The Boxing Writers Association of America counted the ballots for its year-end awards on Monday night, and the results were announced on Tuesday afternoon. Floyd Mayweather, "Money," hit the jackpot as Fighter of the Year, while Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov shared honors for Fight of the Year. There was no award for Fighter Who Gets Most Flak on Twitter, but I dare say one of the guys who headlines the Golden Boy card at the Barclays Center on Thursday night, Victor Ortiz, would be odds-on favorite to snag that "honor" if it were added to the awards roster.
Let me get it out of the way, right up front, that I really don't participate in the social media critiques of Ortiz, and can't support them, by and large, because he's a fighter who engages in fan-friendly battles, and he provides good entertainment value whenever he gloves up.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old California resident who meets Brooklyner Luis Collazo in a welterweight tussle in BK, has been absent from the ring since his June 2012 battle against Josesito Lopez. That bout resulted in a loss for Ortiz, and a lengthy layoff, as Lopez broke his jaw and that injury needed to heal up. The night of that bout, the nattering nabobs of negativism hammered Ortiz for being a "quitter," unfairly, as they played doctor from their sofa, and determined that the boxer spit the bit and waved a flag of surrender.
"Victor Ortiz quits on the stool," the lead announcer bellowed as Ortiz, ahead on the cards, chose not to continue for Round 10. Now, there was a history there; Ortiz back in June 2009 was being battered by Marcos Maidana, and offered a "no mas" when the referee asked him if he wanted to continue.
"We just saw a moment in a fight that could define a fighters' career," one of the TV analysts offered. The southpaw hitter draw scorn in some circles for not "going out on his shield," and his explanation during a postfight in-the-ring interview that he was too young to absorb such brutal punishment, which could compromise his faculties down the line, rubbed some purists the wrong way. So, in some circles, Ortiz had been branded.
Eyebrows were raised not so much when the Kansas-born athlete took the opportunity to participate in Season 16 of "Dancing With the Stars," but Ortiz-bashers did note that his foray into dancing in March 2013 -- and acting, as he took a role in "The Expendables 3" late last year -- does suggest that he's more about non-boxing moves than pugilism. And pro-am comics had a field day with his entry into the skin-care business. "Fit For A Champion, Built For A Man's Man," reads the ad copy for the line, which is called "FaceLube," for which he is a spokesman. That vaguely (vaguely?) provocative moniker drew snickers galore, and added to the material naysayers utilize to try and take Ortiz down a peg.
I talked to the 29-4-2 (22 KOs) fighter during a media session at Gleason's Gym on Monday afternoon, and told him to his face that I believe he doesn't deserve to be critiqued so gleefully, and told him that I think it sometimes comes with the territory for people who take risks, drive outside the lines, and engage in YOLO behavior. I was curious, and asked the boxer if the critiques bother him.
Check back for part two, and hear what Ortiz had to say about the Twitter nitwits, and if he'll have to deal with a coating of rust against Collazo on Thursday night.