By Chris Robinson
It’s been a week since the unexpected ending to the ‘Star Power’ pay-per-view in Las Vegas and there is still an aftertaste that can’t quite be washed away. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a champion yet again as he captured the WBC welterweight title with a 4th round knockout over Victor Ortiz but it's the fight's ending and aftermath that caught just as much attention.
The contest was just heating up when Ortiz would intentionally head butt Mayweather and subsequently suffer a point deduction from referee Joe Cortez. Ortiz hugged Mayweather to show his apology but Floyd would have nothing of it, catching him off guard with a quick left and follow-up right hand that dropped the 24-year old to the canvas as he was counted out.
World renowned sports historian and HBO Sports’ Bert Sugar took in the action and still can’t believe the way the fight ended.
“I haven’t seen such chaos in an ending to a fight since the second Ali-Liston fight in Lewiston, Maine in 65’,” Sugar told me. “It was chaos. They still don’t know what the hell happened. Has anybody figured out who Joe Cortez was talking to outside the ring?”
In suffering his third defeat of his career, people have been focusing on Ortiz’s mental lapse towards the fight’s conclusion. Sure enough, after the deliberate head-butt, Victor seemed far too sorrowful to even be thinking about the heat of battle and Sugar feels it caught up with him.
“He kissed Floyd Mayweather and I gotta believe, knowing Floyd, that was the worst thing that could have happened to him. A man is kissing him in the middle of the ring,” a bemused Sugar added.
A win is a win and while Mayweather keeps his undefeated tag that he cherishes so much, the question comes into play as to whether or not he should have delivered those emphatic final punches to an unsuspecting Ortiz. I asked Sugar if he felt that Mayweather was correct with his actions or whether he simply threw a cheap shot.
“It was both. It was a legal sucker punch,” said Sugar. “There was nothing wrong with. Here’s something that nobody who may have seen this fight is alive to tell about it. In 1908 Staley Ketchel defended his title against Billy Papke, and as the custom but not the rule, Ketchel held out his hands to touch gloves at which point Papke hit him in the Adam’s apple, blinded him and he won the fight. Not illegal but sure as hell not ethically or morally a good moment for boxing or for anything.”
The attention then turned to Mayweather’s future in the sport and where he goes from this point forward.
“I’m not sure,” Sugar stated candidly. “Floyd is a riddle within a puzzle within an enigma. You don’t know what Floyd thinks. The one thing you do know, and it’s what elicited his comments and made Larry Merchant say what he said, you can see he is getting very, very, very paranoid. [He was] touchy about the fans, here they are booing and he got very upset and took it out on Larry Merchant. You don’t know whether he will come back ever or take one more fight.”
The one fight people truly want to see from Mayweather is a fight against fellow champion Manny Pacquiao but it has twice fallen apart at the negotiating tables. And while there is a lot of smoke and mirrors involved, Sugar feels he can see Floyd’s actions for what they really are.
“He’s never going to fight Manny. I’ve never thought so. Haven’t we had that discussion before? I never thought it would happen. Here he is, a total disconnect from reality. After the fight he said ‘I’ll fight Manny if he agrees to taking the Olympic-style blood testing’. Has he ever noticed that twice he did, in two different negotiations? No, he doesn’t want to fight Pacquiao and he might not want to fight at all.”