By Mark F. Villanueva
It reveals who we truly are, what we are not, and certain traits we may not have known ourselves to possess. Emotions complicate things and it ran too high when Victor Ortiz’ frustrations got accumulated over his failure to execute his game plan right from the start of the fight that spurred him off his character to lunge a head butt against a cornered opponent. Floyd Mayweather Jr. was always a step ahead and evidently quicker and too talented in their chosen craft. Victor Ortiz prides himself for being a world champion with a high knockout ratio and nothing could probably be more frustrating for such a brave young man than the realization that he had been reduced to being ordinary in the eyes of millions all over the world. I watched him apologize on television, highlighting on his imperfections. “I am not a cheater” he stated, and I personally believe him. He may have been just as surprised for his actions as we all are. That’s what emotions do to people. It sweeps you in a way where at times we cannot trust our own selves completely. So why did Ortiz trust that his enemy would not hurt him?
I’ve seen a lot of bizarre things happen in Boxing, such as that day Mike Tyson bit a chunk off Holyfield’s ear. You would not believe the tension that builds up once you get inside the ring. The moment you slip in anything can happen. We are all switched to survival mode to a certain degree. That is why the very first day you gather enough courage to lace up your boxing gloves you are told to protect yourself at all times. And this instruction is repeatedly told by a referee to each fighter at every fight. I would like to say Ortiz was being naive to approach his foe with his hands down, but no, he was stupid.
I believe I heard Joe Cortez say “fight” before it all happened, which is now a subject of heated debate. I believe I heard him say it. Regardless if he actually had said it is overridden by the fact that after he had taken a point from Ortiz for the headbutt he had motioned both fighters to fight, which they acknowledged by proceeding towards the center of the ring. They touched gloves and technically the match had resumed. Why he had to hug Floyd Jr. again at that moment, as if the kiss and a hug earlier was not enough is beyond me. As a world champion boxer he should have known that very moment was not the right time to be cute. Always keep your guard up. Floyd Mayweather Jr. was clever enough to recognize this stupidity like a shark sensing blood a mile away and hammered him with a trademark left hook and a hard right that knocked him out cold. Ugly but legit. What is legal is not always moral. It was as disrespectful as the post fight interview when Mayweather Jr. lambasted HBO’s Larry Merchant with his “You don’t know shit about boxing” tirade.
Controversy aside, Mayweather completely shut out Victor Ortiz with “vicious” lead rights. He kept throwing it like target practice towards a frigid Ortiz who showed insufficient head movement. As I wrote a day before the fight, Victor Ortiz is too predictable and that’s how he kept timed cleanly with easy counterpunches. That was expected. He was also giving up his height by fighting small, and it’s a well known fact that Floyd Jr. makes perfect fodder out of smaller fighters with his long reach. Instead of being the pressure fighter, he was the one being grilled all night as his challenger to the throne kept moving forward and beating him to the punch most of the time. He was forced to move around and box, instead of brawl, which is his specialty, by a genius boxer. Floyd Jr. had him right where he wanted him to be. To me, he had already lost that fight before he actually lost.
Commentating on the Mayweather versus Ortiz fight is a good friend of mine, Wayne McCullough together with Benny Ricardo. McCullough is a former world champion who is known for giving the Mexican legend Erik Morales the toughest fight of his career. I caught up with Wayne and asked what he thought of the controversial knockout by Mayweather:
Wayne: After Ortiz fouled Floyd, the referee should’ve put them in neutral corners. Mayweather threw cheap shots. Cortez should’ve had two points deducted and given Ortiz five minutes to recover.
Mark: He did separate both fighters on neutral corners. Did you hear the ref say “fight” ? I believe I did.
Wayne: They weren’t in neutral corners, Mark, if Mayweather was able to land two shots and Ortiz was close enough to kiss him. Joe didn’t even have his eyes on the fighters when Mayweather landed those shots. And I did not hear him say box. Joe was still looking at the timekeeper waiting for their instructions to restart the fight.
Bizarre things happen in boxing where fighters are understandably high strung. It’s no UFO sighting but Mayweather’s act was certainly not manly, although valid. And after the fight one of my friends had to say, please! no more kissing in the ring, and I said this fight literally reminds me of that movie Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang which by the way is no love story.
I end my article by going back to the first rule. Protect yourself at all times.
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Born and raised in the Southern Philippines, a region with a vast history of cultivating past and current world boxing champions including Pound 4 Pound King Manny Paquiao.
Mark currently lives in Iloilo City and is a graduate of Political Science at the USC in Cebu City but later on dropped out of Law School after a personal realization that a dry and frigid legal system sparked very little to no interest in his mindset.
Some of Mark’s works are published in other top boxing sites such as Phil Boxing, Pacland, and NowBoxing.