Life Is Like a Box of Ortiz; You Never Know What You're Gonna Get
by D. Jeremiah Trella
BROOKLYN, NY -- Boxing analyst Larry Merchant has often been fond of saying that boxing is "the theater of the unexpected". Last night at the Barclays Center, we saw that sage maxim illustrated once again ... except this was one of those times when that which was unexpected prior to the opening bell seems in hindsight like it should not have been so unexpected after all.
Ortiz was the slight favorite and Collazo the slight underdog. But the reason why Ortiz was not a heavier favorite was presumably because of the fact that he hadn't fought in 18 months since Josesito Lopez broke Ortiz's jaw and made Ortiz quit on his stool due to the injury. I personally felt Ortiz's decision not to continue in that fight was justified. While it is true that some legendary fighters like Muhammad Ali fought through nearly an entire 12-round fight with a broken jaw, not all broken jaws are equal (it depends where & how severe the break is), and it seemed like Ortiz couldn't even close his mouth (which would have left him a sitting duck for a violent KO).
Those analysts and fans who were critical of Ortiz quitting against Josesito Lopez saw the decision to retire on his stool as a character flaw because it wasn't the first time Ortiz had told a referee he'd had enough. After successfully getting up from a knockdown against the hard-punching Marcos Maidana in 2009 (in a fight that Ortiz was winning by several points on the scorecards), Ortiz did his own version of "no más", giving Maidana one of the signature wins of his career.
So while most of us including myself thought the reason for Ortiz being only a slight favorite was due to bettors' concerns about ring rust from a long layoff, perhaps it was instead indicative of the fact that Ortiz is unpredictable and mercurial.
When Victor Ortiz steps into the ring you never know what version of Victor Ortiz you are going to get.
Will you get vintage Ortiz: the man who steamrolled Mike Aranoutis in 2 rounds and who got off the canvas twice -- and put his opponent down twice -- in a barnburner of a fight against Andre Berto, in a spectacular exhibition of heart and courage? ...
... *OR* ... Will you get the Ortiz who lacks mental fortitude? The Ortiz who quit against Maidana and said to Max Kellerman in the post-fight interview that he was too young to be taking such punishment (implying that he might've been able to come through the pain to get the win but simply did not want to because it would be unpleasant)? ... the Ortiz who seemingly let off the gas pedal and let a surefire win slip away in an uninspired performance resulting in a majority draw versus Lamont Peterson?
Last night, we got the latter version although it wasn't apparent at the opening bell. Ortiz came out looking in fantastic shape for a man who in the past had squeezed to make Welterweight and who had spent over 18 months out of the ring. While he looked to be more active in the first stanza against Collazo, clearly winning the round ... in Round 2, Victor Ortiz faced the first (and only) moment of adversity, which proved to be a moment of truth. In that critical moment, Ortiz proved all his critics right.
A short, compact, perfectly-thrown counter right hook from Luis Collazo hit Ortiz flush on the chin and sent him to the canvas. Ortiz remained on his knees as referee Benjy Esteves Jr. picked up the count. While Ortiz had his head up and was not ostensibly wobbling to and fro whilst on his knees, he made no overt attempt to rise to his feet, seemingly content to let the fight end by staying down for the duration of the 10-count (or if not content, then at least preferring an embarrassing 2nd round KO loss to the relentless onslaught from Luis Collazo that surely would have been coming in Round 3 had he chosen to get up).
Brooklyn native Luis Collazo did his fans proud on Thursday night, making all 8,050 of them glad they chose to brave the frigid weather to come cheer him on. After the fight Collazo invited Floyd Mayweather to meet him in Brooklyn, and if Collazo is going to keep delivering performances like this when fighting in front of his hometown crowd, it doesn't sound like a bad fight considering some of the other names being floated as future Floyd opponents.
In the co-feature event, Eddie Gomez improved to 16-0 (10 KOs), earning a unanimous decision win over the previously undefeated Daquan Arnett, who dropped to 11-1. After a low-action first round where the combatants mostly "felt each other out" and a quiet start to the second round, the fight was beginning to elicit some boos from the crowd until Gomez brought the restless fans to their feet with a hard left hand that staggered Arnett and drew exhortations of "EDD-IE, EDD-IE, EDD-IE" from the Bronx contingent of the crowd who followed him across town. Gomez went on to handle his opponent comfortably, nearly stopping him in the 7th with a left hook to the liver that felled Arnett -- though Arnett showed great heart in getting up from that shot and hung on to hear the final bell
Gary Russell Jr. kicked off the live television portion of the card. Once again it was a familiar refrain with Russell: the incredibly fast, hard-punching southpaw, seemingly possessed of elite skills, in yet another glorified sparring session against a hopelessly outmatched & outclassed opponent.
This month's poor hand-picked victim was Miguel Tamayo (15-8-2) who came into last night's fight having lost 4 out of his last 6 fights. It's 5 out of his last 7 now, as Russell at least did what he was supposed to do and put on a clinic (albeit a brief one), stopping Tamayo in the 4th round, a solid performance in his Big Apple debut.
Fans who see the promise in Russell grow impatient for greater stakes -- last week marked his 5th year as a professional. We can only hope to see 2011's consensus Prospect of the Year finally fighting for a title his next time out and eventually mixing it up with the top names at (and around) Featherweight.
Last edited by D. Jeremiah Trella; 02-01-2014 at 09:19 AM.