Thanks to some Chinese (I think) web technology, I’ve been able to watch Floyd Mayweather’s last three fights, including Saturday night’s bout against Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas..
During the short fight, I submitted my round-by-round impressions to Twitter:
Given the state of boxing today, one almost has to declare any biases before trying to write objectively about a match, and for that purpose, I’ll state that I was pulling for Mayweather. By all measures, he was winning the fight when it ended in the fourth round. Two of the scorers had all three rounds for him, and the third scorer saw two of three that way.
It’s tough to tell, with the potential arc of the fight aborted by knockout in the fourth round, whether Ortiz was showing signs of desperation or newfound direction when he started fighting more aggressively in what would be the final round. It was easy to tell, though, that the head-butt he laid on Mayweather after forcing Floyd into the corner was intentional, dirty, and against the rules.
Referee Joe Cortez docked Ortiz a point for the move, and in the following interlude, Ortiz embraced and kissed Mayweather, possibly to communicate an apology for the move, although his intentions weren’t entirely clear.
The fighters then touched gloves and the fight resumed. Ortiz failed to return to an active posture, however, and Mayweather nailed him with a completely undefended two-punch combination to the head that knocked Ortiz down and out.
This final series of events– from head-butt to knock out– happened quickly. Mayweather’s KO combination didn’t immediately seem dirty (and all agree that it was within the rules, unlike Ortiz’s head-butt), the end came as a sudden shock, and I found myself asking whether it was really over. In some ways, it had the feeling of a pitcher balking in the championship-winning run. Not wrong, just…not totally right.
On one hand, this is an unfortunate way for Mayweather to win this fight because it was a controversial and somewhat cheap conclusion that opens the door for questioning an outcome that probably wasn’t in doubt. On the other hand, it’s tough to fault Mayweather for doing what he’s trained to do: act upon an opportunity without second-guessing himself because second-guessing takes way too much time. This is especially true where Mayweather’s opponent seemed to be the type of guy who would remain a danger as long as the fight went on because of his ability to land one punch at any time that would end the fight. A war of attrition against Ortiz wasn’t as safe a strategy as it might’ve been against other boxers.
Mayweather draws criticism no matter how he wins. He always wins, though, and that’s all he cares about. Whatever the central theme to Floyd’s everlasting career may be, I have a feeling we haven’t seen the final chapter.
Round four: Mayweather vs. Ortiz