A lot of people are pissed after last night’s Mayweather/Ortiz fight. I agree. They should be pissed. One of the fighters in that ring shortened a $59.99 PPV event for 1.5 million people because instead of fight he decided he’d rather make out. There is no porn on earth worth $59.99, especially on Saturday night when the strip clubs are open. You can even swipe your card down their ass-cracks these days, so you don’t even need to find an ATM.
And speaking of ass-cracks, Victor Ortiz should be trying to crawl into his this morning. Last night he had the biggest fight night of his career – biggest payday, biggest opponent, biggest everything – and he blew it because he decided he’d rather hug and talk it out than fight. Here’s what happened:
Mayweather had just spent three rounds smacking Ortiz around the ring like a dog herding sheep around a paddock. After 16 months out of the ring, this is pretty amazing to see. Particularly from a 34 year-old who just seems to get smarter and better with every fight. If Mayweather’s still fighting when he’s 40, which is entirely possible, it’s going to be like watching Anime where the main character stands there with his arms crossed as the bad guys come storming in, and at the last second he cuts their heads off and continues drinking his tea.
By the time we got to round 4, the pattern was set. Slap slap slap, whiff whiff whiff. My original prediction was a mid-fight knockdown followed by a late-round stoppage. I felt confident this was on the way. Until…
Ortiz bullies Mayweather into the corner and inexplicably tries to intentionally headbutt him. I think he just got way too excited and frustrated all at the same time, but whatever. POINT LOST. For some reason Ortiz felt the need to hug… and kiss… Mayweather to say he’s sorry, which is a little ridiculous. Ortiz is not his mommy. If anything, Mayweather had just spent the last twelve minutes making Ortiz his son.
So whatever. It’s a fight. Damage done, point taken, no apology necessary. Now referee Joe Cortez clearly restarts the action by saying “let’s go.” That means, “Alright fellas, feel free to engage in kicking each other’s asses.” For some reason, Ortiz feels the need to hug Mayweather again. Now seriously, this is stupid. You can call it sportsmanship, apologizing, whatever you want, but the fact of the matter is he was willing to do it after the ref clearly told his opponent it was OK to start punching him. I call it needlessly pandering to your opponent and putting yourself in serious danger. Sure, perhaps it’s a nice gesture, but there’s a reason fighters touch gloves rather than lay out in the ring in each others’ arms and talk through their problems until 2 AM. That reason is as follows:
PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES, BRO.
First, most basic rule of boxing. It’s the last thing a ref says before he says, “let’s go,” and this is why. IT’S A FIGHT!!! We are all acknowledging that this is barely controlled brutality at the outset, and the final responsibility for protecting yourself rests with you. If other people were going to do that for you, it would be called a riot, not boxing. So when given the opportunity as Ortiz was trying to hug him again when the action had officially resumed, Mayweather knocked his dumb ass out. End of story.
Now is this bad sportsmanship? Well…maybe. Even then I’m not so sure. The first thing I thought of was the time he did this to Arturo Gatti. The ref didn’t break the fighters cleanly, Gatti stepped back with his hands down, and Mayweather clocked him. Gatti complained, but the facts were clear:
1. The referee never said “stop” or “break” or anything like that.
2. Therefore, Mayweather was within his rights to hit him. The first words of Roy Jones Jr.’s mouth who was at ringside that night?
“Gotta protect yourself at all times”
Jim Lampley: I can’t blame Mayweather, he took advantage of the opportunity that was in front of him.
RJJ: He’s supposed to do that. He’s supposed to.
Yeah, pretty bloody much. Now Mayweather’s a dick? Whatever. Liestn, when Sugar Ray Robinson was being questioned by a government panel over killing Jimmy Doyle in the ring, the senator asked him why he didn’t realize Doyle was in trouble and stop punching him. Robinson’s response is one of the great maxims of the sport:
“I’m in the getting people in trouble business.”
It’s not cold-blooded, and he in no way meant to kill him, but yes, that’s what you are supposed to do in a boxing ring. That’s why you’re there. To get your opponent in trouble. I mean, take a second and just realize that this is not baseball. If you zone out and aren’t paying attention to the fact that the first baseman didn’t actually throw the ball back to the pitcher before you take your leadoff, you get tagged, embarassed, and you’re out. In boxing you don’t get out. You get knocked out. Your safety has to be priority #1, because it’s seriously in jeopardy by definition. More than that, your opponent is SUPPOSED to pummel this s-t out of you when presented with that situation. You cannot afford to forget the fact that there is another person in the ring with you who is trying to separate you from your senses regardless of sportsmanship or mutual understandings. Don’t like it? Go play cricket. The referee doesn’t even call you out unless the delivering team requests a ruling.
Sure, I wish every boxer was Joe Lewis. When he was getting his butt kicked by Billy Conn in the first fight, Conn slipped a little in the ring. Lewis was way behind on points and looking to lose his title, and this was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of Conn. He didn’t do it, and ended knocking Conn out in the next round. It’s one of the great moments of sportsmanship. However, if he would have, Conn would have had nothing to complain about. Protect yourself at all times. Mayweather has done things like this many, many times in the past, and not without good reasoning behind it. He popped Mosley, Gatti, and several other fighters earlier in his career who forgot that you are not in a boxing ring to talk, to apologize, to smile, to clown, anything. You are there to fight, and that’s IT. If you would like the best example I can give, here it is:
Roy Jones Jr. vs James Toney. RJJ clowned around by dropping his hands and sticking his chin out. Toney did the same thing. RJJ popped him in the mouth and knocked him down. 10-8 round for RJJ. Next topic. (Another funnier version of this is Nate Campbell vs Robbie Peden. Campbell openly invited Peden to punch him in a show of macho bravado. Peden proceeds to knock him into another galaxy with a right hook. Oops…)
Is it a satisfying ending to the night? Tragically, no. The event could have been much, much better without that. However, you simply cannot blame Mayweather. If you want to blame anyone, blame Ortiz. You paid $59.99 to watch a fight, and Victor Ortiz forgot to fight. That’s bulls-t. Hell, you can’t even blame the ref of that one. It’s not his job to block punches, and it’s not Mayweather’s job to not fight if it’s inconvenient for his opponent. It’s supposed to be inconvenient for his opponent to get his ass kicked. That’s the point.