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Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight turned into a circus

In this phoprovided by Las Vegas News Bureau Floyd Mayweather knocks out Victor Ortiz as referee Joe Cortez watches during

In this photo provided by the Las Vegas News Bureau, Floyd Mayweather knocks out Victor Ortiz as referee Joe Cortez watches during their WBC Welterweight bout, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones)

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Updated: November 30, 2011 12:17AM

Boxing took another punch to the gut last Saturday night with the ridiculous spectacle that was the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight.

This was one of the few bouts in recent years that attracted attention outside the circle of hard-core boxing fans, with nearly 15,000 turning out to see the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and millions more watching via pay-per-view and closed circuit in more than 100 countries.

It was supposed to be a fight. It turned into a circus.

Mayweather, 34, dominated his 24-year-old opponent for three rounds. In the fourth, Ortiz intentionally head-butted Mayweather, causing the ref to temporarily halt the bout and deduct a point from Ortiz, who actually kissed Mayweather on the cheek as part of his apology.

The fighters were moved to the center of the ring and touched gloves. Time was called “in,” but Ortiz still seemed to be looking toward the ref for a signal to resume. Mayweather pounced, tagging Ortiz with a left and then flooring him with a right.

End of fight. The consensus seemed to be that Mayweather’s punches were legal cheap shots. You gotta protect yourself in the ring at all times.

Post-fight, Mayweather grew weary of veteran TV analyst Larry Merchant’s grilling and yelled at Merchant, “You don’t know s--- about boxing,” prompting the 80-year-old Merchant to reply, “I wish I was 50 years younger, I’d kick your ass.”

Another sorry spectacle for a dying sport. 

I’m forever yours . . . faithfully

It’s a measure of our cynical times and of our collective distaste/fascination/repulsion with the gate-crashing Salahis that when Michaele ran off with Journey guitarist Neal Schon, more than a few folks wonderedwhether the whole thing was some kind of twisted publicity stunt.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi are like a middle-aged version of Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag: We know we shouldn’t even waste time talking about these utterly disposable, somewhat-famous-for-being-famous publicity whores, but they’re so aggressively, consistently unlikable that we can’t help ourselves. So when Tareq contacted authorities and took to Twitter last week to say he thought his wife had been kidnapped — but it turned out she hadn’t been taken hostage, she had run off with Journey’s lead guitarist — come on, that’s TMZ gold right there.

And of course TMZ was all over the story, which just got more bizarre as the week went on.

Of course Tareq would go to dinner with Michael Lohan, one of the few “celebrities” on the planet more odious than himself, and Tareq would proclaim that Lohan is “the real deal.”

Of course Journey would put out a flier letting roadies know Tareq was persona non grata backstage.

Of course it would turn out Schon had just gotten married two months ago — to one Ava Fabian, former Playboy Playmate and the titular star of “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael,” whose other credits include Barney’s Beauty in “The Whoopee Boys,” Cute Girl in “Mobsters,” Woman in an episode of “The Drew Carey Show” and The Queen of Mars in the unforgettable “Lobster Man from Mars.”

One of TMZ’s ubiquitous camera-wielders caught up with Fabian, who still looks amazing a couple of years shy of 50, and asked her to confirm that she’s the Ava Fabian who is married to Neal Schon. She confirmed it, said she had no interest in taking back Schon and ignored the camera guy’s “Open Arms” pun.

Meanwhile, Michaele was photographed onstage at a Journey concert, in Tampa, Fla., Tareq was claiming Michaele’s actions are killing the family dog — and out of more than 118,000 respondents to a TMZ poll, some 42 percent said they believed the Salahi divorce is fake.

Is it possible the whole thing is the most elaborately constructed publicity grab in modern times? I suppose so — but after the dust settles, how does anyone profit from it? Are Schon and Fabian and the Salahis all going to do a reality show together?

I wouldn’t rule out anything, but it seems beyond the realm that even the Salahis could concoct such a scheme.

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