Greatest boxer of all time? Or just a coward?

Luke Harman

Floyd Mayweather, Jr., delivers the knockout punch that took the WBC welterweight title from Victor Ortiz, a native of Kansas.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr., delivers the knockout punch that took the WBC welterweight title from Victor Ortiz, a native of Kansas.

Floyd Mayweather Jr took the WBC welterweight title from Victor Ortiz with a controversial fourth-round knockout in Las Vega on Saturday Sept. 17 that prompted an angry response from the crowd and raised questions about his conduct in the ring.

Aggressive southpaw puncher Ortiz (34-3-2) had knocked down 12 of his previous 13 opponents and he pinned undefeated Mayweather against the ropes before being penalized by referee Joe Cortez for an illegal head butt. After a brief time-out, Ortiz motion towards his opponent in the center of the ring by touching gloves apologetically before Mayweather suddenly responded with a sharp left hook and ferocious right that dropped Ortiz to the canvas at 2:59.

As the ten count expired without Ortiz getting to his feet, the bout was over and the hostile MGM Grand crowd booed ‘Money’ Mayweather’s method of victory which improved his professional career record to a perfect 42-0 with 26 knockouts.

Gamesmanship comes into debate here as many would argue that while Ortiz was in the process of apologizing for the head-butt mishap, Mayweather took advantage of his opponents’ off-guard stance and sought to finish the fight in a sharp and unfair manner.

“I got hit with a dirty shot, I was protecting myself at all times,” the 34-year-old said ringside. Asked to describe what happened while viewing the replay on the big screen, Mayweather replied: “We touched gloves and we were back to fighting, then I threw the left and right hand and that’s all she wrote.”

Ortiz conceded the head butt had been unfortunate but was eager to get a re-match with Mayweather for the WBC welterweight title.

”I apologized to him,“ said the 23-year-old Garden City, Kan.-native after slipping to 29-3-2 with 22 knockouts.

“I am not a dirty fighter,” he said. “I am sorry for that. But I was doing just fine until that slip-up so I would love this re-match.“

Ortiz gave his own version of how the bout had ended, arguing: “I was called to break by the referee (after the head butt) and I obeyed exactly as I was told. And then, boom, he blindsided me. It happens. There was a miscommunication with the referee but nobody is perfect and this was a learning experience.”

Watched by a crowd of around 15,000 Mayweather had a confident start landing several body shots early in the opening round and dictated the tempo with a series of accurate right jabs.

Ortiz forced Mayweather to retreat for much of the second round, but a flashy Mayweather retained control and continued to dominate, maintaining the initiative with accurate punching in round three and then upped the pace in the fourth before getting the knockout he had predicted in the pre-fight build-up. He also dominated the official ringside statistics, connecting with 73 of 208 punches thrown to 26 of 148 for Ortiz. Mayweather also landed 61 power punches compared to Ortiz’s 26.

So the question still remains, is Mayweather’s undefeated boxing career tarnished after the controversial climax of this battle with Ortiz? And if the ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather is the pound-for-pound king, greatest boxer of all time that he claims to be, should he need to resort to “dirty tricks” to defeat the likes of Ortiz? That being said, a 42-0 record doesn’t come without raw talent and hard work. Maybe a re-match is what this highly controversial outcome needs to clear Mayweather’s name.

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