Don’t Laugh—Victor Ortiz is Good for Boxing

By Paul Magno on July 11, 2017
Don’t Laugh—Victor Ortiz is Good for Boxing
He’s a thoroughbred athlete with a scrambled brain and fragile psyche. (Chris Farina)

By no means is he a savior or will he ever be a key player in the game. But he’s fun, gets people talking, and is absolutely unpredictable…

On the occasion of yet another Victor Ortiz comeback:

Ortiz is what he is. He’s a thoroughbred athlete with a scrambled brain and fragile psyche. He’s not consistent main stage material and, at this point, it’s very safe to say that he will never reach his full potential as a fighter.

The guy is a mess. True.

But just because Golden Boy tried to hype Ortiz as the next GOLDEN BOY and proceeded to cram him down the public’s throat as such, there’s no reason to hold a grudge.

In defeat or near defeat, Ortiz has produced some truly memorable moments. The knock against him as a serial quitter would not even be an issue if not for one poorly thought-out post-fight interview after losing a hellacious shootout to Marcos Maidana and an inept corner during his bout with Josesito Lopez that forced him to throw in the towel for himself after suffering a broken jaw.

The Maidana and Lopez fights were the defining moments of his career and contributed to Ortiz becoming increasingly detached from his profession. Between those two psyche-killers, though, were a Fight of the Year-caliber win over Andre Berto, a few solid victories, and on odd, ugly, but hardly damning TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather.

While recovering from injuries sustained in the Lopez fight, Ortiz worked the Hollywood circuit like few other active boxers have. Yeah, much of it was silly fluff like his Facelube endorsement and Dancing with the Stars, but boxing desperately needs more of its stars to at least attempt a crossover to the mainstream. Ortiz looked like a dope, but at least he tried.

And when he came back to the ring from his long layoff in 2014, he produced yet another run of memorable fights that began with a shocking second round stoppage loss to Luis Collazo and ended with an exciting four-round knockout at the hands of Andre Berto in a rematch of their hard-fought 2011 battle.

The Collazo loss looked to be, at best, the product of an ill-advised booking. At worst, it looked like Golden Boy throwing in the towel on Ortiz, sticking him in the ring with a real old school pro after seventeen months off rehabbing a badly broken jaw. It was hard to imagine things turning out well for Ortiz given the circumstances under which he fought Collazo.

The Berto fight, meanwhile, was a roll of the dice that paid dividends. Ortiz showed once again that there’s no shame in being the lesser fighter, as long as you can entertain. And macho fan posturing aside, the man has always delivered thrills, even in defeat—actually, MOSTLY in defeat.

And now, fifteen months after losing to Berto, a 30-year-old Ortiz is ready to get back in the ring, pitted against Mexican journeyman Saul Corral on July 30 at the Rabobank Theater in Bakersfield, California, working alongside former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. Nobody’s taking this particular comeback as anything other than a grab at money and a piece of the spotlight—but, really, that’s okay.

Critics may roll their eyes and jump on social media to scoff at the idea of the well-roasted fighter back in action, but sometimes it’s okay just to come back for the sake of coming back. Not every fighter is destined for greatness or even consistent, high-end competence. Fans won’t be losing out on anything with Ortiz back in the mix on some level.

There’s no reason Ortiz can’t be brought back into the sport, showcased in some easy squashes on TV, then paired off in, perhaps, a compelling, fan-friendly brawl with battle-worn longtime rival Brandon Rios. Ortiz-Rios wouldn’t mean a whole lot, but it WOULD be fun.

There are a lot of those fun little TV fights that could be made with Ortiz. As a second (or third) tier attraction who can help sell some of the smaller shows and tangle with the occasional fringe contender whose name is bigger than his credibility—and there are plenty of those types at welterweight-junior middleweight—Ortiz can be a nice little asset to the sport. There’s certainly no shame in playing to the smaller houses.

And maybe he even fights his way out of the small shows, working himself back on to the main stage for one last run at a major, legacy-defining moment. Most likely, though, he gets overtaken by younger, hungrier fighters on the way up and is eventually run from the sport, like just about every other fighter to ever lace up a pair of gloves. But, until that happens, the guy can provide fans some quality entertainment.

Ortiz is good for boxing. By no means is he a savior or will he ever be a key player in the game. But he’s fun, gets people talking, and is absolutely unpredictable. Boxing could use more characters like Victor Ortiz.

Victor Ortiz vs. Saul Corral will be televised live Sunday night on Fox Sports 1.

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  1. Lucas McCain 11:36am, 07/12/2017

    I hope by “scrambled brain” you mean confused motives or uncertain commitment, not actual dementia pugilistica.  That’s not good for anybody!

  2. Pete The Sneak 04:23am, 07/12/2017

    Paul, nice write up. I agree with you as well. If Ortiz is anything, he is always entertaining, regardless of a win or loss. You know there will always be some kind of drama when he fights, so you do want to tune in. As Toro said, he always starts well and you say, hey, he looks pretty good. But then in the middle rounds, he begins to get tagged and somewhere along the line it becomes a slug fest, where he more times than not ends up on the wrong side of it. Still, it is definitely entertaining. A Rios/Ortiz fight on ESPN would be a pretty damn nice scrap…Peace

  3. Kid Blast 04:49pm, 07/11/2017

    He just “quits” too easily. I don’t hold that against him, but when the going gets rough, he gets going the wrong way. I feel a tad sorry for him. He always starts well but then something happens. I’d love to see Rio fight him. But I agree, he is good for boxing in a strange way.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:43pm, 07/11/2017

    His worst loss was to Floyd hands down…..don’t have a clue as to what was going through his mind at that moment in time but for some reason he gave Floyd that free shot at his chin….and don’t think even for a minute that he didn’t know that Floyd was about to do the deed and yet he did nothing to protect himself….nothing!

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