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An Apology To Victor Ortiz...WOODS

BY Michael Woods ON June 30, 2011
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MayweatherOrtizNYPC_Hoganphotos2He was smiling in this instant. But Ortiz harbors bitterness at how he was treated after his high profile defeat at the hands of Marcos Maidana. He railed against the media for negativity on Tuesday, and seems to be channeling his ire contructively. (Hogan)

On Tuesday afternoon New York City press conference to hype his Sept. 17 clash against Floyd Mayweather, Victor Ortiz spent about a half an hour fielding questions from the press after the theatrical portion of the presser ended. Ortiz' mood was curious to me. One might've thought the 24 year old Kansas native would be on cloud nine as he soaked up the attention ahead of his career signature fight which will earn him a pretty payday, and the opportunity to knock off a legend.

But Ortiz wasn't kickin' back on a cloud. He was not surly exactly, but close to that.

As I posed questions, and listened to him, my mind wandered as I tried to come up with one word to describe his mood, his behavior. As I pondered, I heard Ortiz, just off a semi stunner of a win over Andre Berto, the WBC welterweight champion, talk about how hurt he was by all of those who wrote him off when he lost to Marcos Maidana in June 2009. His face registered sadness, bitterness.

"Golden Boy believed in me when I fell, when I fell off the surface of the earth, and everybody didn't even talk to me," he said. "I was just like, alright, I rebuilt myself..."

This looked like a kid with a chip on his shoulder, actually more like a boulder-sized chip. He talked about how he got no credit for five wins after the Maidana fight, which drew much attention because the 22-year-old Ortiz quit in round six, shook his head no thanks to the ref after being battered and knocked down in the round, and then offered a surprising explanation to Max Kellerman for the development afterwards. "I was hurt... I'm not gonna go out on my back...I'm gonna stop while I'm ahead, that way I can speak well while I'm older...We'll see what happens from here on out. I'm young but I don't think I deserve to be getting beat up like this. I have a lot of thinking to do."

He smiled and laughed during the interview, which struck some as strange. Didn't this kid hate losing? Why isn't he acting like we expect the favored prospect, who has been presented as a certain future star, to act? We asked these questions, and we judged.

We, the media, tossed around labels. People wrote that he was a quitter, that he had no heart. Not across the board, some folks took the long view, and reminded us that a  career can have a bumpy arc, ups and downs. But they were savage on the message boards, and, as Ortiz told us in NY, it wasn't just the media that affixed him with a scarlet "Q," and treated him like a leper with AIDS in 1983. Friends, supposed friends, steered clear of him, dodged him, turned up their noses at him. Fellow boxers aimed barbs at him, as well.

A good twenty minutes into the grilling session, a writer more clever and quick than I came up with a word that fit Victor's mood well. "Fatalistic," he called Victor, as he asked him where his head was at.

Pretty good description for the guy who used a variation of "I don't know" or "I don't care" a bunch of times during the interview period.

I found myself believing a tiny bit that maybe this kid could shock the world, not just the boxing world, by beating Mayweather, as I realized more and more that he was channeling all the rage and frustration at being dissed and dismissed following the Maidana win, and using those emotions to  motivate himself. "I've always been told what I can and cannot do. Who are you to tell me what to do, how to do it, and why? My mind is set, my heart's there..according to everybody I don't have any, but whatever."

And I found myself chastened. I found myself silently apologizing to Ortiz for our tendency, as a body, to go overboard in criticism. For too easily questioning a man's heart. For too easily labeling him a quitter. The kid, and he was a kid, he was just 22, came up short against Maidana. Lord, I am ashamed to recount the stupid stuff I was doing at age 22. He was in the arena, shedding the blood, testing himself to the max. And yes, he didn't transcend in that moment when he was given the chance to transcend. But considering where he'd come from, considering that he'd been abandoned by his mom at age 7, and his father five years after, that he'd bounced around foster homes, it was something of a marvel that he advanced athletically to the point of being a shining prospect. It was rather amazing that he'd not been a mere statistic.

Don't you remember him talking about his father smacking him and his sister around after he came home from working a shift at Burger King, shirt splattered with grease? That his dad accused him of being out causing trouble, and then whacked him after Victor told him he should try a real job? I think we, many of us, didn't give Ortiz enough credit getting to the arena, instead of landing in jail, or wallowing in a pool of self pity, and fading into a state of anonymity.

Ortiz helped me come to this realization as he recounted flying in a Lear jet with his brother, and reveling in the moment, the reality that he had soared a million miles above his sad and scary youth.

"Destiny has taken me where I'm at. I'm not letting go, I don't care because sincerely, I don't give an eff, about what anybody says about me," he told us.

His eyes flashed with defiance, understandable coming from one who really was projected to be a mere statistic, instead of a world champion. "I'm there to fight. I'm going to leave it all in the ring. Although I don't have balls or heart, this whole area said (he pointed to the press), I'm definitely going to leave it all in the ring."

Ortiz kept going back at the media, and while there are times I dismiss shots at us from folks who tend to heap the world's woes on us, who tar and feather us for all ills, this wasn't one of those times. "The media will always find something negative to say," he said. "Media is over here, I'm over here, I'm doing my thing, I'm world champion, I'm going to be world champion for a long time."

After Ortiz finished with the media, I tapped him, and whispered in his ear.

"Victor, you were right. We, the media, were hard on you. We did do what you said. Sometimes we are too negative. And I apologize for having done that. And I will apologize to you on The Sweet Science."

He thanked me.

So here it is. Sometimes we are too quick with the labels, too quick to judge, not careful enough to make clear that our analysis has to do with the actions of an athlete, and shouldn't veer toward a condemnation of them personally. Sorry, Victor.

Now, I don't think you will beat Floyd. Nothing personal, he is among the best that ever was. But I respect you for how far you have come, the heart and guts you showed to get to this place. You are a shining example to every kid who was treated like dirt by a parent, every kid who was abandoned.

Good luck on September 17, sir.

Comment on this article

Radam G says:

Vicious Victor O may just be the one who is gonna to demythologized Money May and da shoulder roll. You have so many know nothings who think that the old-arse shoulder roll is all that and a bag of chips. There is an easy way -- a very easy way -- to beat it. The training genius Garcia brothers have cut out their rivalry jive and are coming back together to hatch a plan that is going to whup Money May's arse. Bittin' off da words of da Donputo69: "You heard it here, first! Holla back, ladies! Holla!

brownsugar says:

Woods is gettin better like fine wine.. excellent article.. I lean a bit towards Radam in that I think that Maybe....Just Maybe Ortiz might have his number.. but it won't be the demythofication of Mayweather.. it would be the Deification of Ortiz as father-time and too much inactivity claims yet another victim......... If floyd does go down I guarantee he'll going down fighting...... giving all he's got..... still... wouldn't miss it for the world!!!!!

amayseng says:

good article.

we are too quick to react and judge others... 22 is a very young age...

shoot i didnt finish colllege until i was 27..

people mature at different ages..

when this fight got made i felt floyd would out skill ortiz with ease...then i went back

and watched the hatton mayweather fight and saw how hatton wore down floyd at

times and at other times just suppressed his ability to flow, have a rythem and get

off...

here we have a stronger and bigger ortiz with much much more power against an

older, much older,,,,did u guys see floyds pic this past week? doesnt look very

youthful or healthy for that matter...

also, a floyd who is inactive..

for a guy who relies on speed and reflexes for timing aging is not a good thing....


so now, i think this fight is very intriguing...

Joe says:

Vicious may have gotten his head out of his ass. He showed me some stones versus Berto. This certainly isn't going to be a pushover fight for Money. I think he'll outclass Ortiz - but Victor is going to come to fight. ( I thought he (Ortiz) was trying too hard to look tough during the stare down - just sayin')

Joe says:

This is sounding more like wishful thinking versus sweet science accumen.......

ultimoshogun says:

Nice read, I was rooting for this kid the moment I heard his background story and like most of us here also had doubts if Ortiz was in the right line of work after the Maidana fight...it was good to see him bounce back from that loss, Mayweather will know he was in a fight come September.

deepwater says:

Why would you say sorry?you were just doing your job.ortiz quit and gave up when he was tested by maidana. It deserves to be talked about. sure he can come back and beat mayweather but you think it was unfair that people questioned him after he questioned himself? Something is wrong with the world when a reporter says sorry for doing his job.

deepwater says:

A=A. Reality is reality. An apple is an apple. an apple can not be both an apple and an orange at the same time. Ortiz quit in a very bad fashion. Ortiz questioned himself in the ring on tv after the fight. The reporters discussed these things. I can not freakin believe reporters are saying sorry for being negative!!!!!!! Please do you job objectivly without feeling sorry for fighters . The facts and just the facts. thank you .

deepwater says:

"I think we, many of us, didn't give Ortiz enough credit getting to the arena, instead of landing in jail, or wallowing in a pool of self pity, and fading into a state of anonymity." Oh BOY.... So if your daddy is mean to you or your mama has a drinking problem it gives you the excuse to do crime? oh boy. maybe the guy in suffolk that shot those four innocent people for drugs doesnt really deserve to be in trouble because his daddy smaked him after he came home from work with a greasy shirt. maybe the guy that raped the girl in the city has an excuse because his daddy smaked him around. lets give ortiz credit for not killing or raping anyone because he probably should have because his homelife sucked. great job.

Shoulder Roll Defense says:

I like the fact that Ortiz has persevered and over come obstacles inside and outside the ring. However, he is biting off more than he can chew in fighting Mayweather jr. Floyd is 34, but it remains to be seen if he has reached the end of his prime, but we shall soon see. Ortiz, said if Floyd wants to box, he will out box him. He must be talking out his a$$ because his mouth knows better lol. People seem to forget that what makes Floyd great is his boxing IQ and his ability to adjust to the style in front of him. When he fights a boxer smaller or slower than him such as Marquez or Baldomir, he primarily utlizes the "shoulder roll." However, against fighters that are southpaw (Judah) or have fast hands (Mosley) he mainly uses the traditional orthodox high guard stance. Youtube those fights if you don't have them in your collection and you will see what I am talking about. The only thing that will beat Floyd inside of the ring if he stays in the fight game too long is "Father Time." I hope Floyd is good on his word and fights Manny next. After he beats Manny he should retire and agressively get into Promotions. @ Radam: There is no mythology regarding the "shoulder roll" method of defense. Two of the best defensive boxers of this era have utilized it to perfection and are future hall of fame inductees (James Toney & Floyd Mayweather Jr.). Floyd Mayweather jr., Pernell Whitaker, and James Toney are the best defensive boxers of this generation. Holler!

Radam G says:

The shoulder roll, aka the Philly CRAP -- I mean crab style -- /Philly shell style is easy to beat. But Fam May has been great in selling it in the propaganda and pubic -- I mean public -- relations arenas. Vicious Victor O is gonna shift punch Money May's aging head off. No amount of jive-turkey ____ lives forever. And Pernell Whitaker was no shoulder roller, so don't try that big LIE! But he did beat the ____ outta shoulder rollers, including Uncle Roger May. Sweet Pea was a bob-and-weaver, shift-puncher fighter, who loved spending opponent, punching down their trunks and Texas Tony punchind da quick holy sh** outta 'em. No faking about da game here, because those in da know will have you shaking, and then gettin' on your snaking outta of unrighteous spittin.' In the amateur, Sweet Pete use to eat Philly shell-style fighters for dinner. Holla!

Shoulder Roll Defense says:

The shoulder roll, aka the Philly CRAP -- I mean crab style -- /Philly shell style is easy to beat. But Fam May has been great in selling it in the propaganda and pubic -- I mean public -- relations arenas. Vicious Victor O is gonna shift punch Money May's aging head off. No amount of jive-turkey ____ lives forever. And Pernell Whitaker was no shoulder roller, so don't try that big LIE! But he did beat the ____ outta shoulder rollers, including Uncle Roger May. Sweet Pea was a bob-and-weaver, shift-puncher fighter, who loved spending opponent, punching down their trunks and Texas Tony punchind da quick holy sh** outta 'em. No faking about da game here, because those in da know will have you shaking, and then gettin' on your snaking outta of unrighteous spittin.' In the amateur, Sweet Pete use to eat Philly shell-style fighters for dinner. Holla!


Read my post again, I put the two best "shoulder rollers" of this generation in parenthesis (James Toney & Floyd Mayweather Jr.). However, the three best over all defensive fighters of this generation are Sweet Pea, Money May, and Lights Out. Holler!

Radam G says:

I read it! You implied that with those dangling participles. My BAD! I guess I better do a double take. And even a triple shake. I respect your opinion, but I don't completely agree. Sweet Pea is definitely the BEST! But "Macho Time" Camacho got hit five time less than Lights Out Toney and at least TWO times less than Money May. Maybe you better holla at the punch stats. Da Macho Man was nobody's whippin' pole. I won't even holla the third best, because he's so underrated by haters. NO! I change my knowin'-my-syet mind. The THIRD ONE is Don "Texas Cobra" Curry. One couldn't hit the prime Curry with buckshots shot at any distance. Holla!

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