Ortiz writes his own history
Story by Francisco Salazar
Photo by Chris Cozzone
Many young gifted athletes and professional fighters have come to hear this statement over and over.
“You are going to be the next . . . .”
While it may be flattering to hear this praise showered over and over, some athletes may feel embarrassed or pressured into living up to the that expectation.
For Victor Ortiz, he has a philosophy and an opinion on that statement.
“It may be nice to hear, but I do not want to be the next anybody,” says Ortiz. “I just want to make my own history and write my own chapters in my career and my life.”
Ortiz will get the opportunity to indeed add a chapter to his life Saturday night when he will get his first world title opportunity against hard-hitting Marcos Maidana at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
The bout will headline a Golden Boy Promotions card, which also includes featherweight champion Chris John defending his world title against Rocky Juarez. Both fights will be televised on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
Ortiz is coming off an impressive second round stoppage victory over Mike Arnaoutis in March in San Jose, Calif. While Ortiz did earn the victory with a hard body shot that Arnaoutis did not recover from, he felt that he could have performed better in the fight.
“It was not one of greatest performances,” said Ortiz, who has now stopped or knocked out his last eight opponents. “I just fought a smart fight and executed the plan from my corner. I don’t know if it was luck, but it surprised me when I pulled a Bernard Hopkins.”
Ortiz was referencing Bernard Hopkins’ knockout of Oscar De La Hoya in September of 2004.
It is not surprising to see the rise of Victor Ortiz from amateur, prospect, and now full-fledged contender. Although he is 22 years old, Ortiz has the mindset and presence in the ring of someone far older.
Although the popular southpaw from Oxnard has shown his ability to end fights early, Ortiz knows that any fighter who is favored to win could easily lose.
“I do the best to treat this as another fight,” said Ortiz, who is being trained by Daniel Garcia. “To me, every fight is a big fight. Whether it is a four or an eight or a 12 round fight, I treat every fight as a world title bout. I know Saturday’s fight is big, so I’m preparing as hard as I can to get ready.”
He will sure have his hands full with the hard-hitting Argentinean Maidana. Although he lost a close 12 round split decision in his last fight in February to Andriy Kotelnik, Maidana has stopped 24 opponents in his 25 victories.
It is something that Ortiz knows he will have to prepare for. After studying video of Maidana, he is ready and accepts that challenge.
“He’s powerful and a good fighter. It’s going to be a hard, good fight. I know he is ready and will be at his best and I’m going to be ready.”
Preparing and honing his skills at Warriors Gym in Ventura, Ortiz did not take time off from the Arnaoutis fight. He want back in the gym and has been preparing for this fight for the last two months. He is currently at 148 pounds.
And it is in the gym where he has made huge strides since turning pro at 17 years of age. After a standout amateur career, Ortiz fought in bouts where he weighed in at the Lightweight limit and even as recently as last year, at the Welterweight limit.
In his last three bouts, he has since set his sights on the 140-pound division. He wants to be a major player in the division, but how long is his or anybody’s guess.
“The 140-pound division is great. As far as me staying in this division, I can’t tell the future. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”
Much has been documented about Ortiz’ troubled past. Ortiz was abandoned by his parents in Kansas, where he was originally from. Ortiz took responsibility of his younger brother, Temoc and even had to move in with his older sister in Denver.
To say that Ortiz had to grow up quickly is an understatement. However, he has matured and has handled his responsibilities well as an older brother and as a guardian.
Although the pain of his parents abandoning him with something he wishes on anyone, he has come to peace with himself and his past.
“For a long time growing up, I thought about hating and being mad forever. But, I realized it’s just dumb to think that way. I know that I grew up rough, but it’s made me a stronger person and the person I am now. If they (parents) offer and extend their hand, I will shake it. I will forgive, but I will not forget. I have people around me that is my true family. That’s my brother and my girlfriend, Kylie.”
Aside from his personal life, Ortiz is comfortable and content with his professional career. Ortiz had a very ugly fallout with manager Cameron Dunkin and with Top Rank. Ortiz declared bankruptcy to have his contract voided. When the bankruptcy case was finalized in court, Ortiz then signed with Golden Boy Promotions.
Having now fought four fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, Ortiz is satisfied with where he is as a professional.
“I’m a lot happier. I have a great team around me and they are people that I respect. If I have something to say, they will listen to you. They may not agree, but at least they will listen. My previous people were the complete opposite.”
Despite what Ortiz has faced in his professional career, it is nothing to what he has faced in personal life. Ortiz may not be the most perfect person, but he has learned from his past.
He has become a fan favorite because of his friendly personality, eager to sign an autograph or take a picture with a fan. His mellow demeanor has also made him a favorite to the media, whom he is always ready for quick quotes on him or on boxing.
The book about Ortiz’ life has been quite interesting. Full of ups and downs. Still, many more chapters about his personal and professional life are yet to be written.
Hopefully, the chapter Ortiz hopes to write on Saturday night ends with his arm raised and a belt around his waist.