LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. won the fight with a questionable — if legal — pair of punches that Victor Ortiz never saw coming. He followed it by berating an 80-year-old announcer in the ring and demanding he be fired.
Later on he would insinuate that the only way Manny Pacquiao keeps winning is that he’s juiced.
All in a night’s work for boxing’s bad boy, and a profitable one at that. Probably not as profitable as Mayweather claims, but a huge payday without doubt.
He sells because people buy pay-per-views to either cheer him on or yell at the big screen in hopes he will lose. On Saturday night he won for the 42nd straight time, and he wasn’t about to offer up apologies for how it was done.
“Once we touch gloves it’s fight time,” Mayweather said. “It’s open season.”
Mayweather came back from a 16-month layoff to stop a fighter 10 years younger than him, which by itself wasn’t much of a surprise. He was a 5-1 favorite to use his speed and experience against an opponent who was in a megafight for the first time.
The way he did it, though, was the story of the night at the MGM Grand hotel arena.
Those who love Mayweather will say he exploited a mistake by the relatively inexperienced Ortiz. Those who hate him will claim he’s a dirty fighter who hit Ortiz when he wasn’t expecting it.
Mayweather himself didn’t really seem to care either way.
“Eventually he was going to get knocked out anyway,” Mayweather said. “What comes around goes around. Things happen in this sport. It’s protect yourself at all times.”
If Mayweather needed an excuse, it may have been because he was mad. A few moments earlier Ortiz deliberately head butted him in the corner, a move that cost Ortiz a point on the judges’ scorecards.
He apologized to Mayweather, even giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Another brief hug followed in the center of the ring as the referee seemed to indicate that the two fighters continue.
While Ortiz looked off to the side, his hands down, Mayweather hit him with a left hook and a right that put him on the canvas. Ortiz struggled to get up before referee Joe Cortez counted him out at 2:59 of the fourth round.
“I was looking at Joe and he said ‘break’ or something and I’m like, huh?” Ortiz said. “Whatever. Bottom line is I had fun. It was fun.”
If Ortiz was upbeat for a fighter who was stopped early in his biggest fight, he had reason to be. He made $2.5 million, sustained no serious injuries, and did nothing to damage his reputation as a fighter who either drops the guy across the ring from him or is dropped himself.
Not beating Mayweather won’t derail his career. After all, 41 fighters before him over the past 16 years have failed to do the same thing.
“I made some mistakes tonight and I apologized to the public for it,” Ortiz said. “But I definitely want a rematch.”
That’s not likely, if only because it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense. And Mayweather, who was guaranteed $25 million, didn’t earn his nickname of “Money” without always thinking about the bottom line.
That may be a reason the Pacquiao fight never gets made. No reason for Mayweather to risk his unbeaten record for a big payday when his paydays are already plenty big.
“I don’t need Pacquiao,” Mayweather said after the fight. “Every time Floyd Mayweather goes out there he’s going to make $70 million, period.”
If Mayweather deserves criticism it’s probably not for the two punches that ended the fight prematurely. He won the first three rounds anyway and appeared well on his way to dominating Ortiz, and he certainly wasn’t happy about being head butted intentionally just before the sudden knockout.
But he didn’t need to berate HBO’s Larry Merchant in the post-fight interview in the ring, which the 80-year-old responded to by saying he would beat up Mayweather himself if he was 50 years younger. And he didn’t need to press his claim that Pacquiao uses steroids when there is no evidence to indicate Pacquiao does anything other than train well and fight even better.
That’s the world of Money May, though, where reality sometimes mirrors what happens in the HBO “24/7” reality series that sparked Mayweather’s lucrative pay-per-view career. The 34-year-old does things on his own terms. While he has gotten in trouble outside the ring because of that, he reigns unbeaten in the place where he is most comfortable.
“Once you get me in the square circle, that’s my home,” Mayweather said.
There’s still an outside chance Mayweather and Pacquiao will fight next May, assuming Pacquiao beats Juan Manuel Marquez in November. Pacquiao’s camp has already said he will agree to Mayweather’s demand for unlimited drug testing, though Mayweather still doesn’t seem terribly interested in fighting Pacquiao.
“All Pacquiao is doing is fighting my leftovers. That boy doesn’t want to fight,” Mayweather said. “Doesn’t matter. Whoever you put in front of me, they can’t beat me. They can’t beat me.” — (AP)
Tim Dahlberg can be reached at http://twitter.com/timdahlberg.