By Ryan Maquiñana
It’s a new week and we’re still debating the merits of what to do when a referee calls time in.
Who knew that two seemingly innocuous words would galvanize such a response from the boxing world?
Instead of returning to our regularly scheduled programming, i.e., any and everything having to do with The Fight to Trump All Fights, we’re still arguing whether or not Floyd Mayweather was right or wrong in taking advantage of the situation to punch a man with his hands down.
Well, let’s get two things straight. The two punches were legal, and Victor Ortiz has only himself to blame for being unprepared for them, regardless of Joe Cortez’s best efforts to ruin another televised fight by turning a blind eye to the action.
In addition, by virtue of knocking out the consensus number two welterweight, Floyd should regain his spot atop the 147-pound rankings for now.
But in the whole grand scheme of things, Mayweather robbed himself of a chance to really silence his detractors on Saturday.
Rather than leaving no doubt by dominating Ortiz without controversy, he opened himself up for criticism and debate from the general public about whether or not what he did was ethical.
Given the context, Mayweather wasn’t some fringe contender trying to win by all means necessary in hopes that any type of victory would bring him a title shot and a decent payday.
On the contrary, he’s one of the two best fighters in the sport, and for someone who proclaims himself to be the best ever, he has to accept that he’ll be held to such a standard befitting the Sugar Ray Robinsons and Muhammad Alis that inhabit that air.
Like it or not, Mayweather will inevitably face scrutiny in terms of hypotheticals like “Would Joe Louis have done it?” It’s the nature of sport whenever the four letters “G.O.A.T.” congregate. As fans and media, we will speculate and scrutinize to no end, because we are infatuated with what makes someone the very best.
Probably over a million people paid 60 dollars (plus tax) in the midst of a tough economy to watch Mayweather make his case that he is the best fighter in the world, and not the man who usurped his position, Manny Pacquiao.
That being said, for the casual fans who made up a sizable portion of those pay-per-view buys, did Floyd make it possible for them to fall in love with boxing again? If you had no horse in the race, would you have come home satisfied with the way the fight ended with more questions than it began?
The lifeblood of any business is the repeat customer, and while some have vowed never to put another penny toward boxing, others opine that those same people will tune in anyway because on some sadistic level, they enjoy his antagonistic nature as the villain.
Nevertheless, when figuring in that the most visible American fighter has averaged only one fight per 11.25 months in the past four years, while the sport continues to engage in a dogfight with the UFC over the 18-35 demographic, one has to wonder how Saturday’s shenanigans will hurt boxing--because only the most ardent of hardcore fans would contend it helped the cause.
Following the postfight (un)pleasantries between Mayweather and HBO’s Larry Merchant, Jim Lampley asked, “Who is tonight’s winner and loser?”
The winner is Floyd Mayweather; based on the lingering controversy surrounding what could have been a spectacular victory, the loser is the boxing fan.
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.