By Luis Sandoval
Normally HBO’s award winning documentary series 24/7 gives us an inside look into a boxer’s life and training camp leading up to the big fight. For the first time, however, 24/7 continued to have their cameras roll and followed both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Victor Ortiz up until they entered and exited the ring on fight night, last Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
By fusing together 24/7 and the actual fight, HBO gave us something that we've never seen in the past on their network. It’s an ingenious idea that I’m sure most fans can get used to, especially when it involves a fight as controversial as Mayweather-Ortiz.
The replay of last week’s big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz opened up with a bonus episode of 24/7. We are taken to the MGM Grand Garden arena where 4,000 fans have gathered to watch the weigh-in of both fighters. As the crowd builds, both fighters are busy back stage as they participate in one final physical exam before getting on the scale.
Both fighters take turns weighing in and posing for the media and fans as they both make the contracted weight. The fighters begin their stare down which quickly turns into a shouting and head-shoving match. Things escalate as Floyd grabs Ortiz by the throat and both fighters need to be separated.
With the weigh-in out of the way, the next order of business is having the fighters choose the gloves they will be using on fight night. Different pairs, inspected by the NSAC, are provided for the fighters to choose from. With both camps next to each other during the selection, Mayweather uses it as an opportunity to do some last minute taunting.
Both fighters leave and head home to get some rest. Victor goes upstairs to check out his accommodations for the weekend: a sky loft suite. The massive room is definitely to the Ortiz’s camp liking as they marvel at the luxurious two story suite.
Floyd returns to his mansion where he relaxes and reminds us that he’s been on this stage before.
“I’m used to it, so, when I get on the stage and all the lights flash, all the cameras are open wide and tuning in, that’s something I’m used to” says a confident Floyd as he watches 24/7 while eating a meal prepared by his personal chef.
We now move to fight night as both fighters arrive to the arena with their teams and settle into their locker rooms. Oscar De La Hoya goes to greet Victor Ortiz and Danny Garcia, and offers some final advice and fight strategy to his young pupil.
Mayweather paces his locker room as he promises to dominate Ortiz despite what his game plan may be. If Ortiz fights hard, Mayweather will beat him in the exchanges. If he tries to box and play chess with Floyd, he won’t be able to hang with the Bobby Fischer of boxing.
“I back up everything I say. Yeah I said it, 41 have tried, 41 have come up short” boasts Floyd as he watches his fighter Jessie Vargas battle Josesito Lopez on tv.
Now if the fight didn’t have enough controversy already, we learn that the drama started even before both fighters stepped in the ring. Apparently both camps had agreed that at 6:30pm, someone from Mayweather’s camp would go to Ortiz’s locker room to witness the hand wrapping. When 6:45pm came and nobody showed up, head trainer Danny Garcia decided to proceed with the hand wraps as he refused to wait any longer.
With one hand almost done, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe, finally shows up. When Ellorbe realizes the hand wrapping process started without him being present, he immediately wants them to start over. Things begin to heat up as Ellerbe argues with both Danny Garcia and strength and conditioning Coach Joe Janik. Team Ortiz does not want to start over while Leonard Ellerbe insists that without someone from Team Mayweather present, they broke the agreement.
The head of the commission is finally brought in and he agrees with Ellerbe and forces team Ortiz to have to start the hand wraps over. A visibly upset Danny Garcia has no choice but to cut the wraps on Ortiz.
With the Margarito hand wrap scandal still fresh in people’s minds, it seems no team is ever going to take a chance with someone from their team not being present to witness the entire hand wrapping process. Mind games or not, Ortiz did not seem bothered or flustered as he sat calmly sat and listened to his music while everything transpired.
The fighters are now ready and do their last minute warm ups. Referee Joe Cortez gives his final instructions to the fighters in the fighter meetings. He ironically cautions Ortiz about headbutts and reminds Floyd he’s fair but he’s firm.
Both fighters begin to walk to the ring as you can’t help but get a gut feeling that you've followed these guys the whole way through. The 24/7 footage blends in with the actual fight footage as they immediately take you from 24/7 right into the fight.
The fight is replayed while giving us different angles and views from the 24/7 cameras. But the most important part comes after the fight, and controversy, as the cameras now follow both Ortiz and Mayweather back to their locker rooms.
Both camps have plenty to talk about as Mayweather shows the damage done to him by the multiple head butts he received during the fight.
Victor Ortiz addresses his team by saying “Tonight, nobody f*ckin lost, alright. Cause I didn’t f*ckin lose in my mind at all! Not for a f*ckin second”. His team vocally agreed with him as they shared his feelings on the situation.
As Ortiz discussed the situation with his team, his manager Rolando Arellano declared Cortez never called for the fight to resume. And while Oscar De La Hoya shared his sentiment, someone who didn’t was the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission Keith Kizer.
In an interview with the 24/7 cameras, Kizer said Cortez called for time in at which point both fighters touched gloves and it was Victor who again wanted to hug Floyd. Floyd then put his hands up and threw the punch and said it was legal.
This additional episode of 24/7, fused together with the replay of the fight, was definitely interesting and entertaining. Even for all of those who watched the fight last week, the new footage definitely made it worth watching the fight again. Much like Showtime’s Fight Camp 360, HBO decided to not only show us what happens leading up to the fight, but what happens right before, during, and after which is probably even more important.
I really hope they continue this trend, especially for the two remaining fights mega-fights of 2011, Cotto-Margarito II and Pacquiao-Marquez.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter @truewest007 and tune in to The Boxing Lab, Boxingscene’s official radio show on Tuesdays hosted by Ernest Gabion, Luis Sandoval and Ryan Burton.