The promo clip had bounced around inboxes of even causal fight fans.
You gotta check out this Victor Ortiz kid, he’s got a helluva story, and he’s a future superstar, maybe the heir to Oscar, people were saying.
But in the first round of his fight with Marcos Maidana at the Staples Center in LA on Saturday, it looked like we’d need to find another young gun to emerge and replace the bevy of vets who have exited the game or are on the cusp of hanging up the gloves. Maidana dropped Ortiz, and the kid was on suspect legs. Would he regroup, and show that the hype was justified?
He would not, though that doesn’t mean he was simply a hype job, an HBO/Golden Boy creation. Because Maidana owns some legitimately heavy hands, which he used to dole out a whole heap of punishment on Ortiz. The heavy underdog finished off a cut, fatigued Ortiz in the sixth, as the referee Raul Caiz Sr. lobbied the ringside physician that Ortiz was in no condition to continue, after the fighter himself turned away and indicated he was inclined to quit when the ref asked him if was OK. The end came at :46 of the sixth, in a fight will get some votes for fight of the year, deservedly so for the first two rounds, in which Ortiz went down once, and Maidana hit the mat three times.
In the first, Maidana (26-1, with 25 KOs; age 25; from Argentina), who won the interim WBA super lightweight crown, came out aggressively. The lefty Ortiz (24-2-1) scoped him out, and ate a solid right coming in. But he regrouped and dropped Maidana with a right hook. Then Maidana dropped Ortiz (age 22; born in Kansas, lives in CA; 139 3/4) with a right, short and sweet. His legs looked shaky. He held, and fired back, and then held again.
In the second, Maidana looked to blast with his right. Ortiz pawed with a jab, not the mark of a future superstar. His hands were low, as he ate two rights. Maidana moved a bit more than we’d seen on tape, early on, but that was probably because Ortiz moves more than most of his victims. A counter right, in close, dropped Maidana, just after he got buzzed. Ortiz scored another knock, with another short right, with 10 seconds to go. Two rounds, four knockdowns.
In the third, both men were throwing with vile intentions. Ortiz again got buzzed, but surprise, surprise, no one went down in the third.
In the fourth, the action settled down a notch, as a sliver of fatigue touched the fighters. But Maidana still invested fully in his offense, though he finished the round quietly, and one wondered if he was slightly spent. In round five, Ortiz slight edge in hand speed worked for him. The two would throw at the same time, and Ortiz’ hands would get there first. A cut formed on Ortiz’ right eye with a minute to go, after a furious trading session. The right hand of Maidana was on target, and Ortiz’ defense needed shoring up, ASAP. Could the next big thing dig down deep?
In the sixth, Maidana came out nasty. He sent Ortiz down off a combo. “You OK son? Let's go,” the ref said to Ortiz. The fighter turned away, and shook his head, his body language screaming that he wanted no more of Maidana's inflictions. The ref, picking up on Ortiz' mindset, sent Ortiz to the doc, and suggested to the doctor that he halt the bout. The doctor agreed, not liking the look of the cut, and the ref halted the event. The crowd was stunned, silent and depressed.
Maidana went 66-293, and Ortiz went 74-177 on the night.
After, Maidana said Ortiz has heavy hands. He told Max Kellerman he was well prepared, and ready for a tough bout.
Tip of the TSS cap to Golden Boy and HBO for putting Ortiz in tough. Good work, lads, keep it up. A rematch makes much sense. Maidana can fight the Andriy Kotelnik/Amir Khan (July 18) winner if he wants. For the record, Kotelnik gave Maidana his lone loss, a SD in Febuary. That fight was a title defense for Kotelnik, a German resident, and it took place in Germany.
Ortiz said afterwards he thought it might be a short night. He gave Maidana props, with a grin, and said, “He does pack some power behind his punches. Hey, it just wasn’t one of those nights. Congratulations to him. “ His left eye was puffed, his right eye cut, yet he was able to smile.
He said the crowd, the hype, got to him. “I fought really dumb…it was my mistake, not my coaches’, nobody else but myself, nothing but the best to him,” Ortiz said. Overall, he tried too hard to impose his power on Maidana, he admitted.
And he’d like to retain his faculties in his graybeard years, he said, so he will think long and hard about his future. “I’m young, but I don’t think I deserve to be beat up like this. I have a lot of thinking to do,” he said in closing.
That he does. While no one could fault him for contemplating quitting, he did indicate a No Mas in the final round, and then after the bout said he is not the sort to go out on his shield. In Europe, it is said, that “out on the shield” mentality isn't a pre-requisite for superstardom, but the same standards aren't in play here in other locales. There will be judgment heaped on Ortiz, for sure. But what say we all take a deep breath, and see what Ortiz says after he's had a chance to chew on the fight and his effort. Preliminarily, though, one senses he is conflicted about his place in the sport, and deserves ample time to sort it all out.
Stay tuned for David Avila’s full ringside report….