In June of 2009, months before leading into the biggest stage of the then 22-year-old Victor Ortiz’s career, the former Kansas native was perhaps the most heavily hyped prospect within the sport. As HBO’s Jim Lampley would exclaim in telecasts weeks before hand, “If you have yet to have had the chance to see rising star Victor Ortiz, you are missing out.” Despite never having fought for a world championship,Ortiz because of his highly touted talent and looks, garnered an opportunity to headline HBO’s Boxing After Dark at the Staples Center of Los Angeles in front of an adoring, packed crowd none the less.
The stage was set for Ortiz’s litmus test of wannabe or soon to be, once it was known that Ortiz’s adversary would be none other than one of the world’s foremost knockout artist Argentine slugger, Marcos Maidana . Things looked promising for Oritz quickly after the initial bell rang. Maidana got acquainted with the canvas, as did Ortiz in the same opening stanza. But after that, Ortiz seized the driver’s seat and floored Maidana a few more times and looked on his way to a crowd-pleasing, satisfying victory. Maidana’s intangibles, however, spoiled the seemingly inevitable outcome, as he continued to get up and land one or two to Ortiz’s three or four. Eventually, not out skilling Ortiz, but out willing Ortiz. After that night, Ortiz’s reputation would never be the same.
Fast forward to 2011, and Victor Ortiz redeemed nearly all of himself in defeating the previously unbeaten Andre Berto for the world’s WBC welterweight championship. A lot of the demons that had haunted Ortiz vaporized, as the media’s harsh interpretation of him diminished some. This was the highlight in Ortiz’s career thus far, and in all actuality will probably be the former champion’s career defining achievement. The triumph earned Ortiz a shot at “boxing’s super bowl” : a showdown with the polarizing Floyd Mayweather.
Ortiz’s glory, and fight with Mayweather for that matter, would both be short-lived. Ortiz through four rounds was largely receiving accurately placed right hands from Mayweather and his offensive arsenal was largely blunted. Save for a few partially landed blows on the ropes. Famously in the fourth round, Ortiz lost his composure and viciously (no pun intended) tried to head-butt Mayweather as his two fists were not quite getting the job done. Ortiz attempted to be a gentlemen, not once, twice, but three or four times. Once Mayweather felt he accepted his apology sufficiently enough he returned to his job and knocked out Ortiz. And that, barring something unimaginable, is the low point of Victor Ortiz’s career.
Ortiz would fight the year following the Mayweather debacle against a decently touted fighter in Josesito Lopez. Despite giving a crowd pleasing fight and valiant effort, Oritz disappointingly lost a bout he was favored in while suffering a broken jaw. Many in the boxing community understood Ortiz’s defeat and were not quick to jump in on Ortiz as they did after his showing against Maidana and Mayweather. After all, it was a great fight and Ortiz fought through a good portion with a broken jaw.
This is not a journalistic piece kicking a man while he is down. Not a piece that is going to say it is time to put a fork in the 27-year-old Victor Ortiz. Ultimately, Victor Ortiz should not have been counted out headed into late January’s bout with Luis Collazo. Nor should he have been after defeats to Maidana, Mayweather, or Lopez. Victor Ortiz squandered away his chances of ever fulfilling his potential when he looked in the mirror and decided that none of three aforementioned defeats happened because he had lost to a better fighter. Ortiz claimed his defeat to Maidana was just “pure luck”, that Mayweather “sucker punched him”, and also refuses to admit Lopez is “even on his level.” A true champion accepts the truth about his mishaps in his quest to become the best, and Victor Ortiz thus far has let himself down.