LAS VEGAS – Boxing is a sport in which anything can happen. This past Saturday evening at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, a new and ugly chapter was written.
In what looked to be a promising clash between a living legend and an up-and-coming star, there was a head butt administered by Victor Ortiz, an apology on his part, then two punches from Floyd Mayweather Jr. – the second knocking out the 24-year-old left-hander with one second left in the fourth round.
It was strange and bizarre to say the least, and for the 14,687 fans who witnessed the event, a real sense of loss enveloped the building because there was high hope the scheduled 12-round World Boxing Council welterweight title fight would shed some light.
But it wasn’t meant to be, and those backing Ortiz, a 5-to-1 underdog, were highly disappointed at how the fight ended. Was it a pair of cheap shots?
“I’m not a cocky-type of person,” said Ortiz. “Every fight’s a learning experience. It was a good shot. They took a point away from me [for the head butt]. But I’ll be a champion again.”
Mayweather’s amazing hand speed and timing are nearly perfect, and on this night his right hand set the tone as he captured the opening round on Judges’ Glenn Trowbridge and Adalaide Byrd’s scorecards, while Jerry Roth voted for Ortiz. However, all three agreed the next two rounds belonged to Mayweather.
What transpired in the fourth round was something out of the “Twilight Zone.” Early in the stanza, Ortiz found the range and landed several solid punches before the pair eventually became entangled.
Ortiz (29-3-2 with 22 knockouts) was unable to get his arms free, and then went dirty, launching his head into Mayweather’s mouth.
“He head butted me not once, but twice,” said the 34-year-old Mayweather, a six-time world champion in five weight divisions. “Only the strong survive. And like the referee always says: protect yourself at all times.”
Ortiz came over to Mayweather (42-0 with 26 KO’s) and hugged him. Referee Joe Cortez deducted a point from Ortiz, who won the WBC belt from then-undefeated Andre Berto in April, and looked at the time keeper.
When he did, Ortiz, who later said the Hall of Fame referee uttered something, briefly took his eyes off Mayweather, who then unleashed a left hook followed by a long right. Just like that it was over, and the real chaos began.
“I’m blessed to be in this position,” said Ortiz, who grew up an orphan in Garden City, Kansas along with his brother and sister, but who now resides in Southern California. “I apologized to him. He caught me with a payback, but I do want a rematch.”
Ortiz said he respects Mayweather as a boxer. “Floyd’s a great fighter,” he said, “but I’m not concerned with how it ended. I was warming up. It was the fourth round. I made a mistake. It was a slip up on my part.”
There were no mental freezes for Mayweather, who was cool as ever at the post-fight press conference.
“He was starting to break down as each round wore on,” he said. “I’m going straight to him. I could see his face bust up as the fight wore on.”
It appeared that way, but we’ll never know for sure.