Money Mayweather: The Punch Heard ‘Round the World

I was eleven years young the last time my jaw dropped that dramatically to the floor. Let’s turn back the clock, shall we? Enter summertime, 1997.

It was the first time in my life that I had voluntarily purchased a pay-per-view boxing match. Matter of fact, it was the first time I had purchased anything that didn’t have at least a dozen grams of sugar in it. There was no way to illegally stream anything online back then (did we even have AOL dial-up yet?), and certainly no neighborhood dive bar was going to allow a few snot-nose kids to catch a glimpse of the fight either.

I can’t tell you how many pop cans my buddies and I had to take back to our neighborhood Albertson’s grocery store down the street in order to save up for the epic Tyson-Holyfield rematch. It was one of the more hard-earned, accomplished purchases we had ever made. That was, until a chunk of Holyfield’s ear was spit out into the center of the ring, bloodying up a little spot on the canvas. (In case you need your memory refreshed, click here!)

Jaw, meet floor. Money, meet fire. Just like that, three measly rounds and it was over.

Fourteen years later, my jaw hits the floor with the exact same velocity, and go figure, its cause, a dramatic twist in a boxing match. And what do you know, another monumental waste of money.

Flash forward 14 years.

This past Saturday I order an HBO pay-per-view boxing match featuring one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters to ever lace up boxing gloves. The heavy favorite, Floyd “Money” Mayweather (42-0) was set to take on a young gun Victor “Vicious” Ortiz (29-3-2) who was making his debut on a stage of that magnitude. Never had the lights shined so bright on the 24-year old Ortiz.

Although Mayweather was unquestionably in control of the fight for the first three rounds, the match started to heat up after Ortiz lead an impassioned charge toward Mayweather, causing the champ to back-pedal toward the ropes in a defensive stance. Ortiz was landing a barrage of punches, although none of them seemed to be fazing Mayweather as he was doing a proficient job of evading any solid contact from the wild strikes being thrown his way.

And then it happened.

Just when the fight seemed like it had a chance to balance out and become something special, Ortiz did something incredibly immature, and rather stupid. The young fighter was obviously flustered and as a result, sporadically decided to lunge at the champ with his forehead like a savage free-safety would to a defenseless wide receiver coming across the middle in a football game. The headbutt was bush-league, it was illegal, and it was an act of cowardice. Fortunately, it didn’t land solidly either, because if it had, the fight likely would’ve stopped immediately. Mayweather very well could’ve broken his nose, or had his teeth bashed in through that jabbering mouthpiece of his.

For his reckless actions, Ortiz was docked a point on the score card and it was clear as day that the young fighter had acknowledged that he made a poor choice the very moment after his head struck Mayweather. Ortiz apologetically chased Mayweather around the ring attempting to reconcile a sense of respect that he obviously had just lost from his opponent, the crowd and the millions of viewers at home watching. Although the headbutt from Ortiz was definitely a cheap shot, I found his reaction to be rather amicable, and you could tell he was legitimately remorseful for his spur of the moment decision to cheat the champ.

At this point, I honestly thought the fight was about to turn epic. Epic, in a positive way from a spectator’s standpoint. For a split second, Mayweather was on his heels and looked less nimble than the flawless boxer that fans have always known him to be. I wondered if the headbutt would anger Mayweather and take him out of his game, perhaps forcing him lose his poise and shoot for an immediate knockout blow. Nobody can dance and strike with Mayweather, but what if he didn’t want to dance any longer? In the process, would the champ let his guard down and give Ortiz the slightest opening that he was looking for?

I highly doubt it, yet we’ll never know…

The fighters were brought back together to meet up to finish what would be the fourth and final round. This is when my flashbacks to the Tyson-Holyfield saga swept through my brain. It had been 14 years since I had seen something this crazy unfold before my eyes.

Ortiz was not ready to fight. He understood what he did was wrong, and was adamant about finding a way to even things out like two grown men should do. For Ortiz, being docked a point in the score book wasn’t enough. He wanted to know for certain that Mayweather was willing to forgive him before he put his dukes back up. Ortiz understood he had lost a tremendous amount of respect from one of the greatest fighters to ever live, and he couldn’t throw another punch until Mayweather dropped the grudge and acknowledged that his opponent was sincerely apologetic.

Mayweather did the complete opposite. He suckerpunched Ortiz. He blindsided Ortiz, knocking him senseless with a blow that not only ended his opponent’s night, but also gave a deep black-eye to the sport of boxing in general. I was shocked that something more cowardly than Ortiz’s headbutt could occur just moments later. Again, my jaw hit the floor.

Mayweather backed up his actions by exclaiming that, “what goes around, comes around,” and that a fighter, “should protect himself at all times.” True. However, I believe there is an expected level of sportsmanship and professionalism that comes along with being the face of your entire sport. Yes, referee Joe Cortez lost control of the fight, absolutely. As you can see in the scene above, both Ortiz and Cortez are looking away from what Mayweather is about to do. You could also argue that Cortez was the one that distracted Ortiz from defending himself causing him to look away. Fighters are constantly warned not to touch gloves unless instructed to do so, because of the chance that the opponent could come in with an unexpected blow instead. But wasn’t this situation a little different? Weren’t the circumstances calling for a refresher, a moment to wipe the slate clean?

The debate about Mayweather’s actions swept like wildfire through my Pro Boxing Trap:

There were plenty of writers out there that took the conservative stance behind Mayweather, and preached that ethical point-of-views obviously don’t belong in boxing. “He should’ve been ready,” they insist. However, there was plenty of content that threw Mayweather under the bus, noting that not only did he cheat himself, but even more so, he cheated the fans and the sport of boxing. Even Juan Manuel Marquez–a current boxing title holder–slammed Mayweather for his actions, questioning whether Cortez even signaled for the fight to resume. Marquez–currently ranked the fifth best pound-for-pound fighter in the world by Ring Magazine–insists that a boxing ring is no place for a man to be “sucker punched.”

Marquez continues on to plead that:

Marquez was spot on. His quote adequately sums up my perspective for the entire blog post. Mayweather spoiled an expensive piece of entertainment for everyone. And then he had the nerve to curse out an old man in his post-fight interview, and proceed to thank the fans that paid to watch him fight. The same fans that were collectively booing him out of town.

In my book, Mayweather’s legacy is tarnished. He was quoted in the ring saying that this fight was just another addition to his “legacy,” and that is absolutely correct. He will go down as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters, but he will never earn the tag of one of the greatest champions.

Money Mayweather won’t ever receive another dime out of my pocket. You can count on that.


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