The HBO PPV main event fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Victor Ortiz ended in such an unexpected, unusual and controversial fashion that it was somewhat hard to form coherent thoughts in the hours after the broadcast. After a week of talking about the fight and a night of excitement, to see such an odd turn first left me with many emotional reactions and then left me emotionally drained.
Here, in the morning after the event, it's time to unpack the night's action point by point.
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We covered last night that the knockout blows by Mayweather were legal. But many fans are still upset in that it was a cheap shot and not good sportsmanship by Floyd. While that's true, exactly how many times did Victor need to hug, kiss and say he was sorry? He did it once, Floyd was upset but acknowledged the first handful of apologies. Yeah, it was a cheap shot, but it was legal and Floyd wasn't there to spend the next eight rounds hugging.
Regardless of if referee Joe Cortez had technically restarted the bout or not he wasn't clear about it. He also spent far too long "in the middle" with his actions at the end. He somewhat restarted them, but still was touching Ortiz's arm right before the KO and spent time looking at ringside officials instead of focusing on the action. Cortez looks increasingly lost in the ring and seemingly can't get through a major assignment without his actions being a part of the story.
Victor Ortiz could have fought like he had up to the point of his ill-advised headbutt, lost (and he likely would have lost) and had plenty to hold his head up about. He fought well against a great fighter and I think it's clear that he's the best welterweight in the world not named Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Instead, we're left unsure just what Ortiz had last night. Could he have kept up his attack? Would he have gotten to Floyd? We'll never know, even if there is a rematch, what Victor was capable of last night.
Boxing got a big reminder last night on the value of a strong undercard. A solid opener between Jessie Vargas and Josesito Lopez set the table for a fun night of undercard bouts. Vargas and Lopez didn't back down from each other at any point, each man doing enough to force the judges to render a completely legitimate split decision for Vargas.
Erik Morales did the thing Erik Morales does and had an exciting battle with Pablo Cesar Cano. It was more that Morales is too old to handle guys like Cano in the way he normally would than anything, but it made for a fun scrap and a nice moment as Morales got another title belt. He's too much of a legend and warrior for me to get hung up on the "trinket nature" of alphabet titles and I find myself simply happy for him.
Alfonso Gomez showed up and wasn't content to simply play opponent for Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Instead he put on a very deliberate, well scouted performance against the young star. Alvarez was clearly taken out of his comfort zone, being forced backward far too often before finally deciding he had had enough and opening up his power shots to get the stoppage win.
Boxing has created an atmosphere for pay-per-views where many people purchasing the events feel free to skip the undercard. It's usually a few promoter darlings being given a nice payday in a fight against a stiff. Last night they were able to simply put compatible fighters together and let the action unfold. And guess what? The promotional darlings (Vargas, Alvarez and Morales) still picked up wins, but did so in a way that actually made them earn it and probably raised their stock. I have no doubt we'll see promoters stick to what they've done for years and won't see a return to the stacked undercards Don King used to give the world, but if there's one lesson boxing can learn from last night (and from the UFC) it's that there is value in good undercard fights.