Boxing Glove Notes: Headbutting in Las Vegas

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Saturday, September 17, 2011, had arrived almost like Christmas Eve, at the M.G.M. Grand Arena in Las Vegas, where sports fans and reporters attended to eyewitness two "final exams," the comeback of the icon of boxing, Floyd Mayweather, after a long layoff, and the emergence of a young upstart Victor Ortiz, who was enjoying the adrenalin rush of winning a world title in his first attempt.

What made this night of boxing more electric was that thanks to Golden Boy Promotions, fans were treated to three (3) quality preliminary fights, through split telecasts in different areas, which were worthy of main event status, even at the  M.G.M. Grand Arena.

There were two (2) world title fights: W.B.C. Super Welterweight Champ, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 k.o.'s) successfully defended his crown against former contender series finalist, Alfonso Gomez (23-4, 12 k.o.'s), by a t.k.o. in the 6th round.  A former world champ in 3 weight divisions, Eric "El Terrible" Morales (52-7, 36, k.o.'s), made history by becoming the first Mexican to win a 4th title in 4 weight divisions, k.o.'ing tough contender, Pablo Cesar Cano (22-1-, 17 k.o.'s), in the 10th round.  The opening bout featured a promising and undefeated Mayweather Promotions protégé, Junior Welterweight Jesse Vargas (17-0, 9, k.o.'s), who pulled victory out of defeat by winning a split decision from Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17, k.o.'s), who seemed to be on his way to an upset victory until he tired in the later rounds, even though the referee deducted a point from Vargas for low blows.

The Star Power main event brawl between 6 time-world champ Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 k.o.'s), and W.B.C. 147 pound champ, Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 k.o.'s), from the start of round one, demonstrated Mayweather's great ring generalship which easily won him the first 2 rounds as a result of his speed and counter-punching skills. What initially appeared to be an easy victory by Mayweather -- who did not show any ring rust after his long absence from the ring -- seemingly confused a tentative Ortiz, and deteriorated the fight into a foul filled bout midway into the 4th round, completely initiated by Ortiz's 2 head butts. The second head butt occurred when Ortiz was punching Mayweather on the ropes.  Ortiz suddenly head butted Floyd Mayweather so blatantly that Mayweather suffered a cut under his lower lip causing referee Joe Cortez to stop the fight and deduct a point from Ortiz.

Here is where referee Cortez lost all officiating control in my opinion.  As I see it, if it was a low blow foul, referee Cortez would have sent Mayweather to a neutral corner to recover and ordered Ortiz to another neutral corner until calm was resumed. This is also done when a fighter's eye is severely cut. Then, when and if Floyd Mayweather was ready to continue the fight, it should have been only via Cortez' orders.  Unfortunately, no such order came.

Ortiz of his own volition, walked towards Mayweather apologizing profusely.  Even hugging Mayweather while the referee seemed totally oblivious to what transpired. Suddenly and with bad intent, Mayweather hauled off and hit the carelessly defenseless Ortiz with a left hook and a vicious right, knocking him out.  It was only after hearing the thud of Ortiz hitting the canvas, did Referee Cortez (whose attention had been drawn toward the crowd), wake up enough to walk over and count the severely dazed Ortiz out.  That was it...fight over!   

I am confused as to why Ortiz, whose own trainer Danny Garcia accused Floyd Mayweather of being a "dirty" fighter who uses his elbows, resorted to the dirty tactic of head-butting, since by the end of the 3rd round and certainly the beginning of the 4th round, Ortiz, appeared to have figured out Mayweather's style and was scoring meaningful points as he cornered Floyd up against the ropes; a situation that excited his fans who were thinking of a possible upset.  But, that was not to happen due to Ortiz's flagrant illegal act.  

What I don't understand is why Floyd was booed when he hit Ortiz cleanly. And, why Ortiz was not booed when he viciously fouled Mayweather despite the partisan Ortiz crowd. Mayweather was just acting in accordance with the Marquis of Queensbury rules, which are "protect yourself at all times."  As far as Mayweather knew, Ortiz's gesture to hug him might have been calculated to hit him instead. Despite all claims by Referee Cortez that he ordered the fighters to resume, I never heard that order. I thought that the fighters were acting of their own accord without the directive of the referee, who is the primary ring official.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was clearly within his rights to protect himself especially after being fouled so unfairly.

During the post-fight interview, Mayweather stated he was willing to give Ortiz a rematch. "But the results would be the same" claimed the pugilist.  Although in reality, as this reporter sees it, Floyd Mayweather simply added another belt to his multiple collection of championship belts, even though Floyd claims to believe that "belts are just made to hold up your pants," and it is the money that counts!   Who is going to dispute him, since he grosses $25 million or more every time he fights with no belt at risk.

Things went from bad to worse when H.B.O. expert commentator, Larry Merchant, got into a profane shouting match with Mayweather by repeatedly demanding Mayweather explain his "sucker-punching" of Ortiz. Super sensitive Mayweather responded by cursing Merchant out who reacted by threatening to kick Mayweather's ass had he (Merchant) been 50 years younger.  For a world renowned media person, Larry Merchant behaved unprofessionally.  Merchant should have simply walked away. So much for "A Night At The Fights!” 

Moving onto the future:  It is hoped that the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight is still on for 2012 since it is expected that Pacquiao will beat Marquez again.  There is of course the added incentive of a mind-boggling $100 million dollar offer made to Mayweather to fight Pacquiao, perhaps in the Philippines.


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