By Johnny Walker
There I was, watching a boxing match, and suddenly a WWE bout broke out.
“Vicious” Victor Ortiz had been mostly being outmaneuvered in his bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., but was still offering a spirited defense of his WBC welterweight title, when the entire context of the contest changed. Vicious Vic delivered a very blatant leaping headbutt to Mayweather’s mouth, and after that, it was pro wrestling, barely disguised as a boxing match, all the way.
Photo: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos
Pretty Boy Floyd aka “Money” Mayweather of course took great offense to the headbutting infraction, and Vicious Vic suddenly turned into Obsequious Ortiz, offering stagey hugs and kisses and all manner of “please don’t hurt me for that cheap shot” apologies in the great tradition of Pretty Boy – not Mayweather, but Bobby Heenan.
After having a point deducted for his actions, Ortiz continued to apologize in an exaggerated, theatrical manner, far beyond what was called for, and referee Joe Cortez, in the great tradition of pro wrestling officials through the ages, suddenly decided that he saw something very interesting in the crowd, something far more interesting than the fight he was supposed to be officiating.
As Cortez gazed into the audience, a miffed looking Money May decided that Vicious Vic’s apologies were getting on his nerves, even more than the headbutt did, and clocked him in the face with a left hook as they came out of the apology hug/clinch.
Vicious tried in vain to draw Cortez’s attention to this little detail, but was then hit again, this time by a right, and dropped.
Only then did Cortez find the action in the ring of sufficient interest to actually pay attention and count Ortiz out, as the outraged crowd gasped in disbelief.
But the pro wrestling takeover wasn’t over: in the post-match interview, Money got into it with Larry Merchant, who played the role of famed wrestling announcer “Mean Gene” Okerlund, getting mixed up in the controversy as Money loudly called for his dismissal from HBO.
“If I was 50 years younger, I’d kick your ass!” “Mean Larry” said, getting right in Mayweather’s grill.
Vicious Vic, meanwhile, tried hard to be the good guy in the aftermath, good-naturedly not even complaining about losing the belt that was supposedly so precious to him. Ah well, you win some, you lose some (and I’m now very rich anyway).
This entire scenario could have been scripted by Vince McMahon himself, and some online commenters have suggested that it was. I mean, Mayweather has appeared in WWE events before, so why not? Could Mr. McMahon have been brought in as a consultant for this Money Mayweather-produced spectacle?
I don’t believe that, of course, yet when so much money is being made by the people involved here, you can never totally dismiss the conspiracy theories either.
All I know is, from the blatant headbutt on, this high profile fight devolved into a farce, and all the participants named here are equally guilty.
Yet some boxing scribes are nevertheless writing today about the reappearance of Mayweather bringing some “buzz” back to boxing in America.
Maybe so, but is this the kind of “buzz” American boxing really needs?