The "bro hug" is like a virus infecting mixed martial arts. You know the bro hug. It's a product of the times - softer, friendlier, more tolerant. In the midst of combat, two men aren't afraid to come together in the middle of the cage and awkwardly embrace. Some might call it progress. I call it an abomination.
Boxer Victor Ortiz tried to popularize the bro hug in boxing last night, hugging Floyd Mayweather immediately after a blatantly illegal headbutt, then trying to revisit the hug moments later as referee Joe Cortez stood around looking like he'd lost his car keys. The second time, Floyd struck a blow for fighters everywhere, rejecting the hug and treating a fight like a fight, not like a frisbee golf game. Mayweather popped Ortiz twice, right in the jaw, putting an end to the hugging and the fight.
Mayweather was on another level tonight. There has never been a bigger villain in boxing. From insisting he come out to the ring last (usually that's the champion's prerogative) until the transcendent post fight interview, he was in rare form. He even got into it with Larry Merchant, HBO's acerbic announcer. Merchant is no Mayweather fan and he asked Floyd the tough questions. Mayweather sent him packing, saying he couldn't get a fair break and almost getting physical with the older man. "If I was 50 years younger I'd kick your ass," Merchant exclaimed. It was a fitting end to an amazing night for Mayweather.
Only Floyd could have left the MGM Grand as the bad guy. Mayweather actually outclassed Ortiz, who was frustrated enough to attempt one of the most egregious headbutts I can remember. Mayweather could have taken the high road and come out of the situation wearing the white hat. But that's not Floyd Mayweather's way. Instead, he tested the time honored boxing tradition requiring both men to protect themselves at all times. Mayweather was fighting. Ortiz was hugging. That was the difference.