Victor Ortiz turned his WBC welterweight title bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr into a "street fight" on Saturday but paid a heavy price when he woke up on the canvas after being controversially knocked out.
In a tumultuous fourth round, champion Ortiz head-butted the challenger and referee Joe Cortez immediately called time and deducted a point.
Acknowledging the foul, Ortiz hugged Mayweather apologetically before kissing him on the cheek and the two fighters touched gloves. Ortiz had his hands down when Mayweather landed a left hook followed by a straight right that put Ortiz out for the count.
Ortiz said it had all been part and parcel of boxing.
"I was called to break by the referee and I obeyed exactly as I was told," Ortiz told reporters after losing his title. "And then, boom, he blindsided me"
Ortiz slipped to 29-3-2 with the loss.
"The ref said something. I looked up and he just caught me. I was like: 'Wow', and I woke up after. It happens. It's part of the game."
Ortiz admitted the head-butt was a big mistake and conceded the controversial ending was deserved.
"I apologised to him after the fight as well," said Ortiz. "It was in the heat of the moment. In a sense, it was a payback."
Mayweather, who extended his perfect professional record to 42-0 with 26 knockouts, said he had done nothing illegal and it was Ortiz who had been guilty of dirty tactics.
"We came together, we touched and it's fight time from what I know," the 34-year-old said. "He wanted to do me dirty and then two minutes later he wanted to be friends."
Former light welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, who lost title bouts to Britons Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan, agreed.
"Victor's the one who turned it into a street fight with (head) butts," Malignaggi told Reuters. "You can't take it up there and then expect the other guy to take it back down. Besides, you protect yourself at all times."
Please double click on the newslink:
for more boxing stories
for more sports stories