Victor Ortiz must address conduct
Former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz has some explaining to do.
Ortiz has been ordered to appear in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission at its Jan. 11 meeting -- to answer questions about his unsportsmanlike conduct during his September loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and inflammatory post-fight comments -- in order to be licensed for a scheduled fight in Las Vegas, commission executive director Keith Kizer told ESPN.com on Thursday.
If the commission is not satisfied with what it hears from Ortiz, he could be refused a license.
Ortiz is scheduled to face former titlist Andre Berto on Feb. 11 in a Showtime main event at the MGM Grand in a rematch of their April 16 barnburner. Ortiz beat Berto via unanimous decision to claim the 147-pound belt that he later lost to Mayweather on a fourth-round knockout.
In that high-profile fight on Sept. 17, Ortiz intentionally head-butted Mayweather in the fourth round and was penalized a point by referee Joe Cortez. After Cortez called time in, Ortiz was still trying to apologize to Mayweather for the foul when Mayweather threw two punches and knocked him out.
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All fighters who want to box in Nevada must reapply for a license annually and Ortiz's may have been rubber-stamped despite the intentional foul. However, Ortiz left the commission with little choice but to give his application additional scrutiny because of the remarks he made in a video interview last month. In the video, he said that when he fouled Mayweather he was attempting to break his nose and that he would do it again if a similar situation arose in a future fight.
Kizer said that commission chairman Raymond "Skip" Avansino Jr. directed that Ortiz's application for a license be put on the agenda for the next meeting. Ortiz applied for his license Wednesday.
"Chairman Avansino wants the commission to be able to question Mr. Ortiz about his actions in the ring on Sept. 17 and issues related thereto," Kizer said. "This is Mr. Ortiz's first fight since then and it's a new licensure year, but (the comments) definitely sealed it."
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), 28, and Ortiz, 24, both did interviews with various media outlets during a promotional news conference in Los Angeles to announce the bout on Dec. 19. The commission was concerned with remarks Ortiz made in an interview with Maxboxing.com.
"I was trying to break his nose, 100 percent, because (Mayweather) nailed me 16 times with his elbow on my right eye," Ortiz said in the interview. "It was wrong, it was very wrong. But given the fact that I had asked the ref to keep an eye on that and I told him (watch the) 'elbow' (and) he kept saying, 'Keep fighting Victor, keep fighting.' All right, you want to get dirty? I got dirty.
"I let the best take over. I let the best of me get away and for that I started feeling bad. And that's why I was like, 'Yo, Floyd, my bad bro, I apologize, man.' So I gave him a hug. They got me to feel human once again in the ring, and when I felt human I paid for it. Although I take it as a learning lesson, a learning experience, next time it ain't gonna be that. If I'm gonna head butt you, I'm gonna break your nose (on the) next head butt."
Said Kizer, "The apparent willingness by Mr. Ortiz to head butt an opponent in the ring according to his own words is definitely a cause for concern for the commission. This is pretty blatant and Mr. Ortiz made it pretty easy for the chairman to have a hearing by saying those comments."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, Ortiz's promoter, declined comment, but manager Rolando Arellano told ESPN.com that Ortiz would welcome the opportunity to answer the commission's questions, and that he was willing to appear in person even though it meant breaking his Southern California training camp for the day.
"The commission's mission is to help protect the safety and welfare of all fighters," Arellano said. "They're taking action to make sure that this type of conduct doesn't occur in the future. We appreciate the opportunity to go in front of them to discuss any and all of their concerns and to answer all of the questions they may have.
"When we step into that ring, we want to display the highest standard of sportsmanlike conduct, so we'll fly out and listen to them and address any of their concerns. We're not bothered by their request. They're doing their job and we have to assure them that we will do our job in accordance to the rules and conditions of the Nevada commission while participating in a boxing event."
Arellano pointed out that Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) does not have a history of unsportsmanlike conduct in fights and that he promptly apologized to Mayweather in the ring after the head butt, which eventually led to his defeat.
"Victor did something wrong that day and was apologetic and showed remorse," Arellano said. "He was reprimanded that day and the commission wants to make sure nothing goes afoul again."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.