By Jeffrey Freeman
Protect yourself at all times.
It's a simple rule of boxing as old as the sport itself and Victor Ortiz simply failed to follow it. That lapse in judgement cost him his WBC Welterweight Championship last night in Las Vegas as Floyd Mayweather stayed undefeated with an emphatic fourth round KO.
Floyd Mayweather won the first three rounds easily with his amazing defensive prowess and lead right hands. In the fourth, Victor had some success mauling Mayweather on the ropes but then in an act of sheer frustration, a vicious Ortiz flagrantly lunged at Mayweather's face with his head. Referee Joe Cortez immediately took a point from an overly apologetic Ortiz, but then seemed to lose control of the fight following this call.
As the fighters came face to face to resume the action following a command of "let's go!" from Cortez, Ortiz must not have been finished apologizing. Big mistake! Ortiz went to hug Mayweather again, and Mayweather, who had already been kissed by the overly apologetic Ortiz, hit Ortiz with a left hook and then a straight right which sent Ortiz crashing to the canvas as Joe Cortez looked away with a confused look on his face. Ortiz, badly hurt, failed to beat the count and Mayweather had a KO win, which he guaranteed in the buildup to the fight.
It might not have been the classiest move but it was perfectly legal and Floyd was well within in rights to take advantage of the inexperience and naivete of the young Ortiz. Floyd definitely did not like being headbutted but he seemed to dislike being kissed by Ortiz even more. So he kissed him back. With his fists.
Things then got very ugly after the fight as Mayweather verbally assaulted HBO's Larry Merchant in the ring. Mayweather assailed the 80 year old Merchant with a verbal tirade fit for an internet message board. It was truly disgraceful.
To his credit, Victor Ortiz was classy and respectful after the fight. He made no excuses and called the fight a learning experience. For a guy who just got his ass kicked in front of millions of people, Ortiz handled it pretty well.
With his ugly verbal assault against HBO's Larry Merchant, Floyd Mayweather effectively closed whatever remained of the gap between boxing's historic civil discourse and the kind of gutter level trash talk that permeates most boxing message boards these days. All that was left for Floyd Jr. to do was call Merchant a Victor Ortiz "nuthugger" and a "Pactard."