Home Columns Attributing Blame For the Mayweather-Ortiz Debacle

Attributing Blame For the Mayweather-Ortiz Debacle

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

Who is Really to Blame for the Ending to the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz Fight?

Once again, another big fight was spoiled by foolishness. Just as it appeared Mayweather-Ortiz was about to turn into a decent fight, Victor Ortiz head-butted Floyd Mayweather. Cagey Floyd feigned magnanimity, only to cold-cock Ortiz while still presumably in the apology stage of that particular interaction.

There seems to be enough blame to go around. Who screwed up the most?

  • The Main Players: Victor Ortiz, Floyd Mayweather, Referee Joe Cortez, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission

Victor Ortiz

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

We all heard a lot of talk about how he had exorcised the demons from the Marcos Maidana fight. Well, not so fast. He once again showed the proclivity to lose his head in a heated situation. While it manifested in a different, and truly bizarre, fashion, “Vicious” Victor showed that he has trouble keeping his poise in stressful situations.

At the very moment when he appeared to be working his way into the fight, he lost his cool and leaped in with a flagrant head-butt. It was almost as if he couldn’t emotionally handle even that fleeting moment of success. To compound matters, he launched into some ridiculous, over-the-top apology campaign. Touch it up and be done with it. Ideally, he should have copped an attitude like, “Yeah I butted you. Whatchu gonna do about it?” How he handled it led to his downfall.

He became caught up in his prolonged apology and lost focus. On one hand, he seemed sincere in his regret for having committed the foul, but he clearly took his eye off the ball. And expecting a character like Floyd to be the consummate sportsman can only stem from a loss of concentration. As Bob Dylan once said, “He ain’t no Gentleman Jim.” At the very least, one should keep their eyes on a guy like Mayweather. But to sleep on him right after you butted him in the mouth is not exactly the embodiment of ring intelligence.

It was an embarrassing moment for Ortiz.

—> Check out the rest of our Mayweather-Ortiz aftermath coverage: The Mayweather vs. Merchant feud, 10 quickfire thoughts on the fight, welterweight division rankings update, round by round results from the PPV

Floyd Mayweather

Point blank: he suckered Ortiz. There was nothing he did which appeared illegal, but it was less than sporting. Then again, why would a guy who just took an intentional, leaping butt to the face be a good sport? Some might find Mayweather’s “protect yourself at all times” blanket excuse to be insufficient, but isn’t there some truth to it? And “all times” definitely includes the moment when you’re squaring off with a guy you just butted in the mouth.

In a way, one had to admire his treachery. It’s difficult to say if the whole episode was calculated. At some point, Floyd appeared to take advantage of Ortiz’ extended apologetic sentiment. Whether he was pretending the whole time to be positively receptive to Ortiz’ attempts to say he was sorry is perhaps doubtful, but he certainly didn’t let a nanosecond pass before transitioning from the “it’s all good” phase to blasting Ortiz to the canvas.

The bottom line is that it is unreasonable to expect Mayweather, or any fighter for that matter, to be a good sport after getting head-butted in the face. If he hadn’t been butted, maybe you could give Floyd some flack for not waiting for Ortiz to be ready. But he had no obligation to wait for Ortiz to lock eyes with him before throwing punches after getting fouled. From a guttural perspective, Ortiz deserved it and you can’t hold anything against Mayweather for doing it.

Joe Cortez

Let it be said that when Cortez’ career is finished, the consensus will rightfully be that he was a benefit to the sport of boxing. The veteran official has a career of which to be proud.

But if it’s okay to point out when fighters are slipping, the same should apply to officials. The hard truth is that Cortez hasn’t been at the top of his game for a while now. I personally bristled upon hearing his appointment as ref for this fight. The final scene is revealing—Cortez staring off at ringside looking at god-knows-what with his mouth agape as Mayweather applied the coup-de-grace. When two fighters at the top of the sport are in the ring, everyone deserves to have an official who is also in peak form.

Cortez did well to notice the butt and also in deciding to begin the process upon which a point is deducted, but then he lost control of the situation. Protocol is that the fighters are separated when a point is being deducted for a foul. The fouled fighter goes to a neutral corner, while the referee grabs the wrist of the guilty fighter or sends him to a corner as he informs the judges of the point deduction. The referee then asks the fouled fighter if he is okay and waves the boxers together. And he’s paying attention the entire time. It’s clean. It’s concise. It works.

But Cortez allowed the fighters to physically interact as he deducted a point, as Ortiz apologized to a (for the time being) receptive Mayweather. His handling of it was just so sloppy. Even the restarting of the fight seemed vague. Joe was staring off into space and the ambiguity of his actions seemed to distract Ortiz, who was looking at Cortez when Mayweather blasted him.

Ortiz certainly shouldn’t have relied utterly on Cortez for his personal safety, but there was negligence. Ortiz likely would not have suffered this fate if Cortez had simply administered a proper handling of the situation.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission

Imagine if you went to prison for 30 years and stopped following the game, only to return and find all the officials were pretty much the same. You would be surprised, wouldn’t you? Maybe we’re just so used to it that it barely occurs to us that the status quo rotisserie of referees is rotated less often than the on-air talent on Wheel of Fortune.

It is incumbent upon the commissions presiding over these events to provide capable officiating at nearly every turn. One way to not do that is to allow the same old cast of characters to grow stale and not do anything about it. It sounds easier than it really is to find capable referees, but it is their job to recruit some young talent. At the very least, they should be more aware who is at their peak and who has eclipsed their usefulness and assign fights accordingly.

The Final Verdict

In a sense, it seems that everybody screwed up. Upon further analysis, it is clear that the bulk of the blame falls on Victor Ortiz and Joe Cortez. The NSAC should also share some of the blame for their official not doing a good job. And at the bottom of the list we have Floyd Mayweather, whose lack of gentlemanly sportsmanship was wholly understandable.