Only in boxing can you just about expect the bizarre. You always have more questions than answers.
Saturday night in Las Vegas, the welterweight title was on the line, 5-1 favorite unbeaten Floyd Mayweather, Jr, vs. welterweight champion Victor Ortiz. If you were not in Las Vegas, the fight was available only on pay per view (HBO).
As is the case in boxing, a lot of hype and controversy go into most every fight. This was no different: Mayweather, 34, had not fought in 16 months, and the expectation was that there just might be a little rust in the ring against the young, inspired, 25-year-old champion Ortiz.
Mayweather was sharp from the beginning. Known as Pretty Boy and one of the great defensive fighters of all time, he established that he was in control, sticking Ortiz with a flurry of left jabs and right hands.
Consistently, Mayweather beat Ortiz to the punch. He was quicker. Ortiz tried hard to the point of frustration to muscle Mayweather up against the ropes and in corners with body shots.
Mayweather was clearly ahead on three judges’ cards, having won the first three rounds, and the stats showed he landed 73 of 208 punches to just 26 of 148 for Ortiz. Late in round four, Ortiz picked up the pace and trapped Mayweather in the corner up against the ropes and landed some shots, unintentionally head-butting Mayweather. Quickly referee Joe Cortez stepped in to take a point away from Ortiz.
After the head butt, Ortiz went to Mayweather and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Just after that, Cortez released the hands of the fighters in the center of the ring, ready to resume, and bang — Mayweather hit Ortiz with a left and overhand right that knocked Ortiz down.
He could not get up before the count of 10 by referee Cortez. The fight was over by knockout at 2:59 of the fourth round. What followed was confusion, outrage and controversy.
There will be no refunds. You may not like it or think it was unfair, but it’s boxing. “I took the break by the referee, and I obeyed exactly as I was told, “Ortiz said. “And then boom, he blindsided me.”
Mayweather is brilliant in his talent and defense and understanding of what to do. Ortiz’s lack of experience and the moment of apprehension cost him.
“We touched gloves and we were back to fighting, and then I threw the left and the right hand after the break,” Mayweather said. “In the ring you have to protect yourself at all times.”
Indeed! It may have looked unfair, but when the referee steps aside and releases each fighter’s hand, anything goes. “Time was in. The fighter needed to keep his guard up. Mayweather did nothing illegal,” Cortez said.
Mayweather came into the ring with rapper-actor 50 Cent and left with the title and $50 million.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to email@example.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.