Protect yourself at all times is the boxing mantra that has been stated for years.
For Victor Ortiz, not understanding the full meaning of the phrase on Saturday cost him his title.
In a surprise conclusion to a much-anticipated bout, Floyd Pretty Boy Mayweather Jr. defeated Ortiz in a fourth-round knockout in Las Vegas on Saturday night to capture the WBC welterweight championship belt.
The bout ended in controversial fashion.
After an unprovoked lunging headbutt by Ortiz, Mayweather decided to respond by delivering a quick-start left and right cross combination to Ortiz immediately after Ortiz put his fists to Mayweather's in an act of goodwill and apology.
The act by Ortiz is customary amongst boxers, and usually involves both boxers taking a significant pause before restarting.
Only for Mayweather, that pause lasted a blink of an eye. The combination by Mayweather was intended to knock out Ortiz, and it did just that. Ortiz failed to stand after veteran referee Joe Cortez's 10 count.
It didn't seem as though Cortez had done an adequate separation of Mayweather and Ortiz, but that didn't stop Mayweather from retaliating after the headbutt.
I took the break by the referee and I obeyed exactly as I was told, Ortiz said, according to ESPN. And then, boom, he blindsided me.
The headbutt was so blatant by Ortiz that some might say that Mayweather's reaction was justified. Ortiz literally jumped off the mat and threw his head at Mayweather and connected. This was a move that might have made France and Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane jealous after his actions in the 2006 World Cup.
Some headbutts are intentional and some are accidental, but there was no mistaking the one by Ortiz.
Ortiz knew exactly what he was doing. His headbutt could have done serious damage to Mayweather, and it seemed that the undefeated fighter regarded the action by Ortiz as an underhanded move that deserved a harsh retaliation.
He did something dirty when it was his corner who said I was dirty, Mayweather said. But I won the fight.
True, Mayweather won the fight, and he has no obligation to satisfy fans with an entertaining fight, but the outcome of the fight leaves a bad taste in many viewers' mouths.
Ortiz, whether he was sincere or not, was apologetic for his mistake. He certainly didn't expect Mayweather to react the way he did. Both punches Mayweather threw were nothing close to resembling jabs -- they were reaction blows.
Even after Cortez correctly deducted a point from Ortiz, there was a moment for the boxers to stop fighting, and Ortiz gave Mayweather a kiss on the cheek. Mayweather didn't seem to care, and when the fight resumed, it was over for Ortiz.
Mayweather obviously felt that the fight needed to end right then and there. Ortiz learned a harsh lesson -- being classy in owning up to a mistake means little when you make a shockingly ill-advised, leaping headbutt.
Mayweather appeared to be winning the fourth round, and probably deserved to be leading three-rounds-to-one in the fight. Yet, Ortiz had been boxing with solid results as an underdog who had a decent chance of pulling off an upset.
With the point deduction, Ortiz would have had a major uphill battle to climb. He would have had to take major risks to knockout Mayweather, and that would mean he would have been susceptible to Mayweather taking advantage of an opening. Basically, losing the fourth round and having the point deducted meant the fight was probably over for Ortiz, anyway.
It's also unclear how much damage the headbutt did to Mayweather. It's plausible that Mayweather felt that a cut could have opened from the knock, and that meant he needed to take swift action. He didn't want Ortiz to perhaps target a possible gash on his face.
Where does this leave both fighters?
Ortiz remains a name fighter after this high-profile bout. He can choose to line up a fight with any promising welterweight, and there are several of them. He might consider Erik Morales, who fought on the undercard of the Saturday main event, and won decisively.
The Mayweather victory might pave the way for a megabout with Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino boxing legend faces Juan Manuel Marquez in November.
A Pacquiao-Mayweather bout might garner both fighters a $50 million payday.