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Was Victor Ortiz looking for a way out?
Only Victor Oritz knows what he was thinking in the seconds before he was knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the fourth round of Saturday's WBC welterweight title fight in Las Vegas.
Perhaps he will share it with us some day.
Let's recap what happened.
In the estimation of this corner, Ortiz was pressuring Mayweather like few fighters have ever pressured him. He was not winning the fight, but he was very much in the fight. Mayweather was scoring sharply over the first three rounds but it was not a prototypical dominant Mayweather performance. There were a few moments when Floyd looked uncomfortable, looked tired of this boxing game.
Then Ortiz intentionally head butted Mayweather. Again, speaking solely from the perspective of this corner, that looked like a good thing. Here's why. Many years ago, during the heyday of Mike Tyson, hall-of-fame trainer George Benton said that the man who beats Tyson will be the man who, when Tyson hits him low, responds by hitting Tyson low twice. When Tyson hits him after the bell, he picks up the stool and throws it at Tyson.
Benton's point was, the guy who beats Tyson will not be intimidated.
Ortiz was not intimidated. The 24-year-old lion was pressuring Mayweather and fighting hard. The intentional head butt looked like a clear message to the 34-year-old Mayweather. Ortiz was saying, 'your time is over and I am here to fight you until the very end.
Then, after the head butt, he stopped. He hugged Mayweather and apologized, profusely. He even kissed him on the cheek.
When the men came together at the center of the ring, Ortiz still had his hands down and was looking at referee Joe Cortez.
Mayweather threw a left.
Ortiz pulled back, still kept his hands down and continued to look at Cortez. Then Mayweather delivered the knockout punch.
Was it legal? We'll let the referee and Nevada commission sort that out. Was it sporting, no. But let's not forget, Mayweather had just been intentionally head butted. His lip was bleeding. He was on fire.
Ortiz looked like a man who was done fighting. Even after the knockout, he was smiling. He hugged Mayweather. He looked happy. This was not a man who looked like the biggest fight of his career had just been taken from him. He looked relieved.
After the head butt, Mayweather was ready to rumble, Ortiz was not.
So what was the real message?
It would not be the first time someone committed a foul to get out of a fight. It is widely believed that Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ears, not once, but twice, so he would be disqualified. Tyson no longer wanted to accept Holyfield's punches, so he got himself disqualified.
Is it possible that Ortiz was looking for a DQ after the head butt?
Only he knows the answer.