Debating Floyd Mayweather's Sucker Punch: Who's to Blame?

Mike WassersonContributor IISeptember 19, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 17:  Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates his fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz to win the WBC welterweight title September 17, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

If it’s any consolation for the embarrassing fiasco that boxing went through Saturday night, it’s that we’re still talking about it on Monday after a Sunday of NFL games.

What Floyd Mayweather did to Victor Ortiz in his 12-round bout for the WBC Welterweight title can be described in a variety of ways.

Pro-Mayweather supporters will say that it was a wily, old veteran taking advantage of the younger Ortiz making an elementary mistake. Boxers are always told to keep their hands up while engaging in combat, and they usually learn this around the same time they are taught to say “please” and “thank you” as children.

Anyone whose entire life revolves around boxing should know this.

The legality of the punch isn’t really up for debate. What Mayweather did wasn’t technically or legally wrong in the rulebook of boxing. However, Floyd managed to break the social taboo of never sucker-punching another man when he least expects it. Because of this, boxing has its biggest controversy since Mike Tyson bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear nearly 15 years ago.  

I felt embarrassed for Floyd primarily for two reasons. One of which being it was totally unnecessary on his part, considering he was simply dominating the first four rounds of the fight. He was easily on his way to at the worst, a unanimous 12-round victory.

The second reason I feel bad for him is because this now overshadows how good Floyd looked in the ring. For once, he was actually bringing the fight to his competitor and not playing his typical cat and mouse, chess-style defensive card.

Instead of admiring and praising Floyd on how good he looked at the age of 34 and coming off of a 16 month layoff, we are now here debating the merits of his integrity.

Personally, I had no problem with what Mayweather did. Was it a sucker punch? Absolutely. Was it bush league? Perhaps. But part of the reason why I don’t have a problem with it is because of the head-butt by Victor Ortiz which preceded the incident. You can make a case that the head-butt was just as dirty as or even worse than what Mayweather did.

Ortiz’s emotions obviously got the best of him when he had Mayweather trapped in the corner of the ring, yet couldn’t take advantage of the elusive and quick Mayweather. Floyd has made a career of making other fighters look like amateurs as they whiff and make contact with nothing but air. This situation was no different as Ortiz took his anger out by literally launching into Floyd head first, cutting his lower lip.

The rest was pretty much history after that.

Ortiz was overly apologetic, expressing sincere concern for Mayweather, hugging him and even kissing him on the cheek. All of which was done with his hands in a harmless, defenseless position which posed to be an obvious mistake in a matter of seconds later.

For how much you can go back and forth about who was in the wrong between Mayweather and Ortiz, the biggest culprit of them all may have been referee Joe Cortez. Cortez, an experienced referee, was caught off-guard like the rest of us were when Mayweather connected with his vicious two-punch combination which put Ortiz to sleep.

As a spectator, I’m not sure how Cortez didn’t separate both boxers, send them to each of their respective corners and then commence action. Definitely a big mistake on Cortez’s part, and I’m sure the boxing commission will acknowledge this as well.

I mentioned a couple days ago that boxing needs Floyd to win simply to keep the “Dream Fight” of him vs. Manny Pacquiao alive. He obviously did that, but not without controversy.

But hey, the more boxing is in the headlines, the better it is for the sport considering the tailspin it has been in for the better part of 10 years.

Even if it does involve the sport’s cover boy being accused of being an opportunistic sucker punch artist.