Victor Ortiz Must Choose His Identity
A few observations about the Victor Ortiz-Josesito Lopez fight from last night:
When I look at Victor Ortiz, I see a confused fighter. A fighter who suffers from an identity crisis every single time he climbs into the ring. Whether this is his own doing, or that of his trainer, Danny Garcia, remains unclear. What is clear to me however, is that technical flaws in his game are the primary reason behind his recent lapses. Ortiz lacks discipline in the ring, not heart. Yes, Muhammad Ali may have continued with a broken jaw against Ken Norton, but come on, we are talking about Muhammad Ali here , whose toughness -when his career was all said and done- may have even eclipsed his talent. Besides, Ali later admitted to not knowing his jaw was indeed broken. Had he known, he later declared, then he too would have quit on his stool.
No, I don't blame Ortiz for quitting on his stool last night. Nor do I blame him for opting not to continue when confronted with a marauding Marcos Maidana, who was putting such a beating on a young fighter, that no good could possibly have came from it -not in victory,not in defeat. The blame lies elsewhere.
At the highest level, I believe boxing comes down to geometry. Of course, there are more tangibles involved in the sweet science than just technical expertise, but last night, as I have done every time when watching Victor Ortiz, I saw technical deficiencies in a young fighter.
Firstly, Victor Ortiz is a converted southpaw. His right hand, which is his lead hand, is his dominant hand. Last night, Ortiz resembled a southpaw, his stance was the same, but the substance within the style was missing. Ortiz came out boxing behind his jab, a weapon I've seldom seen from him. If a southpaw is to box behind his jab, he should be circling counter-clockwise, looking to plant his lead foot outside of an orthodox fighters lead foot. Ortiz failed to do so on many occasion last night. Throughout the fight, Ortiz found himself moving onto his orthodox opponent's right hand. Not that Lopez bothered to throw it much. In all honesty, I'm not sure I've seen a southpaw defeated where the straight right hand featured so little. Lopez didn't need it. Also, being a converted fighter, Ortiz struggles to achieve any real snap when he throw his left hand. Ortiz tends to push is out, rather than launch it with any real conviction. Have you ever tried throwing something with your weaker hand? Something just doesn't feel right does it? I sense that Ortiz goes through this every time he throws his straight left. He goes through the motions with it, but he is not comfortable throwing it. It just doesn't feel natural. Neither does syncing his upper body with his lower body. So many times during fights,Ortiz finds himself with his left leg in front of his right leg. Ortiz is right handed....he's probably also right footed.
Unlike true southpaws, Ortiz' primary weapon is actually his right hook. In there lies the problem. In order to land it, Ortiz has to concede his southpaw stance to throw it. This is the reason why you see Ortiz square himself up to an opponent over and over again. Lopez did his homework. That's why the uppercut and left hook worked a treat last night. Every time Ortiz closed the distance, Lopez would position himself to throw his right uppercut, which then created the perfect angle for his left hook outside of Ortiz' line of vision. Ortiz, with his feet parallel with his shoulders, could only defend himself with his jaw.
It's not just in technique where Ortiz seems to lose his discipline neither. Take another look at the shot that ended the fight for Ortiz. It landed flush on Ortiz' jaw, who just happened to have his mouth wide open. As I'm sure you are all aware, this is a big no no in boxing. I bet there's boxing trainers all over the world scratching their heads at the fact that an elite fighter could make such an amateurish mistake.
"Vicious" Victor Ortiz is not a bad fighter, but he, or his trainer,needs to decide what works best for him. His best performance was against Andre Berto, a fight where Ortiz didn't really bother working behind a jab. He swarmed and pressured Berto into a fight. Last night, looking to box behind his jab, Ortiz appeared lost in translation. Let's take nothing away from Lopez, who fought a fantastic fight. He took advantage of the gaping holes in Ortiz' arsenal, and made them work to his advantage. But for me, this was all about what Ortiz failed to do, rather than what Lopez managed to do. Truth be told, the fight was close, which suggests that all is not entirely lost with Ortiz, even if his proposed super fight with Canelo Alvarez seems to be.
However, Ortiz' lack of discipline needs addressing and fast.He must choose his true identity: Is he a boxer? Is he a slugger?
If he can iron out the technical flaws, then maybe nobody will get the chance to question Ortiz' heart again.