Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s Legal Sucker Punch

The world-champion boxer beat Victor Ortiz Saturday night with a controversial knock-out

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Reuters


Something strange and ugly happened in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

It was a mega fight between boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. and 24-year-old rising star Victor Ortiz, whose life story could have been written by Dickens. It was one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year.

Ortiz, who held the WBC welterweight title coming into the bout, was a 5-1 underdog and it was immediately evident why. He started eating punches from the very first gong. His strategy, or so he said after the fight, had been a badly thought out game plan to survive for four rounds and then come on strong in the later rounds. He figured Mayweather, 34, would get tired. Several boxing people had told me that Mayweather might be getting old for the sport, but there was absolutely no evidence that he was slowing down. Mayweather hits people a lot (46 percent of his punches) and rarely gets hit (only 16 percent of his opponents' punches land on him), according to Compubox. Mayweather more than doubles his nearest competitor in these plus/minus ratings, a good indicator for boxing success and longevity. Mayweather, who is often labeled as a defensive fighter, was so superior to Ortiz that he came forward and delivered wicked combinations, jabs, and just about every other punch he wanted to deliver.

Sitting ringside, it was clear that Ortiz wouldn't make it to the later rounds. Mayweather is a brilliant and complex fighter. Ortiz is a good and courageous one, but he didn't know what to do to counter his elder. Mayweather's orange and black gloves were smacking Ortiz's handsome face with increasing force as the rounds wore on.

Then the plot thickened.

In the fourth round, Ortiz, who is known as "Vicious," was able to trap Mayweather into a corner. He was throwing some good volleys at Mayweather's skull, but then--for some inexplicable reason—he cocked his head and leveled an aggressive head-butt that caught Mayweather on the chin. The crowd was in shock. Ortiz said he wasn't a dirty fighter but his actions said otherwise. Joe Cortez, the referee, penalized Ortiz by deducting a point. The Mexican-American from Garden City, Kansas, seemed mortified at his mental lapse and poor sportsmanship. As way of apology, he approached Mayweather and hugged and kissed him. Mayweather's eyes didn't reveal a forgiving mood. (After the fight he said Ortiz had head-butted him twice—he showed a split lip and a cut underneath his lower lip—and a welt on the back of his head from a series of rabbit punches.) Then came some confusing choreography. The referee separated them, but not in a very authoritative way and never put them in a neutral corner after deducting the point. Ortiz was still in an apologetic mood and looked like he wanted to touch gloves one last time. Mayweather had comeuppance on his mind. He made a motion that he was going to touch gloves, but instead he unleashed a powerful left gotcha punch. As he stumbled backwards, Ortiz looked to the referee in desperation, and then Mayweather nailed Ortiz with a crunching straight right, which put Ortiz down.

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