VENTURA, CALIF.-Victor Ortiz finally returns to the boxing ring after 19 months away.
“It was torture,” said Ortiz.
The torture is over as Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 Kos) prepares to meet former world champion Luis Collazo (34-5, 17 Kos) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday, June 30. The fight will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
While away, the Ventura-based ex-champion was a Hollywood favorite and participated in the reality dance show “Dancing With The Stars” and more recently worked on the motion picture set of “The Expendables 3” with Sylvester Stallone.
“Sylvester Stallone called me up one day,” said Ortiz. “He really likes boxing.”
Filming took place in Bulgaria and Ortiz became very good friends with fellow cast member Ronda Rousey.
“She’s like my sister.. we had the same birthdays, she’s like my twin except she’s a lot meaner than me. She’s amazing, she’s awesome, she’s champion of the world, who else is better to look up than someone like that,” said Ortiz at his Ventura boxing gym. “I don’t know if she told you this, but she’s as strong as she can be. She taught me some things. I taught her some things, but ultimately I think she had the better half.”
Both ran together and trained in the gym when filming was stopped. While in Bulgaria they saw political battling on the streets of Sofia.
“I got to experience this riot thing because of their parliament being overthrown. I’ve never seen anything like that. It was a heck of an experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Ortiz.
He also enjoyed meeting the A-list cast members too.
“I got to spend some great time with celebrities, like Mel Gibson, to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Randy Couture,” said Ortiz, who partook in his first movie role. “They found me through boxing. They love boxing. Sylvester contacted me so we got it situated. We got it done. Gersh is my new agency.”
Now, the former WBC welterweight champion is returning to the prize ring. Ortiz hasn’t fought since battling Josesito Lopez back in June 2012.
“I’ve definitely missed boxing. During the break I didn’t watch boxing at all. I’d watch some welterweights and I’d be ‘dude lets change the channel.’ I didn’t want to watch it,” said Ortiz, 26. “I wanted no part of it because I couldn’t do it. My jaw was snapped and for me it was like a heartache to sit there watching two guys I know I could beat.”
Ortiz returns to face Brooklyn’s Collazo in his hometown in a battle of southpaws. Facing a hostile crowd doesn’t faze him.
“If you’re unstoppable, you’re going to be unstoppable no matter where. Here, or China, or New York. My thing is this: I’m ready,” Ortiz says.
A familiar face appeared in the gym during the early arrivals to the Ventura gym; it was boxing trainer Danny Smith, who formerly trained Fernando Vargas.
“This is our first fight together,” said Smith, who visited Ortiz in Bulgaria to get to know the welterweight champion. “Victor is a straight-forward fighter.”
Smith said he knows Collazo’s style very well and respects his skill set. He also heard that the Brooklyn southpaw intends to test Ortiz early.
“We expect a 12-round war,” said Smith.
Ortiz trained at high-speed during the workout session and entertained a crowd of 30 people who visited him. Every so often Ortiz would break out into a war cry, “And the new WBA champion!”
Finally, after a double speed rope session Ortiz walked over and calmly said: “The welterweight division is going to be in a lot of trouble.”