There was a time when seeing Victor Ortiz’s name on a bill would’ve been enough to pay attention. You would’ve assumed that he was at least in the main event and possibly part of a very successful, and anticipated, promotion against a top opponent.
However, that is no longer the case.
We last saw Ortiz in a fairly meaningless fight against Manuel Perez back in December 2014. It was the undercard of Amir Khan-Devon Alexander and on that night in Las Vegas Ortiz wasn’t even one of the most interesting fights/fighters on the card. Ortiz was in the ring against Perez, but he competed for the curiosity of fans against the likes of undefeated fighters like Keith Thurman, who beat Leonard Bundu by unanimous decision, Jermall and Jermell Charlo, and Errol Spence Jr.
Ortiz wasn’t even the most intriguing fighter with a previous loss as Abner Mares was only one fight removed from his first loss and on the comeback trail against Jose Ramirez.
A year later, Ortiz is making just his second appearance since suffering his 5th career loss to Luis Collazo in what ended up being a shocking 2nd round KO upset. That was Ortiz’s third loss in a row.
Victor Ortiz is now scheduled to face Gilberto Sanchez Leon in San Antonio, Texas on the undercard of Omar Figueroa-Antonio DeMarco on a PBC on NBC card. Certainly Ortiz is one of the more significant draws on this card, but there are plenty of fighters with the kind of upside that suggests they could upstage Ortiz or even surpass his interest level in a year or two.
Fighters like Mario Barrios, Hugo Centeno Terrell Gausha, and Adam Lopez are all on the verge of having significant 2016. Still, none of them have been or will ever likely be a headliner against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ortiz is by far the most financially successful fighter on the card.
But with veteran fighter Chris Arreola in a potentially competitive fight with Travis Kauffman, Ortiz’s fight can’t be considered anything more than a tune-up fight on his road to a much more significant fight.
Ortiz has been on the big screen, he’s earned himself some fairly notable sponsorships, and remains one of Boxing’s most commercially recognized fighters. However, in the boxing world, he still has plenty to prove in regards to what he has left and, more importantly, his commitment to the sport. After all, he is in a position where he can make money without getting punched in the face.
He hooked up with trainer Joel Diaz after admitting that his lack of quality training over the past few outings hindered his previous performances. Diaz is a great trainer and exactly the kind of trainer needed for a fighter that admits to not taking training super serious in the past.
In previous interviews, Diaz appeared to be harsh when the topic of Ortiz came up and stated that he would not take anything but Ortiz’s very best. Hopefully, Ortiz will respond well to Diaz’s tough love, but the fact remains that Ortiz’s biggest issues have been his own mindset in the ring. He has allowed himself to fall out of rhythm and become unfocused in fights, but sticking to the game plan has probably hurt Ortiz the most.
This time around, Ortiz seems like he does not want to disappoint the coaches that have helped him prepare so thoroughly.
“I will not disappoint my coaches. I made big changes in my career and I think it’s for the better. We’re ready for Saturday night,” Ortiz told TBV.
Now, headed into this fight with Leon, Ortiz suggests that his training regimen has him absolutely prepared, but there seems to be a huge chip on his shoulder.
In an interview with Anthony “Rod” Rodriguez, Ortiz was asked about Diaz’s ability to help his mental preparation, to which Ortiz responded by snapping back and blaming the media for overemphasizing his past mental lapses. Ortiz was quick to remind us of those moments throughout his career where he successfully faced adversity, and there are plenty of those moments. Yet, he is clearly affected by what he feels is a misconception.
“I think there is a lot of mental problems with the media because anybody that can step in the ring and go 10-12 rounds, get dropped and get back up and still go to war — have your eye sliced open and cut — there’s something wrong with the people behind the media, eating doughnuts [and] typing their nonsense. I don’t look like I’ve been eating doughnuts, do I?
Ortiz’s focus on the media and how many doughnuts they eat is as juvenile as it is useless. Perhaps Ortiz was caught off-guard and fell back into his destructive pattern where a lapse in judgement is put on full display. But the only way Ortiz can successfully prove the naysayers wrong is by finding success in the ring after all of the hardships he’s faced inside it.
The problem is Ortiz cannot accomplish that feat on Saturday alone. A win over Leon will offer little evidence to the idea that he is fully rededicated to the sport after a year layoff caused by a wrist injury. He will have to beat a meaningful opponent, but before that he will have to fight more than once a year and certainly more than four times in three years (his current pace).
There has always been a perception of Ortiz who seemed to be a bit soft in nature. He doesn’t uphold the rugged Mexican fighter persona that his predecessors made famous. There is nothing wrong with being a “pretty boy” because it is one of the most proven marketing tools in boxing – just ask Oscar De La Hoya. And the truth is Ortiz has shown he has a propensity for blood and guts.
Perhaps the media and fans, especially the Mexican and Hispanic fans, have been unfair to Ortiz, but to be fair, I think Ortiz has been unfair to Ortiz. He has allowed himself to be seen as a secondary fighter. The kind of fighter that uses boxing as his secondary profession.
That kind of dedication in any world-class field will never be enough.