“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 [referee] Joe [Cortez] called timeout after a blatant foul by [Victor] 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,” Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“That’s [Kizer] the same guy who picked Cortez. That’s the same guy who was charged with the responsibility of protecting the fighters in the four corners of the ring and failed to do so. So that gives him a whole helluva a lot of credibility… So next time Ortiz cheap shots someone, then I want the Nevada Athletic Commission director to applaud him also. What a f___ing joke that is,” Rolando Arellano, Victor Ortiz’s manager.
The trio asserted that Ortiz was not only unfairly dethroned as welterweight titleholder during his fourth-round knockout loss to Mayweather at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but that the 24-year-old fighter deserves a return bout.
“We’re going to explore every single option that there is for Victor Ortiz to get this Mayweather rematch,” said De La Hoya, adding that Mayweather will fight Ortiz again if he has “honor.”
“If it doesn’t happen, then we’ll go back to the drawing board and explore every other option for his next fight.”
While De La Hoya called the actions of Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts) “bad sportsmanship,” and Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) called the finishing blow, “a cheap shot,” Arellano went even further.
Calling Mayweather “a punk” who “pot-shots” Ortiz, Arellano said his fighter was simply retaliating after having been the victim of illegal tactics, including elbows, from Mayweather.
Others, like trainer Kevin Cunningham, disagree.
“I like Victor. I’ve known Victor since he was 10 years old,” said Cunningham, who trains former IBF and WBC junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander.
“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.”
The situation developed in the fight when Ortiz went to embrace Mayweather and to apologize for a third time following an earlier illegal and intentional headbutt, this, after having been warned for an even earlier such infraction.
Mayweather briefly obliged. But in the next split-instant, Mayweather nailed Ortiz — whose hands still were down at his side — with a head-swiveling left hook followed by a straight right that sent Ortiz sprawling to his back.
“Victor was displaying the highest standards of sportsmanlike conduct and was apologetic. Being a gentleman of the sport, he goes to apologize,” said Arellano. “But you know what this punk does? Pot-shots him.”
Arellano said referee Joe Cortez did not appear to be looking directly at the fighters until the first of Mayweather’s punches landed.
Arellano said he had expressed concerns to Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which regulates boxing in the state, about Cortez’s officiating during a meeting the day before the fight.
“If the referee is not going to protect the fighter there, after the fighter complains, ‘Hey, man, he hit me two times,’” said Arellano, “Victor Ortiz basically did what he had to do to defend himself.”
Ortiz rolled to his right and reached his hands and knees but failed to beat the 10-count of Cortez.
“Floyd clearly started the way that the street-fight began… I was in the ring, personally with Floyd Mayweather, who loves and endears his elbows. But I wasn’t having it. I apologized for the headbutt. I got a point deducted for it,” said Ortiz.
“But I ended up getting the boot for it in the end anyway. Personally, I think that was a cheap shot. I don’t care what you call it. At the end of the day, Floyd is not respected by me and never will be in my eyes as a pound-for-pound fighter.”
“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,” said Malignaggi.
“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.”
“When in the boxing ring, you 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,’” said Khan.
“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.”
Ortiz said he thought Mayweather panicked because he was on his way to his fist loss.
“I had the upper hand in that fight and I personally think that he was fearing the fact that I was coming on, round-after-round,” said Ortiz.
“I was getting stronger, he was getting weaker, and his punches weren’t phasing me. Every punch of mine, he was smiling. Fighters smile when they’re hurting.”
But RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins said it was the other way around.
“Floyd Mayweather, you know, I believe that he was just getting into his rhythm and was about to make it a whole lot worse for Victor Ortiz. Victor Ortiz, I believe was frustrated and understood what was happening, and understood what was going to happen in the fight continued the way it was going,” said Hopkins.
“That headbutt was a result of frustration and his inexperience. …Floyd did what I would have done. You know, we can call it a sucker punch, yes. But it was a legal sucker punch…So Mayweather did what I would have done under the circumstances.”
Although Arellano blamed Cortez, referee Kenny Bayless, who worked an under card fight on Mayweather-Ortiz, supported Cortez’s actions.
“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,” said Bayless directly after the fight in a lobby at the MGM.
“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.”
If a rematch with Mayweather doesn’t happen, would Arellano and De Le Hoya consider a return bout with IBF titleholder Andre Berto, whom Ortiz dethroned by unanimous decision in April that featured two knockdowns each of both fighters?
“We have an obligation as the promoter and the manager to exhaust all of our resources to try to get some type of redress for this Mayweather fight. If we’re not successful in our efforts, then we’ll look at the next best thing for Victor Ortiz. Is it really Andre Berto? Because we don’t need Andre Berto. Andre Berto needs us,” said Arellano.
“I can take Victor Ortiz and put him in any Hispanic market across the United States and fill up an arena. Can you do that with Andre Berto? Absolutely not. Maybe an interim belt. Maybe we re-position ourselves for No. 1 so that we can actually make Mayweather come back into it.”
“But if Manny Pacquiao doesn’t fight him, where is Mayweather going to make the most amount of resources?” said Arellano. “The only honorable thing to do here is to get him the rematch.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org