Photo by Al Bello via Getty Images
I use cheap shot in the title because that's what so many boxing fans today are calling what Floyd Mayweather did to Victor Ortiz last night in the main event of the "Star Power" pay-per-view.
If you didn't see it, Ortiz illegally headbutted Mayweather, prompting the referee take a point away. Before the action restarted, Ortiz quickly went over to hug his opponent and voice his apologies for such a blatantly classless move. Only it was shortly matched by one of Mayweather's own, as he took quick advantage of Ortiz while he had his guard down as he was stepping away from "Money" after hugging him.
The follow up one-two combination from Mayweather knocked Ortiz out and had fans everywhere in an absolute uproar. "It was unsportsmanlike," they said.
It should come as no surprise, then, that someone would make the connection between Mayweather's tendency to create controversy and his brief stint with WWE back in 2008. As it were, Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports was one of them. Here's the word from his post-fight column:
"Protect yourself at all times," Mayweather said. "That's what I was taught. [Expletive] happens. You live and you learn. Protect yourself at all times."
Mayweather once wrestled in the WWE, competing at Wrestlemania 24. He knows that nothing sells like controversy and the finish, though legal, has millions howling in protest.
He beamed afterward, noting he was happy with his performance. He didn't feel cheated out of a clean win and said he welcomed the buzz the finish created.
"Hey man, I'm good," he said. "Controversy is OK. Nothing wrong with some controversy to get the people talking. It's all good."
Let's not pretend that Mayweather's controversial ways were borne from his time within the confines of the marketing machine that is the WWE; they most certainly were not. That said, he undoubtedly learned that any press is good press and when you have a mega-babyface like Manny Pacquiao, the absolute best place to position yourself is as the top heel to go up against him.
Mayweather accomplished exactly that last night. And if he didn't solidify it with the cheap shot heard around the world, he left no doubt by engaging in a heated exchange with an 80-year-old Larry Merchent in the post-fight interview.
Now they just need to actually make that fight against Pacquiao happen.