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Flashback Friday | Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz

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Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

On September 17, Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) would challenge WBC champion Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) for the Welterweight crown.

The theatrics began well before the fighters stepped inside the ring at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. HBO’s famed 24/7 series followed the fighters as they prepared for battle which got physical at the weigh-in the afternoon prior to fight night.

Mayweather, 34, stood next to the scale having just weighed in one-half pound under the 147-pound limit. After Ortiz, 24, climbed off the scale having weighed in right on point at 147 pounds, Mayweather immediately greeted him.

The two stood nose to nose and forehead to forehead as jawing erupted. Ortiz, smiling, appeared to give as good as he was getting. Matters escalated when Mayweather grabbed the champion by his throat.

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Any chances of a melee or additional physical confrontation were quickly squelched by handlers as the two were pulled to opposite sides of the stage.

The intrigue of Mayweather being away for 16 months and returning to challenge a younger, stronger man for a title had managed to squeeze some additional interest from boxing fans and non-boxing fans alike.

The year was 2011.

The Ring Magazine ranked Ortiz as the No. 2 Welterweight in the world. The opportunity to face Mayweather was generated largely in part to his gutsy, exciting slugfest against Andre Berto in April.

The two dueled like a pair of old school gunslingers and traded knockdown after knockdown. Ortiz was relentless and proved the better man on that night, winning a unanimous decision.

Although Mayweather was unranked due to his inactivity, many boxing fans still considered him at the top of the pound-for-pound list.

In May of 2010 he had survived a brief scare in the second round against Sugar Shane Mosely who had landed two mammoth right hands, buckling his knees and hurting him badly. Mayweather survived and went on to dominate Mosley and score an easy unanimous decision.

The showdown, billed as “Star Power,” would air live on HBO Pay-Per-View with Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward calling the blow-by-blow action. Nearly 15,000 fans had packed the MGM Grand.

The early action saw Ortiz, a 6-1 underdog, showing competitive streaks while holding his own in some of the early exchanges.

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Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Mayweather, donned in black trunks trimmed in orange, glided effortlessly from right to left while popping a strong left jab while mixing in straight right hand leads.

Ortiz, a southpaw, used his own jab and banged hard left hands and right hooks to the Mayweather body. Outfitted in silver trunks with red and blue trim, Ortiz showed no early signs of being embarrassed in the first three minutes.

Merchant observed, “A good round for Floyd, but Ortiz didn’t look outclassed.”

In Round 2, the champion pressed Mayweather, pushing him into the ropes and forcing a fast pace. Ortiz was effective enough that ringside scorer Harold Lederman gave him the round.

Lampley was captivated, “Second round is fascinating. Young Victor Ortiz is having his moments here and there. He’s gotten Floyd Mayweather, at least for the moment, into something of a fight.”

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Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

After a third round that was fought more at Mayweather pace, the activity level rose again in Round 4. Mayweather appeared to be in command, pumping his left jab into the onrushing champions face.

Just one minute into the fourth, Ortiz turned the tide and strafed Mayweather with a left hand, driving him into the ropes.

The crowd rose to its feet, roaring their approval. Lampley went bananas, “And Victor Ortiz lands a right hook! And he lands another one! And a big left! That brought the crowd to life again!”

Mayweather moved the action back to the center of the ring but, like déjà vu, Ortiz again pounded away, driving Mayweather into the ropes. With just 15 seconds remaining in the round, Ortiz stopped his assault to launch an intentional head butt, blasting the top of his head into Mayweather’s mouth.

Referee Joe Cortez immediately called time. Before he could scold Ortiz, the scene entered a bizarre moment that saw the champion approach Mayweather to apologize, wrapping his arm around him while kissing his cheek.

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Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As Cortez took a point away from the champion for the foul, Ortiz again apologized to Mayweather.

Incredibly, the affair turned even more unusual when Cortez signaled for the action to resume. While Ortiz apologized to Mayweather for a third time, Cortez was distracted while he appeared to be talking with the timekeeper at ringside.

In any event, whatever he was doing, we know that he was not watching the fighters.

Mayweather blasted Ortiz with a left hook and immediately followed it up with a crunching right hand.

Ortiz crashed to the deck. Merchant had clearly seen the events unfold, “Ortiz was apologizing. Mayweather was punching.”

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Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

While the crowd roared, many not sure what they had just witnessed, Lampley followed up, “Protect yourself at all times. This isn’t going to win him any more fans, but, it was legal. It was legal.”

The fight ended by way of a knockout at 2:59 of Round 4.

After the bout, the fireworks continued during the post-fight interview. While Merchant quizzed Mayweather on the events that had just unfolded, the new champion erupted, hurling insults at the longtime HBO analyst.

Merchant, however, got in the final word, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass.”

Only in boxing.