Mayweather Wins Title, Loses Respect


Last Saturday, Floyd Mayweather captured the WBC welterweight title by knocking out Victor Ortiz in the 4th round. “Money” dominated the first three rounds of the fight, going after Ortiz as he promised the fans he would in his pre-fight interviews. Ortiz had a few flurries of his own which put Mayweather’s back against the ropes. In the forth round however, after delivering a barrage of punches, Ortiz landed what seemed to be an intentional headbutt to the face of Mayweather. Referee Joe Cortez stepped in, separated the fighters and deducted a point from Ortiz. The two fighters were signaled to resume boxing and a split-second after the two men touched gloves and embraced, Mayweather unloaded a left hook and a straight right to knock Ortiz to the floor.
Ortiz wasn’t able to recover from that knock down, handing the victory and the WBC title to Mayweather.

Mayweather’s KO won him the belt, but the manner in which he won it will surely tarnish his reputation. The KO was legal and well-within the rules, but it was a sucker-punch nonetheless. Boxing fans were disappointed to say the least, given the classless ending to a great fight. Former-UFC champ Quinton Jackson said in an interview with MMAWeekly that what happened was not the fault of the fighters, that they were put in there to fight and that it was the referee who dropped the ball. He also pointed out that Ortiz apologized four times before Mayweather threw the cheap shot. One apology would’ve been enough and the fight would officially be underway. Jackson’s bottom line: you can’t blame the fighters for what happened.

After the fight, fans booed and jeered as it was announced that Mayweather had won and as the cheap-shot was replayed. During the post-fight interview, Mayweather made his case saying that what he did was legal, and that you had to “protect yourself at all times” in boxing. Ortiz, on the other hand, said that he blamed no one but himself for his loss and admitted to making the mistake of letting his guard down.

What had the makings of a terrific main event turned into a low-point in boxing history. Referee Joe Cortez dropped the ball big time in this fight, not sending both men to neutral corners before resuming the fight. He was also not aware of the 1-2 sucker-punch of Mayweather as it was taking place, just look at the shocked look on his face in the image above. Apparently, Cortes was looking at the timer to give instructions when the touching of gloves took place, and as he turn to the fighters, Ortiz was already staggered by Mayweather’s initial hook and one punch away from hitting the canvas. Mayweather’s means of winning was surely legal but was in no way in the spirit of boxing. It’s fighter’s etiquette, if you will, to let each other reset after the touching of gloves. For Mayweather, that reset had been established; after all Ortiz had already apologized twice prior to the the third apology which was met by the cheap shot. What made things worse was that during the post-fight interview with long-time boxing analyst, Larry Merchant, Mayweather began whining that Merchant never gave him “a fair shake,” repeatedly disrespecting and cursing at him. Merchant had the last laugh, however, saying that if he “was 50 years younger” he’d kick Mayweather’s ass.

Mayweather holds an undefeated record of 42 wins and zero loses. He has beaten many great fighters like Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya, but has received flack for fighting less than qualified fighters in the bouts prior to his match with Ortiz. I give the Mayweather props for being such a consistent winner in the ring, for his discipline and desire to win. Mayweather is also a relentless promoter who understands the game and business of boxing, but what he did in this fight was just low. It seems that he fights solely for the money, which would do justice to his nickname, and to keep his record looking squeaky clean no matter what. In line with what one commentator said, if you really want to claim that you are the best in the world, you wouldn’t have to do that. And true enough, he really didn’t; he was clearly winning the fight.

What’s hard to understand with Mayweather is that he really wants to be the best and have a long-lasting legacy. He seems to be all about the money, but no man can fight and train as hard as he does and not care about his legacy. A real champ wouldn’t be satisfied with a win like that. A boxer most of all– who’s part of a long history of legendary fighters in a legendary sport known as the “sweet science”– wouldn’t be happy winning like that. Ortiz did throw a headbutt in the fight, one which he later on said was unintentional, but showed some good sportsmanship at the end of the fight claiming the mia culpa and that he’d learn from the experience; now that’s something to be admired. To add more shame to his name and his classless victory, “Money” had to go off on Merchant, whose questions seemed leading but definitely not out of line. If an elderly man can tell you that he would kick your ass, on national television, what more would a young, strong boxer say? If an old guy won’t respect you despite all you’ve accomplished, how can you expect other fighters to respect you?

In the post-fight press conference, Mayweather gave boxing fans even more reason to not take him seriously by continually ducking questions regarding a fight with pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao. Instead of giving a definite yes or no, he would shift topics, whine about not getting enough respect, or insinuate that Pacquiao was using illegal medication. Bob Arum, however, has confirmed that Pacquiao is ready and willing to fight Mayweather, hopefully the latter can do the same.

At the end of the day, Mayweather keeps his undefeated record, but his reputation will forever be tarnished. His recent cheap-shot KO will have the next generation wondering, “how many of those 42+ wins were also won by cheap-shots?” He won’t be remembered as the talented boxer he is, but as a guy who cared more about winning than he did the fans and the sport of boxing. When it’s all said and done, he’ll be the guy who had a flawless record but was happy winning via sucker-punch and as the guy who ducked Pacquiao to preserve his unbeaten streak.

This fight marked a dark day in boxing history, in a time when boxing’s popularity is already on a decline. Lucky for the sport of boxing, there are still plenty of boxers who do their sport justice, the archetype being Pacquiao, whose dominance, charisma and sportsmanlike behavior have earned him the loyalty of legions of fans world wide. Boxing has had a great history and is not all-but-done just yet, but this fight served as a low point for Mayweather and the sport of boxing.

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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