Mayweather’s KO: Cheap Shot or Tough Brakes?

Mayweather drops Ortiz
Mayweather drops Ortiz
Who was more at fault for the controversy in Las Vegas?

By Mike Sloan: Jim Lampley said it best after Floyd Mayweather knocked Victor Ortiz into orbit with a textbook left/right: “Floyd definitely will not make any new fans with this.” Lampley is right.

The majority of boxing fans hated the guy before he climbed through the ropes to take on Ortiz and after he clobbered his foe with what many deem a dirty move, the number of Mayweather detractors grew tenfold. But the question that has been asked around the MGM, around Las Vegas, around the globe and all over the internet was whether Mayweather was a punk for hitting an inattentive Ortiz or if the Mexican-American was just a dope for putting himself in that position.

Trying to sound as objective as humanly possible because I’ll be labeled a Mayweather fan after this, I personally feel that Ortiz got what he deserved. Now, before you, the loyal readers of, flood my inbox with seething hate mail you need to first understand where I’m coming from. For starters, the number one rule of boxing is to protect yourself at all times. Don’t worry about what the referee is or isn’t doing: keep your eye on your opponent and keep your gloves up.

I understand why Mayweather cracked Ortiz when he was oblivious to the goings-on inside the ring and I understand why everybody (for the most part) is up in arms about the outcome of the HBO Pay-Per-View-televised main event. However, I thought it was rather amusing that Mayweather popped Ortiz when and why he did it.

The fight was already slipping away from Ortiz and it appeared up to that point that it was a matter of time before “Money” started pouring on the leather. Ortiz was getting hammered by Mayweather’s counter and lead right hands, had already been stunned by two short uppercuts on the inside and he couldn’t land anything clean. Granted, there were two situations in the fourth round where Ortiz pinned Floyd against the ropes and corner, but when he flailed away at his nemesis, almost every one of his punches missed. The young lion was growing increasingly frustrated and he decided to foul Mayweather by leaping up and ramming his cranium into Floyd’s chin.

Referee Joe Cortez did the right thing by quickly docking a point from the Ventura, California fighter and the reason why he took the point away is because it wasn’t the first time Ortiz used his head as a weapon. It wasn’t the second time, either. Or the third. Or the fourth.

Ortiz started ramming his head into Mayweather’s face as early as the first round. In total, Ortiz went Junkyard Dog on Mayweather a total of six times before his dirty tactics cost him a point and, in effect, the fight. Sitting ringside, I caught only three instances where Ortiz deliberately used his head as a weapon but when I got home Saturday night and rewatched it on my DVR, the number of fouls he committed literally doubled.

Now, I’m all for fighters who bend the rules, as they say. Fighters who are masters of fouling when the ref is out of position are deemed “crafty” or they “know all the tricks.” Guys like Felix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins, Joel Casamayor, Roberto Duran, Eusebio Pedroza, Julio Cesar Chavez, Evander Holyfield, etc were lauded in their days (and still today) for using such tactics to get an advantage. Craftiness and cunning aside, they were artistically dirty fighters. Ortiz’ actions against Mayweather were no different but since he was knocked senseless by a two-punch combo that came when most felt it shouldn’t have, it’s turned Mayweather into an even bigger villain and Ortiz into a victim.

Ortiz willingly apologized to Mayweather once Cortez stepped in to penalize him. However, he only apologized because he got caught. That’s pretty obvious because he didn’t immediately stop once he landed that sixth head butt; he kept swinging away. That’s all fine and dandy, but where Ortiz ultimately messed up is that he continuously kept trying to apologize and hug Mayweather.

Obviously, sitting ringside in a raucous arena such as the MGM, it’s near impossible to hear Cortez where I was sitting, about eight rows back from the ring. When I watched the fight again when I got home, Cortez loudly told both fighters, “Let’s go!” after he sternly scolded Ortiz. For those of you who might not be aware, Cortez usually says or yells, “Let’s go!” when he resumes the action. Not “box” or “continue” or “let’s get it on.”

To be fair to both fighters, I watched that segment several times and counted the amount of time before Mayweather took Ortiz out. From the time the two combatants squared off after Cortez yelled, “Let’s go!” a total of six seconds passed until Floyd hit him the first time. In that span of six seconds, Ortiz twice tried to hug/embrace Mayweather. On top of that, he dropped both of his arms and took his eyes completely off an extremely dangerous opponent.

In defense of Mayweather, exactly how long was he supposed to wait for Ortiz to actually start fighting again and how many times was he supposed to hug his opponent? When the referee instructs the fighters to fight, it’s on. It’s time to go. Protect yourself at all times, fellas.

Like I said previously, I don’t have a problem with Mayweather taking out Ortiz in the manner that he did. Was it a crummy way to end a major fight? Yes. Was it a move that lacked total class on Mayweather’s part? Yes. Do fans of Ortiz have the right to be enraged by how the fight ended? Certainly. But were the punches from Mayweather in the confines of the rules of the sport and were they 100% legal? Absolutely.

Had Mayweather done what he did without being head butted deliberately – and the key word is deliberately – this column would have a much different tone. The punch would still have been legal but if it materialized unprovoked, he’d assuredly be lambasted in this column for being a crocodile. But since Floyd was defending two gloves and a head for almost four full rounds, I stand beside him and understand why he took advantage of a defenseless (see: stupid) Ortiz.

It’s easy to point fingers at Mayweather for being a punk for what he did. On the flip side, most of the vitriol is coming toward him from media and fans who despise him. Mayweather is not a perfect citizen and it’s quite simple to comprehend why so many people want to see him get his block knocked off by somebody, anybody. But to look at the circumstances with clear goggles and with a level head, Ortiz was frustrated and resorted to repeatedly cheating. He got what he deserved on multiple levels: for deliberately fouling and for being a dummy by dropping his guard and looking away when Cortez clearly shouted for the fighters to continue fighting.

Why Mayweather has yet to fight Manny Pacquiao is an entire column altogether, but in keeping with the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s fight, Mayweather knocked out Ortiz in a maneuver that was entirely within the rules of the sport. Was it the classy thing to do? No, no it wasn’t. But for everybody who is calling for Mayweather’s head, ask yourself this question: How exuberant and delighted would you be had the roles been reversed? Would you be calling Ortiz a dirty scumbag had he done that to Mayweather? I doubt it. Let’s not try and hide the hypocrisy: he’d be considered the Greatest American Hero.

You can also contact Mike Sloan at

September 18, 2011
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