Lem Satterfield

Fighters, referees, writers react to Mayweather-Ortiz controversy

See what some writers, fighters, trainers and officials had to say in reaction to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s controversial fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz this past weekend that earned the five-division titlewinner his seventh crown — the WBC welterweight strap.

Below are their responses:


“As an official, we tell the fighters repeatedly to protect yourselves at all times. And, you know, Ortiz did the headbutt, and Joe stopped it and called time, and deducted a point. 

“At that point, when Joe steps back and calls time back in, the fight continues then. Now the extra apology thing that they did, that’s on them. But you have to protect yourself at all times, because the fight, now, has to start.

“And it’s just unfortunate that Victor had his hands down and got hit with those shots. But we tell them all  the time that you have to protect yourself at all times. I don’t know if that was inexperience on his part or what.

“But, you know, we make the rules very clear. Protect yourself. And if you don’t protect yourself, well, then it’s on you now. There wasn’t a whole lot that Joe could do.”– Kenny Bayless, referee


“Victor Ortiz took the fight to the streets, and Floyd Mayweather finished it in the streets. That headbutt was one of the most egregious fouls I’ve seen in a long time, and Floyd’s supposed to be happy about it?”– Mike Coppinger, BoxingScene.com


“Time was in. The fighter needed to keep his guard up. Mayweather did nothing illegal.”– Joe Cortez, referee of Mayweather-Ortiz


“I like Victor. I’ve known Victor since he was 10 years old. But the way that I see it is that Victor took it to the streets, got frustrated, and tried to use his head like a battering ram to hit Floyd in his face. 

“That’s what he did. Victor took it to the streets, and Floyd finished it.” Kevin Cunningham, trainer of former IBF and WBC junior welterweight beltwinner Devon Alexander.

“It was a cheap shot, and I’m not sure that Floyd would have done it if the referee had been someone other than Joe Cortez.

“That said, it was legal, and Victor Ortiz took the fight down to that level, so he can’t complain that Floyd responded in kind.”– Thomas Hauser, boxing historian


You’ve got adrenaline pumping in the body and every fighter, when in the boxing ring, must always defend himself. You are there to fight. What Mayweather did in there was right, in my opinion. The ref did say, ’box on’.

“But even when he was hit with the first shot, the left hook, you could see Ortiz looking over at the referee — maybe thinking it was a foul and that he hadn‘t said, ‘box on’ — whereas really his hands should have gone straight up and he should have defended himself.

Just before the knockout, Ortiz went in with his head. The reason he did that was because he was frustrated at not getting through the defenses of Mayweather.

“He had to try and hit him somehow. In a way, I think that’s when Mayweather thought, ’right, this is fight night and, you know what, I am going to teach this kid a lesson’.”--Amir Khan, WBA and IBF junior welterweight beltholder.


“I had no issues with that. I don’t know why people are making a big deal about that. They like to do that. Basically what happened is that Joe called timeout after a blatant foul by Ortiz.

“He separated the fighters, takes Victor around the ring, takes a point away, goes to restart them. He turns to the timekeeper and says, ‘Time in.’ Victor decides to hug Floyd yet again.

“I’m not sure how many times he planned on hugging Floyd. Joe had called time in, Floyd waited until Joe had called time in, and then he punched him in the face. Which, I don’t blame Floyd for.

“If a guy headbutts me, I’d want to punch him in the face too. I think that Floyd’s not getting the credit that he deserves. Floyd didn’t retaliate. He waited. He waited. He waited.

“Until the referee said ‘Time in,’ and then he let him have it. Good for Floyd. Good for Floyd. People ask me what was Joe doing. I checked with the timekeeper, and he said ‘Joe turned to us, and he said, ‘Time in,’ and started the clock again.

“He asked if they had hit the clappers yet. Because the clappers happen with 10 seconds left on the clock. The timer said, ‘Yes, eight seconds left.’

“And then, that’s probably around the same time that Floyd threw the punch. But it was a second or two after Joe said ‘Time in.’

“So the time keeper heard Joe say ‘Time in,’ Floyd heard him say ‘Time in,’ and HBO heard him say ‘Time in.’ So I’m very skeptical of Victor Ortiz claiming that he did not hear the referee say ‘Time in.'”– Keith Kizer, chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission


“How can it be a legal sucker punch when the guy just butted the s–t out of you intentionally every second, you know what I mean? That’s not a sucker punch any more.”

“With Victor having been raised in a lawless way, having to fend for himself all of those years, he should know better than to take a fight into street-like warfare and then be totally surprised when that type of fight gets taken back to him in a similar way.

“It surprises me that Victor was raised in a tough situation, but wouldn’t have the street smarts to deal with it. Really, it’s about street smarts. 

“You’re fighting dirty, so have to use your street smarts to stay alert and to say, ‘You know what? Dirty can still come back. It might be something different, but dirty can still come back.’

“But when you get down to it, there is one thing that needs to be kept in mind. And that is that if there are not multiple headbutts, including the last one, which was the worst one of all, then there is no hug with Floyd Mayweather, and there is no knockout punch off of the hug.

“It was a domino effect. Had Victor not done that, that whole situation and that scenario doesn’t even arise. In every way that you look at it, Victor brought it upon himself.”– Paulie Malignaggi, former IBF junior welterweight beltholder and current welterweight contender.


“The two punches were legal, and Ortiz has only himself to blame for being unprepared for them.  In addition, by virtue of knocking out the consensus No. 2 welterweight, Floyd should be number one at 147 for now.”

“That much is true. But in the whole grand scheme of things, I felt that Floyd kind of robbed himself of a chance to really silence his detractors and show how great he really is inside that ring.

“Instead of leaving no doubt by dominating Ortiz without controversy, Floyd opened himself up for criticism and debate from the general public on whether or not what he did was ethical. 

“Floyd wasn’t some fringe contender trying to win by all means necessary in hopes that a win would bring a title shot.  We’re talking about one of the two best fighters in the sport, and for someone who calls himself the best ever, he has to accept that he’ll be held to such a standard befitting that level. 

“We should be arguing that Floyd either can or can’t beat Manny based on the way he handled Ortiz, but instead, it’s Monday and we’re still arguing whether or not Floyd was right or wrong in taking advantage of the situation.”–Ryan Maquiñana from Comcast SportsNet/BoxingScene.com


“It was a legal sucker punch. There was experience involved. Floyd did it once before against Arturo Gatti. First round of that fight, there was a clinch, something was said, Gatti looked at the referee, and Floyd nailed him and dropped him.

Mayweather popped him. My basic feeling is that the crowd was so volatile and in such an uproar, that Floyd understood that he wasn’t going to get all of the props and all of the love that he deserved.”– Larry Merchant, HBO boxing analyst.

“Floyd did nothing to Victor that he wasn’t trying to do to Floyd. Victor Ortiz came into the fight with the intentions of knocking Floyd out. Floyd came into the fight with the intentions of knocking him out.

“Floyd saw the opportunity to knock him out, and he seized the opportunity. What’s wrong with that? That’s the game that we’re in. I thought that it was absolutely the right thing for Floyd to do.

“I mean, the man blatantly fouled him, he came out, they touched gloves, and it’s time to fight. Once you touch gloves, it’s time to fight. This ain’t beach ball, volleyball or even hockey or basketball. This is boxing.”–Hasim Rahman, WBA No. 1 contender and former undisputed heavyweight titleholder


“I thought that Victor Ortiz brought everything onto himself with the illegal headbutt. I think that in boxing, maybe this just has something to do with Ortiz’s inexperience.

“You can’t deliberately foul somebody, have a point taken away and then think that a few seconds later that it’s going to be okay and that that person’s going to forgive you.

“Not in the heat of the moment and not in the heat of battle when both of you guys are trying to win. I think that in that situation, Victor’s got to understand that you’re in the heat of battle.

“According to Joe Cortez, Floyd didn’t do anything wrong. I have to say that if the referee said that time was in, and time was in, then Floyd is going to go about his business. Did he lure Ortiz into maybe a false sense of security with that little hug before? Probably.

“But Ortiz has got to have his wits about him and say, ‘You know what? I’ve got to get my hands up, because this guy’s going to be coming after me.

“The ring is not the place to be distracted when you’re fighting somebody. It’s just not the place for your attention or your mind to wander. Did I think that Floyd sucker punched him?

“No. Not at all, because you have to be aware that you’re in the heat of battle and you’ve got to protect yourself. That’s like the second-to-the-last instruction that they give you in the ring.

“They say, ‘Protect yourself at all times, now touch gloves and come out fighting and come out swinging.’
I think that that it just sort of shows Victor Ortiz’s inexperience in being in big spots and big fights. But I guarantee that it’s a lesson that he’ll carry with him for the rest of his career.”– Tim Smith, New York Daily News

“Well, the basic rule is and one of the first things that the referee instructs the fighter on is to protect yourself at all times. It’s very regrettable that there was a confusion. But Floyd looked like the greatest fighter, as he is right now. It was a tremendous performance.

“Victor tried very hard, and he was very frustrated. He started landing some punches, but lost his mind and did that terrible head butt. It was the headbutt that created all of the confusion, because that led to the point deduction and the apologies and all of that.

“But the fact is that the fight was called to go on, and Ortiz should have been protective of himself. It’s very sad, because the crowd and everyone wanted to continue watching the fight.

“But it was a tremendous performance by Floyd. He is the new WBC welterweight champion, absolutely, no question about it.”– Mauricio Sulaiman, secretary general of the WBC


Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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