No fighter has ever turned sympathy into disdain the way Floyd Mayweather Jr. did Saturday night in Las Vegas, accomplishing the feat not once but twice in his knockout victory against Victor Ortiz. One of the greatest boxers of all time, Mayweather provided new reasons that demonstrate why he’s also one of the most despised.
After three intentional head butts from Ortiz, the last one particularly vicious, Mayweather landed a pair of devastating blows as action resumed. The punches generally were described as within the rules — and the referee said that Mayweather did nothing wrong — but many observers considered them cheap shots. If there’s any such thing as a legal sucker punch in boxing, Mayweather delivered two of the best you’ll ever see.
That alone was enough to make him a villain Saturday, even though Ortiz's actions were clearly dirty, as opposed to maybe dirty. However, the boos that showered on Mayweather at the MGM Grand weren't just about the blows that knocked Ortiz on his butt.
They were about Mayweather's general lack of class en route to winning seven world titles in five weight classes. They were about his flashy, "make it rain" style and bitter trash talking. They were about the disrespect he's shown his father over the years, including a televised argument on HBO’s 24/7. And they were about the multi-felony domestic-violence case in which the mother of his three children and some of the children are alleged victims.
But Mayweather didn't stop with the controversial finish. His post-fight interview with 80-year-old Larry Merchant drew as much derision as the bout itself.
Merchant, a terrible broadcaster who for reasons unknown remains on HBO's payroll, spent nearly two minutes questioning Mayweather's actions, using the same irritating, halting style that we've come to know and hate. Finally, Mayweather had enough and flipped, as the street in him overtook any hint of the professional (see it at the 2:20 mark in the video above).
“You never give me a fair shake,” Mayweather said, raising his voice and popping his neck. "HBO needs to fire you! You don’t know s—- about boxing! You ain't s—-! You not s—-!"
The sentiment might be true and enjoy widespread agreement. But cussing out an old man on national TV isn't championlike behavior.
All Mayweather did was give his critics more ammunition — for the second time that evening.
In other news: Sharpton to Mourners: 'Stop the Shooting.'