“Protect yourself at all times.”
That is the first rule every kid learns when he laces up his first pair of gloves. Ortiz was caught up in the moment and forgot the golden rule. He committed two fatal mistakes in the fourth round; an illegal head butt, which lead to a point deduction and he did not protect himself, which lead to him being KO’d.
The reaction of the boxing world was a mixture of emotions; joy, anger, confusion, disgust, outrage, embarrassment, but whatever you felt you all had questions.
Most of the boxing world felt Joe Cortez was the wrong referee for this bout because of the perception that he is a hometown judge in favor of the hometown fighter which happens to be Floyd Mayweather. Most observers remember all the elbows that were never called by Joe Cortez when Mayweather fought Ricky Hatton. Using your elbows is illegal by the way. Why is there a hometown referee in a fight this magnitude? Why was that allowed by the opposing camp?
Fast forward to the fourth round. When Ortiz decided to foul Mayweather with a blatant head butt, the crowd reacted in shock and disgust. What was he thinking? Joe Cortez appropriately called “Time” and grabbed Ortiz by the arm, which is customary right before a referee is going to deduct a point from a fighter. He signals every judge around the ring to dock Ortiz a point for the infraction. Cortez then tells Ortiz “don’t be doing that” and brings him to the center of the ring where Mayweather and Ortiz hug it out Entourage style and touch gloves. Here’s the tricky part, at that same moment Cortez claims he had called “time in”, which if you watch the footage he clearly did not. Instead he is looking over at the timekeeper and asks a question, if he called “time in” why is he looking away from the action? The fact is, he never officially resumed the action so if that’s the case, Mayweather’s punch was indeed illegal. The fighters are instructed to obey the referees commands at all times, when a referee breaks the action, they must obey and not resume the action until he tells you. The “protect yourself at all times” rule does not apply here. That rule is solely for the fighters safety. It’s more advise than a rule. The referee’s job is to enforce the rules moreover to protect the fighters. The infraction here was that Mayweather hit Ortiz twice before the actioned was officially resumed by the referee, and causing a knockout. In most cases when a fighter hits after the bell or strikes his opponent when he is already down or during a break and causes a knockout that fighter is disqualified. Why was this situation handled differently? Hometown judge syndrome?
As all this was unfolding the HBO commentators who have over a hundred years of experience between the three also failed to question the referee’s ruling. Why was that never brought up? Were they also caught up in the moment? There job is to provide color commentary yet when Jim Lampley asks Emmanuel Steward what he thinks about what just happened Steward replies, “I really can’t comment right now.” It seemed no one wanted to do their job that night. Fighters aren’t protecting themselves, referees are not calling infractions, and now commentators don’t want to comment. Most people thought it was a Twilight Zone type of night after witnessing all of this.
Max Kellerman is known to call shenanigans when he sees them, where was Max when you needed him?
After the initial shock had passed, the crowd began to get skeptical and consider the thought that there might be a conspiracy here. Is the potential of a mega fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather in danger if Ortiz pulls off the upset? Did the powers to be call in the fix? If so, was Ortiz’ and his camp involved? The resounding response from Ortiz fans was “Why is he smiling like he doesn’t care?” The Ortiz corner didn’t argue or dispute the referee’s decision either; which is very odd because before the fight started when Joe Cortez was in the Ortiz locker room to go over instructions, head trainer Danny Garcia, warned the hometown referee Joe Cortez to watch out for Mayweather’s elbows and fouls. If Danny Garcia made it a point to address Cortez about Mayweather’s dirty tactics then wouldn’t you see outrage in the Ortiz corner? Imagine that happening to one of Lou Duva’s fighters? Somebody should have been going berserk in that corner. Instead, the crowd in attendance and the pay per view audience saw Danny Garcia and Victor Ortiz smiling like they were victims to a prank, like Ashton Kutcher was about to pop out in a trucker hat laughing. They definitely did not act upset about losing their world title in the midst of controversy. If anyone should have been questioning the referee it most definitely should have been them.
Then came the post fight interview between Larry Merchant and Floyd Mayweather. If you didn’t get to see it, do yourself a favor and go to the home page and watch it. The instant classic line was born, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass!” Classic. Before that explosion though, Mayweather said he would give Ortiz a rematch. When have you ever heard Mayweather say that? Did his guilty conscience get the best of him? The only fighter to ever get a Mayweather rematch was Jose Luis Castillo after a controversial decision that had most spectators saying Castillo had gotten robbed. Mayweather didn’t have to give Castillo a rematch but he did so he should be commended for that. He also knew that victory would be clouded with doubt if he did not. He knows this fight with Ortiz will be followed by that same cloud. He doesn’t have to give Ortiz a rematch and most likely won’t with the Pacquiao fight looming but will he allow this doubt to hover over this victory forever? He wanted to prove to the world he did beat Castillo before, so he might do the same here if the Pacquiao fight doesn’t happen right away. Only Mayweather knows his next move.
There are many questions that need answering, but I doubt they will so all we can do is speculate.
The truth is it comes down to this; Joe Cortez did a poor job officiating, Mayweather took advantage of a moment, and Ortiz showed his inexperience. They all left with less credibility than when they arrived.