It wouldn’t be a Floyd Mayweather fight without a little controversy, and the five-division champ provided plenty of that Saturday night with his bizarre knockout victory over Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
A moment after referee Joe Cortez signaled Ortiz to re-engage with Mayweather after an illegal head butt in the final seconds of the fourth round of their WBC welterweight championship bout, Ortiz briefly turned away looking for more instructions from Cortez.
Mayweather saw the split-second opening with Ortiz holding his hands by his side, and Cortez appearing to look away from the two fighters, and unleashed a staggering left hook before following with a powerful straight right that floored the Kansas native. A stunned Ortiz couldn’t get up from Cortez’s 10-count and the fight ended with one second remaining in the round.
“In the ring, you have to protect yourself at all times,” said Mayweather, who improved to 42-0 and claimed his seventh world title in his first bout back after 16 months away from the sport.
“We touched gloves, we were back to fighting and I threw the left-right combo. His corner said I was dirty, but I won the fight and I didn’t do anything (wrong).”
The pro-Ortiz crowd of nearly 14,687 disagreed and let boos ring out as replays on the big screen showed what many inside the MGM thought was a cheap shot.
“I took a break by the referee and I obeyed exactly what I was told,” said Ortiz, who was making his first title defense after winning the belt from Andre Berto in April.
“And then, boom, he blindsided me. There was a miscommunication with the referee, and neither he nor I are perfect.”
Immediately after the fight Cortez told media members Ortiz should have followed boxing’s age-old rule: protect yourself at all times.
“Time was in,” Cortez said. “The fighter needed to keep his guard up. Mayweather did nothing illegal.”
The dirty boxing actually came from Ortiz—who going into the controversial fourth round was trailing on all three scorecards, as two judges had him winning three rounds and the other had him winning two—who after pinning Mayweather against the ropes unleashed an intentionally illegal head butt that cut open Mayweather’s mouth and forced Cortez to immediately deduct a point.
“I’m not a dirty fighter and I apologize for the head-butt,” said Ortiz, who entered the ring with a Kansas University Jayhawk logo stitched on the back of his red, blue, and silver trunks, which also featured an American and Mexican flag.
“I apologized to him after the fight as well. It was in the heat of the moment. In a sense, it was a payback.”
But the 34-year-old Mayweather, 10 years Ortiz’s elder, stealthy and veteran move provided the ultimate payback as he won the bout with a KO, just like he had predicted earlier in the week.
“What goes around comes around,” said Mayweather, who was decked out in black and orange-striped Reebok gear and accompanied to the ring by good friend, and rapper, 50 Cent.
Even before the unique ending, Mayweather was clearly in control of the contest, landing 73 of the 208 punches he threw compared to Ortiz’s 26-of-148. His constant jab was effective throughout and in the third and fourth rounds Mayweather’s right hand was starting to inflict damage.
Ortiz, who made $2 million for the fight, asked for a rematch and point blank said at the postfight press conference that: “It wasn’t a fair fight.”
Mayweather, who was overcame by emotion at the press conference, said he had no problem doing another fight.
“If he feels like it was a fluke or it didn’t get done right, then I’ll do it again,” he said. “I’ll do the same thing again.”
But fans, who have long clamored for a megafight between Mayweather and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, likely wouldn’t want a Round 2 with Ortiz. Then again if Mayweather’s postfight comments are to be trusted, a fight with Pacquiao might never occur.
“We’ve been talking about this for the longest. This boy don’t really want to fight,” said Mayweather, who made $25 million for the fight and likely will make around $40 million with addition of pay-per-view buys, closed-circuit tickets, etc.
“All this boy is doing is fighting my leftovers.”
Vegas’ Vargas wins PPV debut
Jessie Vargas, an undefeated up-and-comer out of Mayweather’s gym, led off the HBO pay-per-view card with a split decision victory over Californian Joselito Lopez.
“I think it was a good 10-round decision. He was a hell of a fighter and I give him nothing but respect,” said Vargas, who improved to 17-0 as judges scored the bout 96-93, 94-95, 95-94.
“I think I fell into his game plan a little bit, but my corner corrected it towards the end.”
Morales wins fourth title
Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KOs) became the first boxer born in Mexico to be crowned a world champ in four different weight classes when he defeated previously unbeaten Pablo Cesar Cano by TKO after the 10th round — claiming the vacant WBC junior welterweight title.
“I’m very happy about winning the fourth title, but it was more difficult than I expected,” Morales said. “He came to give it his all, but I dominated him because of my experience.”
Canelo wins in L.A.
It might not have been the dominating performance he had wanted, but unbeaten 21-year-old Mexican sensation Canelo Alvarez kept his WBC super welterweight title when ref Wayne Hedgepeth stepped in the sixth round to stop his bout against Alfonso Gomez, who was taking significant damage.
The fight was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but shown live on big screens that dropped down over the ring at the MGM Grand.