Saturday night’s fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Victor Ortiz wasn’t supposed to end like that.
Whether you were rooting for an Ortiz upset or looking for Mayweather to extend his undefeated streak, the controversial fourth-round knockout wasn’t the way it was supposed to go down.
Fight fans were supposed to come away from this fight either having seen Ortiz emerge as a legitimate superstar and the future of boxing or knowing that Mayweather, long questioned for his choice in opponents, truly is as great as he claims to be (or as close to that as is humanly possible).
Instead of answering questions about Ortiz’s star potential or Mayweather’s invincibility, the bout left fight fans unsatisfied and underwhelmed, spiraling into a debate on cheap shots, rules and Mayweather’s tirade against 80-year-old boxing analyst Larry Merchant.
Fans wanted to see a fight. What they got instead was a spectacle.
There’s no question Mayweather was in control in the earlier rounds, and many observers believed he was clearly en route to a victory. But Ortiz was holding his own. Of course, in boxing, a single well-landed punch by either fighter can change everything.
There’s no debate that Ortiz’s fourth-round head butt was deserving of the deduction referee Joe Cortez gave him. What happened after that is where everything went awry.
It’s hard to find fault with Ortiz apologizing to Mayweather – at least the first time. A hug and a kiss and another hug later, however, had the remorse bordering on overkill.
Moments later, as Cortez called for the round to restart, it was over. The two touched gloves and – with Cortez’s attention clearly elsewhere and Ortiz apparently unaware the fight had restarted – Mayweather landed a pair of punches that put Ortiz down for the count.
The arena – and the Twitterverse, for that matter – erupted.
Cortez, who bills himself as “firm, but fair,” called the knockout legal. And while most accept that decision, the consensus as to whether the punches were clean is a whole other debate.
Mayweather refused to fully address the situation afterward, explaining it wasn’t about discussing what either fighter did that was dirty. He simply evoked the boxing axiom, “Protect yourself at all times” – a saying that went viral after the fight.
Just as the Mayweather-Ortiz fight was unsettling, the debate to how it ended, or should have, ended will never be settled.
We learned some things about Ortiz. He’s good, but he’s definitely got some learning to do. There’s still a level of inexperience with him, although one would hope he makes some big leaps forward on that front following his defeat. At 24, he’s still on the upswing, and still has the potential to become a boxing star.
And the jury’s still out on Mayweather. If he was hoping a win over Ortiz would end the incessant questions about a fight with Manny Pacquiao (as if that were possible), this bout did nothing but stoke that discussion even further.
If Saturday’s bout did anything, it only made the shadow Pacquiao casts over Mayweather’s legacy even more obvious. While Ortiz called for a rematch and Mayweather seemed to indicate he’d give him one, the momentum and enthusiasm has been deflated.
That’s not the kind of resolution boxing fans wanted.
Maria Burns Ortiz is a freelance sports journalist, chair of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Sports Task Force, and a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow her on Twitter: @BurnsOrtiz