Though born of Mid-Western stock, Victor Ortiz has that laid back Southern California groove kind of lifestyle, more surf city than cornfield chucker.
He’s the kind of fighter you see more commonly in mixed martial arts than in the gritty hardboiled urban street bred boxers that the sport usually harbors.
A visit to his gym in Ventura reveals a wide spectrum of people that might be found on the beaches, barrios and Hollywood studios. The visitors chatter in English, Spanish and joke in ways that can’t be repeated on paper.
Ortiz is an anomaly.
The former welterweight world champion Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 Kos; glaring, on left, in above photo from Wednesday weigh-in) returns after a 19-month absence to face former world champion Luis Collazo (34-5, 17 Kos) tonight (Jan. 30). The fight takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Most of the sport likes to typecast fighters in certain categories and attitudes. Boxing has its tough guys, quiet boxers, family men and acerbic chatter boxes. But when it comes to Ortiz, he’s in a category that’s not easy to peg.
Throughout his career Ortiz has shown that he packs mind-numbing power. When the bell rings that power is fueled by lightning speed and an angry attitude that usually spells doom for anyone facing him. The left-handed power hitter has ended more than a few careers.
But, on the other hand, he can be the nicest guy. Once an opponent withstands the initial storm a sort of benevolent aura permeates the air and Ortiz slips into a Zen-like trance. It’s almost similar to a marathon runner slipping into automatic mode during the last 12 miles.
Ortiz has heard all of the remarks and criticisms.
“I’m 26 years old and not going anywhere,” said Ortiz, who turns 27 the day after the fight. “I was just taking a break and now I’m coming back.”
Ortiz may not have a win in more than two years, but when you have that semblance of speed and power; it’s just a matter of time.
Don’t be fooled by the Southern California cool and laid back surfer mentality. Underneath, there are riptides going on.
Skeptics and loudmouths are abundant especially in this day and age of electronic media outlets that allow people to hide behind a keyboard. Many will say he hid from boxing, but in reality, Ortiz did what any other prizefighter would love to do in making movies and appearing on television.
Remember Floyd Mayweather’s foray into Hollywood?
The only difference was Mayweather did not appear in a major motion picture like Ortiz.
“I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” says Ortiz who made friends with A-list actors and MMA fighters Ronda Rousey and Randy Couture. “It was incredible.”
Now it’s back to work and in reality it’s merely a tune up fight for the Southern California fighter. Or is it?
“I’m going in for the long haul. Whatever happened in his career that’s on him. He’ s got to deal with it mentally,” said Collazo, who has always had some tricks up his sleeve. “Come January 30 I’m going to try and take him out.”
“It made me sick to watch the welterweights on TV,” said Ortiz. “Now I’m here. I’m back. The welterweight division is in a lot of trouble. That’s it.”