LAS VEGAS – Controversy and boxing go together like hand in glove as an ugly scene unfolded last Saturday night when undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. sent Victor Ortiz to the canvas in their World Boxing Council welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Late in the fourth round, Mayweather and Ortiz were involved in a tight squeeze, and the 24-year-old Ortiz became frustrated because he couldn’t get his gloves free.
What he did before 14,687 fans was intentionally head butt Mayweather at least once and perhaps twice according to the six-time world champion in five weight classes.
Moments later, Ortiz (29-3-2 with 22 knockouts) hugged Mayweather and then Referee Joe Cortez apparently said something to Ortiz because he looked away for a second.
When he did, Mayweather landed a short left and a booming right that knocked him out with one second left in the round.
“I’m blessed to be in this position,’’ said Ortiz, who took the WBC belt from then-undefeated Andre Berto in April. “I apologized to him, and he caught me with a payback.”
Ortiz felt he would have prevailed if not for his mistake. “I do want a rematch,’’ he said. “Floyd’s a great fighter. I wasn’t concerned with what happened. It was a slip up on my part.”
Mayweather, dressed in orange and black trunks, said he would oblige, but more importantly unveiled a tactical game plan that he executed to a tee.
How impressive are these numbers? In all three punch categories Mayweather had a higher percentage of total punches landed (35 to 18), power shots (49 to 22) and jabs (14 to 0).
“I was warming up,’’ said the 34-year-old Mayweather. “There were a couple of head butts. But only the strong survive. And like the referee says, you have to protect yourself at all times.”
Judge Jerry Roth had Ortiz claiming the first round, while Glenn Trowbridge and Adalaide Byrd favored Mayweather. All three agreed Mayweather captured the next two rounds as he piled up points while toying with the left-handed Ortiz.
“He was slowly breaking down as the fight wore on,’’ said Mayweather, who raised his record to 42 wins with 26 knockouts. “Even if it didn’t end in the fourth round, it would have ended.”
For four rounds, Mayweather was able to catch Ortiz with right leads. It became clear Ortiz, who had a point deducted in the fourth, was weary of Mayweather’s hand speed, and didn’t want to mix it up.
Sometimes Mayweather can be a defensive boxer who waits for his chance. This time he was the aggressor.
“I’m going straight to him,’’ said Mayweather, who has also beaten Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley, but the bout everyone clamors for is Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.
“I’ll fight him, but I’m not sure he wants to fight me,’’ he said. “The reason he’s famous is because his name is attached to mine. You know early when someone’s going to be great. We knew Sugar Ray Leonard was going to be great when he was in the Olympics, Michael Jordan when he was in college and Kobe Bryant when he was in high school. All of a sudden this guy [Pacquiao] starts at 106 pounds, and now he’s beating guys way bigger than he is. Something’s wrong here.”
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.