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Dr. Jekyll and Senor Ortiz

Story by Francisco Salazar
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Based on the ring performances in the last couple of years, Victor Ortiz could easily be described as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

There was the knockout loss he suffered at the hands of interim world title holder Marcos Maidana at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles almost two years ago.

Within one year after the Maidana loss, Ortiz scored three consecutive victories over so-so competition in Antonio Diaz, Hector Alatorre, and former world title holder Nate Campbell. Ortiz was not necessarily stellar in victory in each fight, but did what was necessary to be victorious.

Then there was last September’s bout against Vivian Harris, a dangerous hard-hitting former world titlist who not would give Ortiz problems, but also had the possibility to win the bout.

Not only did Ortiz beat Harris, but did so in dominant fashion, dropping Harris four times in earning the third round stoppage victory.

Then there was the disappointing 10 round majority decision draw against Lamont Peterson in December. It was disappointing in that Ortiz was in control of the bout early, even dropping Peterson twice in the third round, but could not finish him off.

Despite the result in the Peterson fight, there are some members of the media who favor him to defeat welterweight world title holder Andre Berto on Saturday night at the Foxwoods Casino Resort in Mashantucket, CT. The bout will be televised on HBO’s “World Championship Boxing,” along with the same-day telecast of the Amir Khan-Paul McCloskey bout in Manchester, England.

Ortiz is going up in weight to challenge Berto, although he will physically be the bigger of the two fighters in the ring on Saturday. It will be an advantage that Ortiz will have, but not solely rely on when he squares off against the unbeaten Berto.

Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) will come in shape as he spent three months training for the fight at Knuckleheads Gym in Ventura, CA. Known as a gym rat amongst boxing circles, Ortiz had strong sparring from local fighters.

“I was sparring with (super welterweight) Francisco Santana from Santa Barbara,” Ortiz told recently. “He was the most powerful and quickest fighter I trained against for this fight because he challenged me physically and mentally. I listened to my trainer and I prepared to the best of my ability for this fight.”

Ortiz is confident that the work he put in during training camp will pay off for him on Saturday night.

“I just trained hard like I always do.”

Saturday’s bout will bring together two of the best young fighters today, talent-wise to the ring. Although both fighters possess top-level skills, both have yet to have that career-defining fight. Because of their boxer-puncher styles, maybe that could occur before the thousands in attendance at Foxwoods and a large television audience here and abroad.

Since the Maidana fight, media and boxing insiders have questioned Ortiz’s heart; and not putting in consistent performances before and after the Harris fight. Although the criticism has been heavy and maybe at times unfair, Ortiz does not even acknowledge it.

“I don’t pay any attention to the media. I know what I want and I’m just ready for Saturday night.”

Even after the Berto-Ortiz fight was made, much was publicized about the fight not having a venue or city to take place. Cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Miami were mentioned before Lou DiBella, Berto’s promoter, reached an agreement with Foxwoods.

Although Golden Boy Promotions, Ortiz’s promoter, is involved in the promotion of the fight, DiBella is the main promoter behind the “East-West Showdown” card.

With the fight up in the air at the time, it did not faze Ortiz from the planning and preparation for the fight.

“To be honest, I didn’t care where the venue was. As long as the title is on the line and Berto and I are in the same ring, I didn’t mind. I could care less if the fight is in Berto’s or his promoter’s backyard. It did not frustrate me even though I had no idea.”

Ortiz was in a deep division amongst 140-pound world title holders and contenders. "Was" is the word, for Ortiz's fight against Peterson was his last at 140 pounds. Win, more importantly, or lose, Ortiz is planning on making the welterweight division his new home.

“I’m going to stay at 147 pounds and keep the title.”

Strong words from Ortiz, considering less than two years ago, Ortiz appeared too “happy” after his loss to Maidana. Then again, outside of the ring, Ortiz has been known to be charismatic and friendly to members of the media and to fight fans.

Still, the question begs to be asked by those tuning in on Saturday night: Will we see the Victor Ortiz, who lived up to his nickname “Vicious” in September against Harris? Or the Ortiz who appeared headed to victory against Maidana and Peterson, only to have disappointing results?

Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.

"Vicious" Victor or just plain ol' Victor?


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