FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. vs. VICTOR ORTIZ
Sept. 17, 2010, Las Vegas, Nev.
Comment: Here is one definition of gamesmanship: The use in a sport or game of aggressive, often dubious tactics, such as psychological intimidation or disruption of concentration, to gain an advantage over one’s opponent. With his ability to hit and not be hit, the 34-year-old Mayweather does that to just about everyone. And he did it to the 24-year-old Ortiz on Saturday night. Like it or not, Ortiz lost his head, his concentration and, eventually, the fight by fourth-round knockout because Mayweather frustrated the younger man, saw an opportunity and took full advantage of it. When Ortiz went to embrace and apologize for a third time for an earlier illegal headbutt, Mayweather briefly obliged. But in the next split-instant, the veteran also recognized — which Ortiz did not — that referee Joe Cortez was not paying full attention. Mayweather had said that the fight would end by knockout, which the fight did. The ending won’t sit well with Ortiz fans, but it is what it is — Mayweather’s 42nd win without a loss, his 26th knockout and a strong message about experience versus inexperience in a big fight.
Comment: It was Mayweather who had been accused of being the dirty fighter entering the bout, but he turned out to be the finely-skilled, master boxer that he has been throughout his career. Add opportunist to that description as well. Mayweather’s lead rights, jabs, hooks off the jab, follow up right hands and combinations appeared to goad the game Ortiz with the “get-back” mentality, leading the young bull into the veteran matador’s trap. Did he have to end the fight the way that he did? No. So Mayweather gets an A for strategy, but a C+ for character. In the end, however, boxing is not Tiddlywinks. It’s the hurt business, and fighters are told to “protect yourself at all times.”
Comment: Ortiz was game and physical. He displayed decent power with his hands, a solid chin during the early going, and a willingness to engage the veteran. But he was also flustered by the crafty Mayweather and either ignored the warnings of Cortez about head butting or simply lost control. At any rate, the younger fighter turned the boxing match into a street fight, but could not handle it when Mayweather came to that level. Ortiz unraveled with a blatant, charging head butt foul, lost focus and intensity after being penalized a point by Cortez, and then, with his hands down, was cold cocked into unconciousness by Mayweather’s left hook, right hand combination. Lesson learned? We’ll see.
ROGER MAYWEATHER, MAYWEATHER’S TRAINER
Comment: It was routine for Mayweather’s 49-year-old uncle, who remained calm and focused and appeared to go more or less unnoticed throughout the fight. But uncle Roger Mayweather’s work was apparent the moment his nephew landed his first lead right hand, and then, ducked beneath the initial counter-left by Ortiz — just as Mayweather Jr. does during their mitt-work. When Ortiz went down, Roger Mayweather said that he knew Ortiz would stay down. “He was getting his a– kicked. He was trying to find a way to get out of there,” said Roger Mayweather. “He knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t want to get up.”
DANNY GARCIA, ORTIZ’S TRAINER
Comment: Danny Garcia should receive credit for having Ortiz demonstrate his bravery and physical strength by engaging Mayweather early. The left crosses and right hook to the head and body were also good strategy. Where Garcia may have failed was in preparing Ortiz for the finish, particularly with all of the pre-fight concerns he had about referee Cortez in the first place. Garcia and Ortiz’s manager, Rolando Arrellano, had expressed concern that Cortez had favored Mayweather and Amir Khan, respectively, in their bouts opposite Ricky Hatton and Marcos Maidana. During the moments leading up to his demise, Ortiz should have somehow been in communication with Garcia. If that is not a routine that is in place during critical moments in a fight, then, definitely from now on, it should be.
Comment: The judges had an easy job during the main event. They were a non-factor, obviously, due to the bout’s early ending. For the record, however, Adalaide Byrd and Glenn Trowbridge had Mayweather pitching a shutout, 30-27, with Jerry Roth giving Ortiz the first round and Mayweather the next two for a score of 29-28, Mayweather. RingTV.com’s Lem Satterfield had it for Mayweather, 30-27.
Comment: Tough call here for Joe Cortez. Depending on whom you ask, Cortez is either incompetent or free of blame. “As an official, we tell the fighters to protect themselves at all times. Joe stopped it and called time and deducted a point,” said referee Kenny Bayless. “At that point, when Joe steps back and calls time back in, the fight continues then. The extra apology thing that they did, well, that’s on them.” Replays show that Cortez did not appear to have his eyes on either fighter when Mayweather’s first of the two final punches were thrown. Perhaps Cortez could have been more vocal with his instructions or been more demonstrative with his intentions. But Nevada State Athletic Commission Chairman Keith Kizer said he had “no issues” with the way the fight ended. “I checked with the timekeepers and they said that Joe said, ‘Time in,'” said Kizer. “The time keepers heard him say time in, Floyd Mayweather heard him say time in, and HBO heard him say time in.'”
Comment: The emotional crowd was partisan to Ortiz, cheering him as he bounded into the ring prior to the fight. The fans were boisterous with every punch Ortiz threw. They chanted “Ortiz! Ortiz!” to no avail. So most of the fans on hand left the arena in bitter disappointment following Ortiz’s defeat, even as they still supported the vanquished fighter. Mayweather was booed following his obscenity-laced, post-fight exchange with HBO’s Larry Merchant.
Comment: Excellent junior welterweight clash between Jessie Vargas and Josesito Lopez, with Lopez being the aggressor and Vargas, the boxer and mover out of necessity. When they weren’t trading, Vargas was either jabbing and countering effectively or Lopez was digging to the head and body and roughing up his rival. After being pounded in the eighth round, where he also lost a point for a low blow, Vargas rebounded to win the ninth and make the fight close. Although Vargas eventually won the all-action bout on a split-decision, RingTV.com had it for Lopez, 95-94. After that, 34-year-old Erik Morales won a bloody war by 10th-round stoppage over 21-year-old Pablo Cesar Cano for the vacant WBC junior welterweight belt, becoming the first Mexican-born fighter to win four titles over as many different weight classes. Although Morales bled from his own left eye, both of Cano’s were nearly closed, while his left bled more profusely than Morales.’ Cano’s corner stopped the fight, which Morales led on the judges cards of Tim Miller and Ricardo Ocasiso, with Dave Moretti having it even at 95-95. Morales out-landed Cano, 214-207, overall, with an advantage of 100-to-82 in jabs. Cano landed more power punches, 119-114.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com