Friday September 23rd, 2011

Quiet weekend in boxing but a lot of questions coming out of last weekend's superfight. Let's get to them.

Chris, I agree with you that the one-two punch by Mayweather was not illegal. I'm not so sure I would go as far as you to lay the claim on unsportsmanlike conduct squarely on Mayweather. Clearly, Ortiz was getting frustrated during the fight as Mayweather was appearing to have his way. The unsportsmanlike act was Ortiz's torpedo head butt into Mayweather's lower lip especially after their corner made a point of claiming Mayweather's historical dirty tactics, making references to his use of his elbow in prior fights. Can anybody blame Mayweather for suckerpunching Ortiz after his unsportsmanlike act? They did come back to the center of the ring and touch gloves. What's left for a fighter to do? --Levon, Baltimore

For Mayweather-Ortiz, did Joe call time in? I know he called time out, but in other boxing situations, before calling time in, I normally see the ref call the other boxer back in from the neutral corner, keeps them apart with both arms extended, and then kind of gestures his hand to the middle of them and says "time in," "let's go," "continue" or whatever. I didn't really see that in this fight. I did see some kind of pointing to both fighters, but Joe was also looking to the side afterwards, so it seems like he was getting more info before calling time in. --Paul, San Jose

I don't what you were watching but it was clear to me and about 25 other people in the room that Ortiz was kicking Mayweather's butt in final round, aside from making a stupid mistake of head butting Mayweather. Mayweather clearly took advantage of Ortiz apology. Ortiz didn't know what was coming. It's obvious to the naked eye Mayweather is a dirty boxer. --Alexander, Roseville, Calif.

This debate is going to rage on for a while, and the opinions are strong on both sides. The bottom line is that according to referee Joe Cortez -- and backed up by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as well as Ortiz's camp, which has elected not to challenge the outcome of the fight -- what Mayweather did was legal. Cortez can be heard saying "let's go" when the fighters were brought together. How long should Mayweather be expected to wait? Should he hold back because Ortiz is inexperienced? Further, I talked to several fighters after the fight, including Tommy Hearns, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, and all agreed that Mayweather was within the rules to throw that thudding combination.

And I disagree that Ortiz was winning the fourth round. Ortiz was coming forward but if you watch the replay very few of his punches were connecting. That's the beauty of Mayweather, his elusiveness. I think Ortiz's head butt had a lot to do with being frustrated that these haymakers that found Andre Berto's chin weren't finding Mayweather's. The judges, writers in press row, nearly everyone I talked to described this as a one-sided win for Mayweather.

The Mayweather Method: Find an opponent who has zero chance of ever hitting you, much less hurting you, but who has some credentials, possibly a meaningless title won against inferior competition. Hype the mismatch for months, somehow convincing people eventually that the 7-1 underdog has a real chance. Convince the world that this is a grudge match, that you've been disrespected. Counterpunch to an easy victory, without ever really exchanging or risking being hit. Collect millions from those you've conned. Rant about how much you want to fight Pacquiao, even though you know you'll never fight him. Deposit money. Repeat annually, or maybe every 18 months or so. Wonder why nobody gives you credit for being the greatest of all time! --Jon, Waite Park, Minnesota

This is an argument heard a lot, Jon. In this week's Sports Illustrated I write an essay saying, essentially, that this string of good-but-not-great fighters has to stop. Mayweather is very good at selling a fight; he was born to play the heel on 24/7. For that reason he doesn't have to fight Manny Pacquiao, because he can collect $30 to $40 million fighting Ortiz-like opponents.

Do you think Mayweather is in the class of great fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran? --Steven, Washington D.C.

Not until he beats Manny Pacquiao. It's as simple as that.

I find it odd that it's so popular to continually question the greatness of the undefeated, multi-division world champion Mayweather, while giving a virtual pass to claims to greatness of the previously defeated (and KO'd) Manny Pacquiao. Don't you think Pacquiao's suspected (alleged) PED use deserve just as much scrutiny as Mayweather's demand that he take an Olympic-style blood test prior to agreeing to a fight? --Tony, Miami

Here's the difference, Tony: Pacquiao isn't claiming he is the greatest of all time. Mayweather has placed himself above the greats like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong. That deserves greater scrutiny. Pacquiao has just been doing his thing, letting history judge him.

That being said -- and even though I question Mayweather's motives -- I do think blood testing is good for boxing. It won't be a staple of big fights until someone figures out how to pay for it -- USADA testing costs about $80,000 -- but making sure a violent, potentially deadly sport is clean is a good thing. Here's hoping that the commission's get on board with this type of testing.

Nobody is giving Pacquiao a pass.

Any chance Sergio Martinez faces Manny or Floyd? --Eric, Racine, Wisc.

Martinez is doing everything he can to land one of those fights. He said he will drop to 150 pounds for a shot at Pacquiao. His promoter, Lou DiBella, told me Martinez will put his middleweight belt up at a 154¼ pound limit and agree not to rehydrate to more than 164 pounds -- the same weight Ortiz ballooned to after the weigh-in -- on fight night. But I don't see it. Martinez is a very, very dangerous opponent. He's got power. He has a great chin. He fights with an awkward style. He's unquestionably one of the top five fighters in the world. I just don't see Mayweather or Bob Arum taking that kind of risk, especially when Martinez is still establishing himself as a bankable fighter.

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