A ref stopped the Mayweather-Gotti III bout. ‘That’s when the real fighting started’

Two boxers, with fists raised, face each other in a ring.
A referee ended Sunday’s match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and John Gotti III at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Fla., because the two fighters refused to stop hurling profanities at each other.
(mpi04 / MediaPunch / IPx via Associated Press)

Kenny Bayless had heard enough.

The veteran referee had told Floyd Mayweather Jr. and John Gotti III to stop hurling profanities at each other during their exhibition boxing match Sunday at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Fla. He even went to their corners after the fifth round to warn that he would end the match if the jawing continued.

The jawing did continue during the next round. So Bayless stopped the match.

Or at least he tried to.

“The fight was officially over,” ringside play-by-play announcer Beto Durán told The Los Angeles Times on Monday. “That’s when the real fighting started.”

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After Bayless waved off the fight with about a minute remaining in the sixth round, Gotti went around the referee and continued throwing punches at Mayweather. The boxing legend initially attempted to block the punches before eventually landing a punch of his own, one that nearly took Gotti off his feet.


“The best punches were thrown after the fight was stopped,” said Durán, who was covering the pay-per-view bout for the Zeus Network with broadcast partners Antonio Tarver and Claudia Trejos. “Floyd had been toying with him the whole time and Gotti wasn’t able to respond. Gotti definitely got his best punches in after the match was called.”

A member of Mayweather’s camp made his way into the ring and tried to force Gotti away from Mayweather and into his corner. That person was then pushed away from Gotti by someone from Gotti’s camp.

By then, many more people had climbed into the ring and gotten involved in the brawl. While a mass of humanity was pushing and shoving in Gotti’s corner, Mayweather appeared to stay clear of the action and at one point could be seen smiling and bouncing on the ropes.

A large gaggle of people surrounds an area off of a boxing ring.
Chaos ensued after the match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and John Gotti III was stopped early Sunday, with people from both fighters’ camps and fans entering the ring.
(mpi04 / MediaPunch / IPx via Associated Press)

Durán didn’t stick around for that part. He, Tarver and Trejos were seated ringside by the neutral corner, but right in front of a group of Gotti fans that Durán said Mayweather had been taunting throughout the fight.

“Once everybody started jumping into the ring, we felt a push from behind us into our desk,” said Durán, who bid a quick farewell before he and his partners made a quick exit. “We left because I felt it starting to get dangerous.”


Bayless later could be heard in a video during the ruckus explaining that he stopped the fight after both boxers ignored his warning about their use of profanity. No winner was declared.

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Other videos on social media appear to show more fights breaking out on the floor of the arena and backstage. A representative for Mayweather did not respond to questions about the matter; Gotti and his team could not be reached.

Mayweather amassed a 50-0 record before retiring as a professional boxer after his technical knockout of MMA fighter Connor McGregor on Aug. 27, 2017. He has since taken part in numerous exhibition bouts. Gotti, grandson of late mob boss John Gotti, is 5-1 in pro MMA fights and 2-0 as a pro boxer.

In his nine years of broadcasting boxing, Durán said, he hadn’t experienced anything like what happened Sunday night.

But then again, he said, “Floyd’s fights are always an event.”