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Victor Ortiz: Is he the Future of the Light Welterweight Division?

By Gina L. Caliboso

Golden Boy Promotions had a busy night recently. And, if you watched the replay of the night’s action, Argentina’s Marcos Maidana was a central figure in the fights of both Ortiz and Khan.

As a preliminary bout to the Khan – Maidana fight, contender Victor Ortiz, 28-2-2, 22 KO’s fought against Lamont Peterson, 28-1-1, 14 KO’s, with the fight ending in a majority decision draw. Even though Ortiz scored two knockdowns in the 3rd round of the bout, both Ortiz and Peterson failed to dominate the fight in order to come away with a win.

In boxing, fights that go to a majority draw always causes me to wonder how the better boxer could have won the fight convincingly. While a TV viewing of a bout does not put me in the judges’ eyes or scorecards, boxers need to have more connects, combined with power shots, productivity, ring generalship, and any number of x-factors, including stamina, footwork, surviving a round, and even coming back from a knockdown even stronger.

Juan Manuel Marquez is a prime example of the consummate fighter that gets knocked down, but shakes it off, and makes it even tougher for his opponent to beat him. I look in the eyes of the boxer/fighter and I love the confident boxer swagger that leaves no doubt in the judges’ mind as to the winner.

Back in September, Ortiz fought against Vivian Harris and he came away with the 3rd KO. But after watching the Peterson bout, Ortiz has a few areas of improvement.

Noticeably, he needs to finish as strong as he starts. Ortiz needs to put his opponents away early to ensure they don’t come back because I think as the fights get longer and he comes up against stronger fighters with more endurance, his weakness to start early strong and merely survive in the championship rounds just might make or break the direction of his career.

According to HBO Commentators, Ortiz had a 9 pound weight advantage once he hydrated overnight. The southpaw needed to take advantage and execute more power punches. Fortunately, Ortiz didn’t lack for energy once the fight began. Peterson, by contrast, started out rather slowly but slugged when he needed to. Peterson commented that if necessary, he can be a boxer than can slug.

Back in 2009, Ortiz had fought against Maidana for the interim WBA World Light Welterweight title. In this bout, both Ortiz and Maidana competed for knockdowns in the first round. Maidana also went down twice in round 2. Later, Ortiz would get knocked down in the 6th round. Maidana eventually won the knockdown contest that resulted in a TKO win at 0:46 in the 6th round.
It’s a fair assessment to say that Maidana must eagerly await Golden Boy fighters as he was about to face Khan later in the evening.

As for Ortiz, he has progressively become better since the Maidana loss. In December 2009, he fought against Antonio Diaz that resulted in a 7th round RTD due to a cut over Diaz’s eye. 2010 has definitely been an outstanding for the up and coming Ortiz, now ranked #4 among light welterweights. He began with a 10th round victory over Hector Alatorre. In May, he fought against Nate Campbell and scored a 1st round knockdown with the bout ending in a 10 round unanimous decision.

Now, I’ll take Ortiz’s fight history even further. He is, by far, a power puncher with KO ability. But I think it’s this ability that while achieves a quick victory, never quite challenges the mental and physical for a boxer. Going back to 2006, Ortiz fought a total of 6 times with only 1 bout going all 8 rounds to a unanimous decision. The other 5 bouts ended with 3 KO victories and 2 TKO victories all before reaching the final round.

In 2007, Ortiz fought a total of 5 times, with 2 bouts ending with a KO, 2 bouts by TKO, and yet another TD. Yet again, one bout went to a decision as the other remaining bouts ended before the final round.

As there have been too many decisions in boxing these days, even MMA fighters have a mantra that you never leave the bout at the hands of the judges, a boxer with KO ability is unique find. Even Ortiz’s record with 22 KO’s is outstanding, but it also reveals a weakness to a degree. A boxer gets the victory early and if he comes up against the boxer that tests him and pushes him beyond the halfway point of the fight, his KO ability suddenly becomes less of a factor and the boxer must execute the other intangibles in order to win the fight over the championship rounds.

Ortiz definitely has the intangibles, but it needs to be brought out and trained. In his relatively young career, he still has a few rounds to fight, but he should definitely face a tougher yet tactical opponent. With his natural KO ability, he will win a slugfest, but that’s perhaps where he would learn to bear down and learn to box over the course of a championship fight. As Bradley and Alexander are set to face one another in January 2011, Ortiz needs to think about his next opponent. As I suggested for Khan, Zab Judah might make for an interesting matchup.

Ortiz may also competitively match up with Paul Malignaggi. I don’t suggest Ortiz move down in weight and considering the talent at welterweight, he should stay where he is – for now – and ranked #4 – it’s not a bad place to be at all.

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