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The Final Word on “Star Power”

Photo Parody: Floyd Mayweather vs Larry Merchant
Graphic Art Parody © Jonathan Wilson
There’s no doubt that the dubious ending between Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz has been the buzz of the sports world the past few days. Everyone in boxing has had their say on what took place this past weekend at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But before turning the page and looking forward, I think it’s important to hear perhaps the most important- and often times overlooked- constituency in this equation- the fans. The ones whose continued blind faith in the sport is too many times stretched to the limit. What the fans say and believe is paramount. Without them, there is no boxing business.

Like many others who cover this three-ring circus, I received a plethora of emails related to this fight. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say...

"hey steve, nice article on floyd, i think you summed it up well and i agreed with you.  keep up the good work!
--the boxing malcontent
ps i’m actually one of the people who promised to no longer order any floyd fights since the whole tj tornado $8 mill fiasco and i’ve stuck with it.  floyd often brags that love him or hate him, there are no refunds.  but i think he forgets to mention the other part of the equation.  those who love boxing, don’t tolerate his antics, and refuse to give him a red cent because he’s such a dispicable public figure.  i know i’m in the minority, and i’m sure he doesn’t give a sh*t, just sayin."

Here’s the thing; while I admire your discipline and sticking to the courage of your convictions, many others can’t. They are like “Pookie” Robinson in “New Jack City.” Eventually, they return to hitting the crack pipe. It’s that very emotion that Floyd elicits in a lot of folks (which are two extremes, either love or hate) that make him the draw that he is. In many ways, it is genius. In other ways, it speaks perhaps to the dumbing down or coarseness of our society.

I’m just wondering though, if that bout with Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao comes to fruition, will you fork over your $80 bucks? (Yeah, 80…because you know that’s what they’re going to charge for that event on pay-per-view) I’ve heard a lot of fans tell me that till he faces the “Pac-Man,” they will not order another one of Mayweather’s bouts. However, I don’t hear as much going the other way, which I find to be odd since I think in this instance, it’s taking two NOT to tango.
"Great read you and Carlos Acevedo always make me bust up with your articles.
I don’t always agree but you are honest, smart, and pretty fair.
My friends and I were checking out the clip on you tube and what you missed is that Floyd actually hugs Ortiz while he has his hands down so he can’t get them up. He gives him a bit of a shove and then unloads. We couldn’t stop laughing at May’s move and Cortez’s lost in the headlights open mouth stare of what the f just happened. He never called for the action to resume so he almost sh**ted his pants and decided to follow the scorers table count….

Keep up the good work!" 

OK, I shouldn’t be given too much credit. I mean, predicting a Joe Cortez foible nowadays is like prognosticating more job losses in the U.S. economy. It’s sad and depressing yet expected but I do want to point out while I think Cortez’s mechanics regarding handling the “time-in” were very shaky, there were three people in that ring at that moment. One of them needed to pay attention to Mayweather and his actions more than “Mr. Firm and Fair.” Guess who that would be?

@publicola05 on Twitter described it best as another “Cortezstrophe.” I’m just upset that I didn’t think of that myself.


Hey Steve,
Great column!
When I saw Mayweather’s sucker punch, I was reminded of Hector Camacho vs Greg Haugen. If you recall before the 12th round, the ref attempts to get them to touch gloves (I don’t recall this being a rule, rather more a tradition) and Camacho sticks out his glove and when Haugen goes to touch, he throws a three punch combo.
Nothing illegal about the punch...but the ref took a point.
Anyway I agree with your point that there were no good guys Saturday night, but Floyd’s behavior in the fight and after left a much more sour taste than Ortiz’. And Joe Cortez needs to retire.
This is another confirmation to me that Floyd is more Camacho (pre-Rosario of course) than Whitaker. Whether it’s an act or not, he lacks sportsmanship and class. While Mayweather has loads more talent, I suspect he has a similar disinclination to combat. If he keeps fighting, he’s bound to run into a fight without the physical advantages he currently enjoys.
I suspect we will see him run away (Camacho vs Chavez) rather than take anything resembling a beating (Whitaker vs Trinidad)...but I could be wrong.

Gregory L."

Gregory, you give a really interesting historical perspective there as it relates to the “Macho Man” comparison (Hector Camacho, not Randy Savage). I do remember that in the rematch with Jose Luis Castillo back in 2002 (who I thought beat Mayweather in their initial match-up earlier that year), he completely disengaged and stunk it out in the return bout. From that point on, for years, Mayweather seemed to take the path of least resistance.

I know others have always pointed to those fights against Castillo as a turning point in his career. Up until then, nobody could question Mayweather’s consistent level of competition or the entertainment value he brought to his fights. It was at that point when he became more and more about business, which is certainly his prerogative and to his benefit but that didn’t mean everyone else had to be on board.


"Steve....There was no question of the "legality" of the the knockout punch that Floyd delivered.  However, in that moment he did make a conscious choice to deliver a knockout punch on a guy with his hands at his side looking at the referee.  It was a cowardly move, a sucker punch.  He didn’t need to do it, he could have and would most likely won the fight fair and square with out those 2 punches.  There has been due focus on the "legality" of the punch, however it shouldn’t obscure the fact it was a cowardly, classless move that if someone wants to be called the greates of all time, they sure shouldn’t and wouldn’t engage in that kind of nonsense.  Can you envision Robinson, Ali, Duran, among other greats delivering that punch and being so pleased with that outcome?
HG in SC"

Howard, I won’t argue that point about the all-time great fighters you listed, although Duran did win his first world title by landing a low-blow on Ken Buchanan, if I’m not mistaken. But as I said before, none of this mayhem and madness takes place if Ortiz didn’t go all James Harrison or Dunta Robinson on Mayweather. That was about as blatant a foul as I’ve seen in a big-time fight.

Y’ know, the more I think about it, the more I equate this to Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear (which I’m told Teddy Atlas agrees with). This was a guy who believed that the fight was about to get out of hand and was desperate to look for a way out. Yeah, it might seemed farfetched and a bit Oliver Stone-ish but do guys who really believe they can win conduct themselves in this manner? How about guys who are real pros? I could never imagine a Glen Johnson or the like ever doing this kind of thing.

And the way Ortiz was smiling and laughing about the whole sordid affair afterward was also a bit troubling to me. I really think all the goodwill he earned back after his big victory over Andre Berto in April went right down the drain with a large majority of fans.


"First off, what a travesty of an ending. 60bucks to watch someone win on a quick break knockout is not what the hardcore fan, and especially, a casual fan wants to tune in for. Boxing is already on the ropes in terms of gaining new fans on mega events like this, and for Floyd to be so afraid to lose that he has to cold cock someone during a break when the opponent clearly is not in a fighting stance, is straight bitch made. 

Ortiz is wrong for launching like Apollo 13 into floyds dome. I agree. And although some say ortiz had the knockout coming or deserved it. I say you are an idiot. Floyd, foul him back, headbutt him back, punch him in the nuts, hit him behind the head on accident. But don’t END a prize fight on a blindsided cold cocking of someone. That reminds me of the guy who goes out and gets drunk in a nightclub and knocks out another patron who isn’t looking and boasts "I knocked that dude out!!!"
Ok, ya, you knocked the guy out, but what if he had a clean shot on your chin and you weren’t looking? My conclusion on this is that Floyd is so scared to lose, he takes every opportunity to make sure he wins, even if it’s not admirable. 

Anyway....will merchant get fired? Floyd seems like he continuously has these temper tantrums with anyone who doesnt agree with him. Max kellerman (post fight interview), his dad, valet folks, skating rink bandits, ex girlfriends, etc...  I wonder how the jury will look at his domestic dispute now, considering he was somewhat threatening a senior citizen on national ppv. I know this typically can’t be used as evidence, however, it’s hard to believe he’s not capable of these accusations behind closed doors...

Bobby A"

As bad as Mayweather looked in his post-fight interview with Larry, I would hope that this incident has no influence on his real-life legal drama. Honestly, I don’t think Floyd was having any fears or concerns of losing on this particular night. He seemed to be in control of the fight (in fact, he was the aggressor for large stretches) and he was showing no real signs of physical slippage or ring rust. In fact, by doing what he did, he may have actually done himself a bit of a disservice because he deprived himself of perhaps scoring a memorable stoppage or displaying his boxing mastery. Instead, in victory, Mayweather stained himself to a multitude of observers.

On the flipside, would this fight be talked about nearly as much by the general populace if it had gone its natural course? And was this added scrutiny worth it?

And no, Merchant’s job is not in any jeopardy.

"wouldn’t it have been something similar to RJJ Griffin? Not a perfectly analogy, but the effect would be the same: not the way we want to see that guy get his first loss. 

I would have laughed my ass off, possibly for hours on end. But after a while I’d realize its a sh**ty way for it to happen. 

Dennis P"

While there are many who would have rejoiced over Floyd getting any type of comeuppance, Dennis, I agree. In my view, Roy Jones didn’t really suffer his first loss till he got stopped by Antonio Tarver in 2004 but with the type of emotion that Mayweather engenders, I’m absolutely sure that some STILL wouldn’t care how he suffered his first defeat.


"Gotta say, I laughed my ass off too when Money KO’d Victor while he was trying to hug it out in the middle of a fight for the third of fourth time. Man vs boy. Man wins.

While that was my reaction, the friends I was watching the bout with were outraged more at Joe Cortez for losing control of the fight completely. Looking at the replays from the leaping head butt onward, he turned his back and let the fighters re-engage more than once and never took complete control of the situation. 

(speaking of replays, we also watched previous breaks, and listened to Cortez’ verbiage for letting combat resume. He repeatedly says, "let’s go" which is exactly what he said when Victor started his last, fateful hug fest. no miscommunication whatsoever.)

Cortez didn’t cost Victor the fight but he proved your call from last week true. Kizer is right that Mayweather’s cheap shots were totally legal, but he needs to review tape and ask himself if Cortez can really manage a fight anymore. 

Grandpa Joe needs to step down before something bad (or worse) happens. Big time wrestling is the only place for refs who turn their back on the action while fouls or potential fouls occur.

Nice guys finish last, especially in boxing. Victor Ortiz’ hard scrabbled background has the opposite effect most people think. Instead of making him fight that much harder to hold on to what he’s worked so hard to achieve, he acts like he’s already surpassed his dreams and goals, and is just happy to be here.

How can he have fought and bled for that strap against Berto and then be all smiles after losing it under such circumstances, any circumstances??

To be great you’ve got to want it more than anything. Victor is way too happy to get his checks, get on TV and lose. He was embarrassing again in the post-fight.  

Biggest winner? 

Larry Merchant, hands down. The unflappable one. 

That look he threw to the camera when Money started going off was priceless. And then he walked Floyd down and dropped his 50 years younger blast. 

Go Larry!


I’ll say this again; for any mega-fight in Nevada, Kenny Bayless needs to be the referee, bottom line, end of story. It’s that simple. 


"Yeah, I think this is why so many have started following UFC.  Boxing PPV’s constantly ending in disappointment for paying fans.  All 3 of those guys in the ring last night should be required to give half our paying money back.

This was a total let down.  I’m a HUGE boxing fan, but every time this happens over and over and over again.  What happened Saturday Night was the equivalent of Netflix raising fees and charges and losing 100’s of thousands of subscribers.  Thank you boxing for once again committing suicide on the big stage.

Just my 2 cents.

Good luck with your website!

S M"

Thanks Dana…er, I mean, “S M”, but seriously, let’s get off this whole mantra that singular events really damage the sport of boxing. I heard similar cries after the infamous “Bite Fight” and the first bout between Holyfield and Lennox Lewis how boxing was heading toward its last dying days. Here’s the thing (and maybe I’m in the minority); I thought overall that “Star Power,” top to bottom, was a very good card. It had a very nice undercard and, yeah, while the main event may have had an unsatisfactory conclusion to many, me, I look at it as a rather memorable occurrence that you won’t ever forget. Seriously, I found this to be much more entertaining than Mayweather’s snooze-fest against Carlos Baldomir, which had folks leaving the arena in the late rounds.

Mr. Merchant likes to say that boxing is the theater of the unexpected. I believe it’s the theater of the absurd. While I admit I might be a bit misguided in this but it’s part of the fun in covering this sport.

That said, I admit if I had pay to watch all the fights, I’d probably have a different perspective on this.

As for Netflix, yeah, no argument there.

"Been a proud maxboxing member for over 5 years.  Love the show.  Never wrote once – but in this case I am compelled to.  This was a complete travesty and waste of my money.  I paid $70 bucks to see
(1)    The Ortiz that defeated berto (against anybody)
(2)    A good scrap between canelo and gomez
Never paid to see Mayweather.  My message I wish to convey: I will never watch Ortiz again. 
Called Comcast and asked for my money back – they said call HBO

And what did Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo tell you?
"Hi Steve,
Thought maybe you’d be interested on seeing how non-boxing fans perceived the night.
I watched the fight with about 14 of my friends, most are not boxing fans, but I sweetened the pot by frying some wings, lumpia, and twinkies and snickers bars.  I was glad to have company for once to offset my PPV bills (Comcast charged $65 for HD in Chicago).  Everyone really began to pay attention to the fights when Morales scored the win because of the  extreme close up on his opponents deep, deep cut (nothing grabs ones attention like blood!).  The girls then swooned over their first glimpse of Canelo, while the guys ripped on his robe’s shoulder pads (yeah we are haters)…  Funny hearing Spanish out of the guy.  Most people did not think the Gomez stoppage was out of bounds (MMA has people used to that type of stoppage).  I personally feel Gomez could have recovered if he had the presence to take a knee, the ref was looking to put a “W” under Canelos belt and had a good opportunity.  The night was going well.
Then the end of the Floyd/Victor fight…  I personally feel everyone was at fault, but more interesting were the reactions of my non boxing friends.  Floyds punches were universally seen as Cheap shots, I tried to give the “protect yourself at all times” argument, but it didn’t fly.  I guess people who watch stick and ball sports really still buy into sportsmanship.  Victor was subject to even more ire, the headbutt was the least of his mistakes, the majority of the crowd thought he was way, way too calm and happy about getting knocked out.  I think at least 80% of the people tried arguing with me that the fight was fixed because he was so happy.  I tried to defend the sport, but I think boxing has that sort of perception.  Cortez was the main focus of criticism though, we used the DVR to replay the last few moments to try to pick out Cortez telling the fighters to resume fighting (or “Time In” as most of my guests referred to it).  In the age of instant replay, people are sticklers for the rules.  We couldn’t pinpoint the time when instance when Cortez  called time in, so most everybody thought knockdown was a foul and didn’t count.  I felt robbed of a good fight that was just starting to get interesting, everyone else felt like it was fixed or at best the result was not “clean”.
The highlight of the night was Merchant.  He got a universal roar of approval, he should run for office.
I have a hard time defending the sport I love to people who are generally suspicious of it.  Saturday night didn’t help.  I don’t think I will have much company splitting further PPVs. 
Unless I fry some twinkies.
Jonathan from Chicago"

You fry Twinkies?
[Editor’s Note: Yes. Yes, we do. And Snickers. And dill pickles.]

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