Referee Joe Cortez has been getting plenty of heat from all sides since Saturday night’s controversial finish to the Mayweather-Ortiz fight.  As Sunday wore on, the concensus seemed to be growing that it was Cortez who should bear a significant portion of the blame for the debacle, for not giving clear instructions to the boxers that time was in and they should resume boxing.  Here is what Cortez had to say:

“I had already ordered them to continue fighting and the clock was running, but Ortiz wanted to apologize again and he was off guard. Mayweather, who is more experienced, he took advantage, but did nothing illegal. Nowhere is there a rule that says the boxer has to apologize and hug the other fighter and do it at least two or three times. If you get ordered to fight and the clock is running, you have to fight. Ortiz’s inexperience cost him the fight,” Cortez told Les Jimenez.

Meanwhile UFC founder Dana White, a lifelong boxing fan,  weighed in:

“You can’t blame the fighters. The ref is in there to stop that shit from happening! That is the worst ref’n I have ever seen in boxing EVER. Boxers are always going after each other the ref is in there to keep it safe, clean and from turning into a real fight!”

Isn’t that the point?  Boxing is not, after all, a “real fight” — it’s ritualized combat meant to provide a reasonably save (hence the gloves) way for two trained athletes (not thugs) to engage each other without killing or maiming one another.

Meanwhile Boston Herald’s Ron Borges is putting forward a somewhat contrarion point of view which starts with:

When they say “Time in,” in boxing, they really mean it.

They don’t mean it’s time to shake hands. They mean it’s time to throw hands, which is exactly what Floyd Mayweather did Saturday night.

For those who think Mayweather was somehow out of line for twice punching unsuspecting but far from innocent Victor Ortiz in the face so fast in the fourth round that Ortiz went to sleep before he hit the canvas, consider this: Referee Joe Cortez turned to the timekeeper at ringside and said, “Time in.” After which Mayweather, with his hands, said, “Lights out.”

That sent me back to the tape of the fight and I reviewed it again.  (Yesterday I broke it down in detail in a post entitled: Here is exactly what Joe Cortez did to allow the bizarre ending to happen.)  In the hundred or so times I’ve reviewed the tape, I never heard Cortez say “Time In” — nor did I hear it this time.  You can ear every word cortez speaks throughout the incident from the time he calls “Time Out” until he is last heard asking the timekeeper if he is ready.  At no time can you hear Cortez say “Time in”, or “Box!” , which is the typical verbal command that ends a timeout.

Meanwhile Ortiz’s camp is talking about filing a protest but the Nevada Athletic Commission is already on record as backing Cortez, so it probably won’t go anywhere.

Perhaps Gareth Davies, writing in the Telegraph, said it best:  The debate over the end to this fight will continue, yet the bottom line here was that Ortiz took his eye off the ball, while Mayweather kept his eye on the prize, fairly or unfairly.

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