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15 NOVEMBER 2018


Mayweather Flap: Best Thing for Boxing in Years?

By Dave McKee: Is the Mayweather Ortiz controversy the best thing to happen for boxing in years? Almost weekly we read article after article decrying the actions of referees, judges, commissions, and sanctioning bodies. Every week, it seems, the final nail is driven into boxing’s coffin. It’s just a matter of time before the sport vanishes into the dustbin of history.
This is not a new complaint. Boxing is a notoriously insecure sport. Jack Dempsey himself wrote an article in the October 1963 Reader’s Digest offering advice on ‘the boxing mess’.

This morning, however, the most casual fan is engaged with the sport. People who normally ignore boxing, the ‘Tyson fan’, are paying attention. HBO has masterfully taken advantage of interest in the fight by issuing a cease-and-desist order to YouTube, forcing removal of any clips from the fight. You will have to tune in for the official replay, and you probably should have bought the PPV. They are betting you won’t miss the next one.
After last weekend’s controversy the most casual fans are learning the rules of boxing, while hardcore fans are being forced to confront the more ambiguous ‘unwritten rules’. Is boxing a gentleman’s sport? Should it be? What does that mean?

And the hate! The boxing public is divided sharply on the fight. The vitriol being spewed in social media is more unconstrained and violent than anything short of a punch to the face. What does this mean? More butts in the seats. Muhammad Ali taught us that, whether fans want to see a fighter lose or win, they will pay to have the chance. He was right.

What is stunning about this event and its aftermath is that the judges had the right scores and the referee did his job. He clearly called ‘time’ and made the appropriate gesture. The most famous left-hook, straight right combo in recent memory came seconds after this. Many viewers missed the official time-in. Yet the official timekeeper was working the moment Ortiz hit the canvas. Referee Joe Cortez, often the object of derision, did not hesitate to pick up the count.

Perhaps those aren’t the most amazing events after all. The fighter receiving the most flack for putting an ugly face on boxing followed the rules exactly. This, of course, is Mayweather, who allowed a hug, kiss, glove touching and another hug before blasting an opponent who appeared determined not to act like a fighter. The ‘victim’ in this fight is the one who used his head as a weapon at least three distinct times before finally launching his forehead into his opponent’s teeth. Ortiz was arguably having the best few moments anyone has ever had against Mayweather at the time he suffered an apparent mental break.

The arguments will continue. The PPV buys for Mayweather’s next fight will be through the roof. All eyes will be on Ortiz in his next outing to see if he has the heart and mind of a champion, or whether the Maidana and Mayweather fights will define his career. Interest in boxing today is at a peak. Is it good for the sport? Wait and see.

September 21, 2011

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