LAS VEGAS -- For the first three rounds of Saturday night's WBC welterweight title fight, 24-year-old Víctor Ortiz demonstrated poise beyond his years, standing toe to toe with undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. and giving him everything he could handle.
But late in the fourth round, in what can be called a rookie mistake, the Ventura fighter exposed his lack of big-fight experience.
Referee Joe Cortez had brought the fighters to the middle of the ring following a head butt by Ortiz. After they touched gloves, Cortez failed to push the two fighters far enough apart and the veteran Mayweather took advantage.
With Ortiz's hands still down, Mayweather landed a legal left hook, that many in the arena felt was more of a cheap shot.
The shot stunned Ortiz and as he staggered back and Mayweather then landed a right that sent Ortiz down for the count, earning Mayweather the victory at 2:59 of the fourth.
"I took the break by the referee and I obeyed exactly as I was told," Ortiz said. "And then, boom, he blindsided me.
"There's two ways to look at it, but as far as I was concerned I came here to entertain the fans and I think they were entertained. There was a miscommunication with the referee but nobody is perfect. This was a learning experience. But I don't think it was a fair fight."
Mayweather defended the move.
"We touched gloves and we were back to fighting and then I threw the left and right hand after the break," Mayweather said. "In the ring you have to protect yourself at all times.
"He did something dirty when it was his corner who said I was dirty. But I won the fight."
It might take some time, but the sting of Saturday night's loss to Mayweather will eventually subside.
The more pressing question is how Ortiz responds to the adversity of losing both the fight and his WBC welterweight title.
Two years ago Ortiz suffered a similar difficult loss when he was knocked out by Marcos Maidana. That time, Ortiz showed he had the mental fortitude to put the loss behind him, coming back to the ring with an improved focus and attitude that helped him claim his first world title.
Time will tell how he responds this time, but Ortiz would seem to still have a bright future ahead of him.
Ortiz was asked during the post-fight news conference if he felt like the stage was too big for him.
"I worked for this moment my whole life," Ortiz said. "In the locker room after the fight, I shed my tears and cried like a baby. But those tears are down the drain. I will be champion again -- in the next six months."
Ortiz clearly felt bad about the head butt that started the strange chain of events that ended the fight. He apologized during the fight and afterward.
"I made some mistakes tonight," Ortiz said. "My emotions got the best of me, but I had a point taken away. I had fun tonight."
The Ortiz camp started their post-fight remarks by congratulating Mayweather for becoming the new welterweight champion. They then asked for a rematch.
While his talent and performance on Saturday night might warrant another shot at Mayweather, it's doubtful that will happen.
That's because the only opponent the boxing world wants to see Mayweather step into the ring with is Manny Pacquiao.
But while he may never get another shot at Mayweather, Ortiz would figure to still be a hot property, one who should be able to get back into another big-time fight sooner rather than later.
Before that takes place, Ortiz should use the coming months to reflect on all that has happened to him and to refocus his efforts on continuing to build his boxing legacy.