Everyone in the ring is to blame for tonight's newest "black eye for boxing." (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Tonight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, we saw...well, we saw something. Something we won't ever forget. Not for good reasons. It was "something you won't forget" like Mike Tyson biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear.
If you missed our recap, in the fourth round of an interesting main event that saw Floyd Mayweather Jr physically tested by a 164-pound Victor Ortiz. He was winning the fight, Floyd was, but Ortiz was building confidence. He wasn't crumbling, even after a one-sided third round in favor of Mayweather.
With Ortiz charging hard in the fourth round, he pinned Mayweather on the ropes, threw his hands, and then, inexplicably, threw a moronic, clearly intentional, ill-advised headbutt that would make EA Sports say, "Nah, that's not very realistic. Who would do that?"
The sweet science, they call the sport of professional boxing. And, indeed, we saw some of it on display tonight. Mayweather was masterful, as always, in employing his straight right hand and his slippery, near-impenetrable defense.
But the fight devolved into a fight. A street fight. That happened when Ortiz, in a moment of hot-headed stupidity, violently headbutted Mayweather. He attempted to apologize, and Mayweather was responding -- sort of. He had a look of anger.
"Alright," Mayweather appeared to be thinking, "if you want it like that, let's do it like that."
He may have intended to further use his elbows (he had been doing it), may have resolved in his head to step on the gas and embarrass the 24-year-old titleholder, who was thought to be overmatched by the vast majority. But instead, he got an opening when referee Joe Cortez brought the fighters back together.
And he sucker punched Ortiz with a left hook and a right hand, flattening the unprepared "Vicious" Victor and ending the fight via incredibly controversial fourth round knockout.
Who's to blame here?
Well, everyone, really.
Ortiz is to blame for so blatantly and disgustingly fouling Mayweather. If Cortez had made a knee-jerk reaction to disqualify Ortiz on the spot, it would have been criticized and debated, but not entirely undeserved.
Cortez is to blame for not taking full control of the fighters. He should have kept them separate until he had truly restarted the action. Instead, his eyes were locked ringside on another official.
Mayweather is to blame for a low-class decision to knock Ortiz's head off when his opponent was clearly unprepared. He can say, "Protect yourself at all times" all he wants to, but as wrong as everyone else was, so was Floyd.
And Cortez is to blame, again, for actually counting.
One thing to note is that questionable (at best) Hall of Fame recognition or not, Cortez is clearly past his prime as a referee and should not be working fights anymore, let alone huge events like this one. He makes mistakes all the time, and this was a big one. He couldn't do much about Floyd going after Ortiz there, but he shouldn't have counted. He had a hard decision to make, quickly, and he made the wrong one. Would Kenny Bayless or Tony Weeks have made the call that way? I don't know. It was something that happened fast, and something that doesn't happen often. But I think old Joe got it wrong.
One thing I do know for sure right now, and believe me, this is not the end of my talking about this fight. This rematch is going to sell huge. Expect Cinco de Mayo weekend in 2012, and expect a huge promotion.
You might say right now that you won't buy it, but a lot of people will. Would they have bought Holyfield vs Tyson III if it were made in a timely fashion? Of course they would have. It would have done major business.
But for true blue, diehard boxing fans, we're faced again with the reality that this sport has serious problems, and that at times, it can't be truly compared to other sports, where organization, order, and a sense of justice tend to win out in the end.
This is boxing. And this shit happens. Not this, exactly, but bad things happen all the time. Incompetent judging. Corruption. Despicable sanctioning bodies. Fighters not getting their due. Fighters getting too much. Chunks of ears missing.
And now this.
Boxing is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as this fight.