Merchant in the ring after Saturday’s fight. That’s Mayweather, picking a fight with an 80-year-old journalist. Still, make no mistake, Ortiz had this one coming.
Ten years younger and, at 164 pounds, 14 heavier than his opponent, Ortiz couldn’t solve Mayweather. I don’t know what Ortiz ate after the weigh-in, but through the first three rounds Mayweather fed him a steady diet of counter right hands. Even with the crowd cheering him on, Ortiz’ frustration only mounted.
His famous lead right hand couldn’t touch Mayweather, and his left was of no consequence. So he tried bulling Mayweather into the ropes — a tactic for which the 34-year-old champion was all too prepared. Then he went for the butt. I counted three attempts. But the third proved the most desperate and dramatic, as Ortiz rose up on his toes and launched the crown of his head like a missile at Mayweather’s chin.
If this had been, say, the NFL, Roger Goodell would’ve imposed a hefty fine. All Mayweather could do, however, was paw at the blood in protest. The inside of his mouth had been cut.
Even by the standards of boxing, this was unmistakably crude. In that moment, as referee Joe Cortez moved to penalize Ortiz, the younger fighter seemed to have been found out, no, make that shamed. Perhaps this was to be expected. It seemed that Ortiz had been punked at the weigh-in, when he allowed Mayweather to put a hand on his throat. The headbutt wasn’t a way to even the score. It was an admission of weakness.
Ortiz knew it. Everybody knew it. So what did he do? He made matters worse — not by acknowledging his misconduct — but by stepping to Mayweather to embrace and … kiss him.
Yes, kissed him. This was supposed to be a fight, not an emotional breakdown, not another cheap reality show.
Then Cortez — the referee who advertises himself as “fair but firm” — signaled for the action to commence. Ortiz hugged his opponent again.
“I spaced out,” said Ortiz.
Apparently, he was more interested in forgiveness than fighting.
“I obeyed exactly as I was told,” said Ortiz.
I understand that America is kinder, gentler and wimpier than it was when boxing was in still a major sport. I understand, too, that the fight game is a vestige of a less civilized society. But, really, what was Mayweather supposed to do? Hug him back? Instead, he, too, went by the book. He shrugged off this show of deference and cracked Ortiz just as he should have. Left hook. Straight right. No more huggy bear.
“Vicious” Victor Ortiz looked over at Cortez as he fell, as if he could be rescued before being counted out at 2:59 of the fourth round.
“He blindsided me,” said Ortiz.
No. Ortiz blindsided himself. He expected pity from a pitiless game. He expected forgiveness. In the moments after his transgression, he all but begged for a truce.
“I’m not a dirty fighter, and I apologize for the headbutt,” said Ortiz. “But you can look at this two ways: I came to entertain the fans and I think they were entertained. There was a miscommunication, but nobody is perfect, this is a learning experience.”
He wanted a rematch. He fouled. He failed to defend himself. He failed to conduct himself as a fighter. And now he wants to be rewarded?
Wait. It got better. His assessment of Mayweather? Andre Berto was quicker and stronger, Ortiz said after the fight, a mouse the size of a ping-pong ball welling up under his right eye.
Then what about all those right hands? he was asked. “His speed was decent,” said Ortiz. “He had a sneaky little right.”
Decent? A sneaky right? Obviously, Ortiz was spacing out again. He has a lead right, and an inspiring backstory, raising himself and his younger brother after being abandoned by their parents. But in the ring, I’m sorry to say, he’s still a child.
“In the ring you have to protect yourself at all times,” said Mayweather. “We touched back after the break and we started fighting. I hit him with the left hook, then the right hand. He did something dirty.”
Floyd returned the favor, sure. But by the rules.
Then Money Mayweather returned to form. No one would’ve protested if Larry Merchant tried to butt him.