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Counter Punch

Ortiz embarrasses self with conference call

Victor Ortiz is taking aim at a rematch with Floyd Mayweather when he should be eyeing a return bout with Andre Berto. (Barry Sweet/ZUMAPRESS.com)

When a fighter loses in a controversial manner, some sour grapes are to be expected. When those gripes are delivered at a post-fight press conference they are, to most, understandable. When they are delivered via conference call more than a week later they are, to everyone, embarrassing.

On Monday, Victor Ortiz -- along with his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya and manager, Rolando Arellano -- held a call to discuss his Sept. 17 knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather. And it didn’t take long for the call to spin out of control.

Some of the (low)lights:

• Ortiz claimed that his head butt of Mayweather -- as overt, unsportsmanlike and illegal a shot as you will see in boxing -- was prompted by Mayweather’s incessant elbowing, something Ortiz says he had repeatedly warned referee Joe Cortez about before the fight. “He released the elbow on me,” said Ortiz. “I released the head butt.”

• De La Hoya, whose feuding with Mayweather has escalated in recent months, claimed that none of his past opponents would have delivered the kind of cheap shots that Mayweather knocked Ortiz out with. “Not even a [Ricardo] Mayorga would have done that,” De La Hoya said. “Not even a Fernando Vargas. That’s a new technique that must be taught in boxing.”

• Despite losing eight of the nine rounds scored by the three judges -- and being shut out on many ringside media cards as well -- Ortiz claimed he was in control of the fight. “I was dictating,” Ortiz said.

• Ortiz trashed Mayweather’s power (“like getting slapped by a girl”) and claimed Mayweather needed to give him a rematch to prove he was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. “Floyd is not respected, never will be in my eyes as a pound-for-pound fighter,” Ortiz said. “He feared that I was coming round after round. His punches were not fazing me, weren’t weakening me. Mine were. People like Floyd give boxing a bad name.”

• De La Hoya trashed referee Joe Cortez, claiming Cortez missed too many of Mayweather’s elbows and should have properly separated the two fighters after deducting a point from Ortiz for the head butt. “He’s refereed a lot of great fights and he’s one of the best refs out there but he must have had an off night,” De La Hoya said. “Ortiz’s camp was warning Cortez about the elbows. We saw at least 10-15 elbows coming from Floyd. There are pictures of Floyd’s elbow in Ortiz’s face. He must have had an off night. I know for a fact that Joe Cortez is much better than that. You take control of the fight. You tell each fighter, ‘Let’s fight clean.’ You put each fighter in a neutral corner and you say, 'Let’s fight.' He had no control of the fight.”

• Ortiz went one step further and insinuated that Mayweather and Cortez were friends, which is why Cortez was chosen to referee the fight.

There’s more, but it’s gibberish, nonsensical and utterly irrelevant. Ortiz didn’t do himself any favors with this conference call. Check Twitter. It’s carnage. You have to wonder who did think it was a good idea. Industry sources I talked to think it was Arrelano, whose client -- who actually fights for Golden Boy -- has been taking a backseat to Mayweather, who essentially rents the company out to do promotion for big fights. Arrelano was palpably upset throughout the call and was the most vocal of the bunch.

The bottom line is this: Ortiz was not getting a rematch before and he’s not getting one now. Regardless of what you thought of Mayweather’s knockout shots -- I considered them a little unsportsmanlike, but perfectly legal -- Mayweather was in complete control of the fight before he brought it to an abrupt end. His right hand was routinely finding Ortiz’s head while he successfully avoided many, if not most of Ortiz’s heavy shots when he was backed up.

You won’t find many fighters not on Golden Boy’s payroll who think the final shots were out of line, either. Ortiz apologized. Then apologized again. He apologized a third time -- after Cortez can audibly be heard saying, “Let’s go” -- and was dropped for not obeying boxing’s oldest axiom: protect yourself at all times. I thought Nevada state athletic commissioner Keith Kizer summed it up best: How many times did Ortiz want to hug him?

It’s ridiculous to suggest that Mayweather needs Ortiz for anything now, except for perhaps a sparring partner. Like Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley before him, Ortiz talked the talk but ultimately couldn’t walk the walk. Mayweather needs to move on to Manny Pacquiao while Ortiz simply needs to move on.

There’s a way for Ortiz to get another crack at Mayweather, though his team doesn’t seem too inclined to explore it: Win. There are big, marketable fights out there for Ortiz, starting with a rematch with Andre Berto, the newly crowned IBF titleholder who fought two weeks before Ortiz did. That’s a fight that can be made in March. Then there is Amir Khan, the uber-popular Brit who will be moving up to 147 pounds next year and shares the same promoter. That’s a fight that could potentially be made in the fall.

If Ortiz beats Berto and Khan, he will be difficult for Mayweather -- or Pacquiao, for that matter -- to ignore. He can get the rematch he wanted and he will have done it the right way, by earning it. He will be a better, more popular fighter the next time, one much more prepared to face a talent like Mayweather on the brightest possible stage.

These are the things Ortiz should be focused on. Save the whining for something that matters and an audience that actually cares. Floyd Mayweather isn’t going to offer a rematch, and no one wants him to. Ortiz didn’t fall to the bottom of the ladder with the loss but he does need to work his way up.

-- Chris Mannix

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