I didn’t want to go to see Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao in Vegas. After I broke my wrist in a fight last December, it’s really hard for me to watch boxing — to watch the sport that I love — because I know a lot of these guys are not as good as I am. So I wasn’t planning on going but I’m also in the movie Southpaw, and it needs to be promoted, so I went for that. I thought I had tickets but when I went to the MGM Grand box office, I found out they fell through. (I won’t get into that.) So, instead, I saw the fight at another hotel — I don’t even remember the name of it — with three friends, watching on closed-circuit TV.
Manny wasn’t as powerful or as brutal as he usually is, and when I saw how Floyd was running around, playing hit-and-run, I said, “This is going to be a 12-round, unanimous decision. I don’t want to watch this anymore.” I walked away and went off to the Strip to hang out. I didn’t want to see Floyd with his hands in the air at the end.
People kept coming up to me like, “Hey, Victor. What did you think?”
“You know, about the fight!”
“What fight? I’m not impressed.”
I don’t hold grudges. I’m not an angry person. But I’ll tell you this much — the night he and I fought in 2011, he lost all my respect. He definitely owes me a rematch because of how he knocked me out, costing me the WBC Welterweight Championship belt.
This is what happened during our fight: I took 16 elbows to my right eye. Floyd barely touches you with his actual fist but then he’ll sneak in that elbow. He’s so quick that you can’t see it — but I felt it. I knew exactly what it was. I kept saying, “Ref! Elbow! Elbow, ref!” and the ref, Joe Cortez, just said, “Keep fighting, Ortiz. Keep fighting.” So I kept fighting. During a break, I told my coach, “He’s hurting me with his elbow.” He told me to tell the ref, and I said I already did.
So my coach said, “Head-butt his ass.”
I really wasn’t going to do it. Then, in the fourth round, Floyd is backing up, getting pressed by me. He doesn’t know what the hell to do to me anymore so he elbows me again. And in the heat of the moment, I launched the head butt. At that point, I became human. I felt bad. I don’t foul people — ever. Not in 161 matches as a kid, not in 34 as a pro. So I gave Floyd a hug. I apologized. My hands are down, and then Floyd, boom, hits me once. Boom. He hits me again. I go down. I lose the belt.
I kept it classy in the ring but, afterward, in my dressing room, it was horrible. I cried like a little baby for a couple hours. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that a person could reach the pinnacle of his career, something he’s worked for since he was a little kid, and it could be snatched away like that. If he beat me on a 12-round decision then I could accept the loss. I would have said, “Well, good fight, champ.” But in this particular case, it’s “That was not the way to go, chump.”
Even though we have the same managers (whom I do not have an issue with), Floyd can’t talk to me. Since we fought, I’ve seen him a couple times and said, “What’s up?” He can’t even say hi. Not only can he hit me with my hands down, he can’t even say hi. That’s funny. I can’t even get angry anymore.
Being in that environment on May 2 — I know I belong there. I wish I was in that spot. What I find unfair is that Floyd gave Marcos Maidana one fight and then a rematch. I didn’t have to give Floyd a chance to fight me when I did, with the belt on the line. I could’ve cherry-picked my opponents but I wanted to take on the so-called pound-for-pound champ.
The hype for that weekend was big. The first day I was in Vegas, I was doing media from 9 in the morning to 7:50PM, talking about the movie and the fight. The fans wanted it. Everybody’s been wanting this fight for the last six years. I think if Floyd fought Manny sometime back then, he would have been in trouble. And once Manny’s shoulder gets better, they should definitely talk about a rematch. But while Manny is healing, why not a rematch with me? I’m coming back with a vengeance.
I know the reason I haven’t gotten a rematch is because of how I was able to hit and hurt him. People still come up to me and let me know that they’ve never seen Mayweather get touched up like that. Of course, that’s to be expected from my fans but the reality is these have been his fans, too. People that had never seen me fight before remember me as the kid he couldn’t stop. I know that’s why he went for a dirty knockout. I was too much for him and the only opportunity for him to stop me was when I wasn’t expecting him to. He didn’t care if it was legal or not, but boxing did and the boxing world — media, analysts and fans – knows that. I’ll always be the elephant in any room he walks in, and that lets me sleep at night. Floyd can say what he wants about his money but, as a fighter, I know that fight and my face keeps him up at night when the cameras are off. I know I couldn’t retire like that.
Why do I know I can beat him now? I just turned 28. When we’re in the ring, I’ll match his speed. I’m bigger than he is. I fight. I don’t run. That complicates things for Floyd. And the doctor just told me that my wrist is healing and I could be back in the ring, fighting, in September.
He clearly owes me a rematch, and the world knows it. So that’s my message to Floyd: Give the people what they want.