Boxing: victor ortiz

What's next for Collazo?

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
The punch, the countout, the roar, the reaction, dropping to the canvas, soaking in the moment -- Luis Collazo's KO2 win over Victor Ortiz is on the short list of most monumental boxing moments at Barclays Center in the span of time since the building began hosting boxing in October 2012.

Collazo, a Williamsburg, Brooklyn resident who sipped from the golden cup back in 2005, when he beat Jose Rivera to snag the WBA welterweight title, clearly was surging with raw emotion after he proved something that more than a few fight game folks knew -- that he's a skilled fighter, and extremely underrated. Only a cold heart wasn't moved by the site of Collazo, pointing to the heavens, yet another example that boxing is a savior to many an at-risk being.

Last Monday, Paul Malignaggi's advisor, Anthony Catanzaro, told me that Collazo, who holds the WBA International 147 belt, is just about the most underrated boxer from New York, of all time. He simply hasn't been given the respect he should've, both on the judges' scorecards, when he fought aces Rocky Hatton, in 2007, and then rising star Andre Berto on 2009, and among even knowledgeable fight fans, Catanzaro told me.

There will be those who won't give the 32-year-old credit with this win. They'll note that Ortiz was coming off a broken jaw, and had been stopped in his last three bouts, by Floyd Mayweather, Josesito Lopez, and now Collazo. Some will say that Ortiz's heart and mind aren't fully focused on pugilism, and that he should seriously consider hanging up the gloves. Those points can't be dismissed flippantly. But the more fair tack to take is to give Collazo full credit, because his skills and his technique made that win possible. He set up a vicious, tight jawbreaker of a right hook, while Ortiz was starting to throw his own, too wide and too slow.

The natural question is, what's next for the Brooklyn boxer, who spoke movingly of his two younger brothers, who are locked up for criminal acts prior to the bout, and gained a load of fans who weren't aware of his skills or story. Collazo invited Floyd Mayweather, the "Money" man, to venture outside the safe confines of Las Vegas, and square off at Barclays. That'd be a lottery ticket win for Collazo. What about another New York hitter with a bevy of boxing skills who also campaigns at 147 -- Paul Malignaggi? Malignaggi told me he wouldn't want that fight. He's known Collazo forever, and respects the hell out of him. "Collazo is actually a friend of mine, I don't need any amount of money bad enough to fight a friend like that," he said.

Keith Thurman, who holds the WBA "regular" welterweight crown, is a better bet. Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz said after the bout that he likes that fight, that Team Collazo has discussed and has been open to meeting Thurman. He thinks the terms could be hashed out without excess drama.

Readers, your thoughts? How about a fight between Collazo, a role model for all souls looking to return to life's bigger stages, and Thurman, one of the strongest young titlists in the sport today?

Ringside at Barclays: Victor Ortiz, Part 2

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
Click here for Part 1 of the interview.

Victor Ortiz steps into the ring at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night, and by his account, he will be sharp, his timing will be on, and there will be no evidence to suggest that he last gloved up in a prizefight 19 months ago.

We shall see.

Boxing isn't quite like riding a bike; you can take time off, but to get all the cylinders, physical, mental, emotional, working in concert after being on the shelf because of an injury and outside commitments isn't a given.

I chatted with the California resident with a 29-4-2 record on Monday, and asked him if rust would be a factor when he tussled with fellow southpaw Luis Collazo at Barclays, in a fight which will likely earn the winner a title crack at a 147-pound crown.

Ortiz answered with a dark intensity, which suggested he had his game face affixed, and, perhaps, he is a tad tired of repetitive queries from fightwriters.

"There will be no ring rust," said the fighter, who turns 27 on Friday.

What about the possibility of being gun-shy, considering how his jaw was broken by Josesito Lopez in his last fight, a loss in which he retired after round nine?

"No gun-shyness, either," he stated, firmly. "You can ask my sparring partners, I put so many of them down."

Ortiz told me that he did some sparring a year after the Lopez fight, and this was not long after the wires to set his jaw were taken off. "What's wrong with me?" he said he asked himself, after getting hit with shots he didn't see coming. But after about six rounds of sparring, he said, his timing was back, his in-ring vision was restored.

In asking around, many fight-game folks told me they were surprised that Collazo, a skilled boxer, was chosen as Ortiz' first foe back. If Ortiz is rusty, Collazo could outbox him, take advantage of the rust by using superior ring generalship. Ortiz doesn't seem put off by the style matchup, though. When I asked if he thinks this is a 50-50 going in, he again answered with emphatic directness. "I don't see it as a 50-50 fight, I'm favoring myself."

Ortiz gets knocked on social media for this and that, and I asked if it bothers him, grinds him down. "If I took in all the opinions, I'd go crazy," he said. "I don't care."

We're all familiar with the term "hater," someone on a lower level who takes potshots at someone on a higher level, out of envy. Ortiz spoke of that sort. "When people judge me or my career, they haven't stood in my shoes," he noted. Case in point: instead of noting that Ortiz is branching out, and making the most of outside-the-ring opportunities, some people see his appearance in "The Expendables 3" as a possible warning sign that he isn't fully committed to the fight game. To be honest, that thought has crossed my mind. Boxing isn't the sort of endeavor which rewards dabbling.

Ortiz wouldn't go there, admits to craving another crack at Floyd Mayweather, and said his eyes were fully focused on Collazo, not a sequel to avenge a KO4 loss to "Money" in 2011.

My take: notwithstanding Ortiz's insistence that rust won't be a factor, none of us can be certain of that until we see some rounds play out tonight. Ortiz has a strength and power advantage, but Collazo has a technique edge. If Ortiz' timing is off, and he can't land heavy shots, he could get the short end of it from the judges.

Fox Sports 1 will show the fight.

In your FaceLube: Victor Ortiz, Part 1

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
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.

Malignaggi: Ortiz 'dug his own hole'

June, 26, 2012
By and large, I'm not a fan of anyone telling writers or analysts who are not ex-boxers that their judgments are suspect because they haven’t boxed. Fair to say I don’t think it detracts from Larry Merchant's efficacy that he didn’t go into prizefighting. There are loads of superb analysts calling NFL action, and boxing, and so on and so forth, who maybe topped out at Pop Warner, or schoolyard scraps. But on some occasions, I do think it is best left to those in the arena to weigh in, because the matter is so sensitive, so particular to the needed skill and mindset of a prizefighter. I can weigh in on whether or not I think Victor Ortiz is a “quitter,” for choosing to not start the 10th round against Josesito Lopez on Saturday night in L.A. because his jaw was busted ... but I think my opinion is not as valid as someone who has actually went through the same or quite similar experience in the ring.

So I reached out to Brooklyn's Paulie Malignaggi -- who looked the worse for wear, with a bloody nose, swollen right cheek, blood streaming from inside his mouth and his right orbital bone busted, into Round 9 and 10 of his 2006 fight with Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, but who fought on. He stubbornly willed himself to continue, to whatever the bitter end held for him, because he wouldn’t accept anything less from himself. He lost a unanimous decision, and needed time to heal up ... but he proved more in that loss, to himself, to the world, than he did in 30 other wins.

So, Paulie, does Ortiz deserve to be called a “quitter?”

“He dug his own hole,” Malignaggi told me. “He made his rep. I’m not saying this to punk him out, but he didn’t perform well under pressure. Now, people judge him harshly on this, and some say it’s unfair, this kid really did have an injury, and his jaw didn’t look good ... but it’s almost like the boy who cried wolf.

"I feel bad for Victor, all of us don’t have the same pain tolerance. And you don’t know what you’ll do till the situation occurs. In the moment, against Cotto, I felt like I had to fight through it, that’s me. You don’t know how you’ll react till you’re there. He’s 25, only a kid."

Malignaggi thought Ortiz's strategy left something to be desired, along with his will to overcome an immense physical obstacle. "Victor is very talented, he’s got the ability to use his boxing skills, but he takes the fights into the trenches when it has no business going there," he said. "But mentally, he could I think use a sports psychologist.”

Is Victor Ortiz a quitter?

June, 26, 2012
This new information age allows a lie, or just a super-straightforward opinion which seems plausible but doesn’t hold up beyond half a news cycle, to travel to every corner of the world. It can be re-tweeted a few thousand times. It can ultimately settle in as truth. The problem is, what appears as truth in the fog of a fight can shift to a falsehood, or merely become a matter for debate.

Victor Ortiz, who "quit" on his stool after Round 9 of his fight against heavy underdog Josesito Lopez on Saturday night in LA. The fight was seen on Showtime, and the Twittersphere blew up after Ortiz, complaining of a broken jaw, said, "No mas." The reaction was swift.

"He’s a dog" and "Got no heart" were two of the most common 140-characters-or-less takes.

Harsh. But to be expected. There is a warrior’s code that is accepted by practitioners when they get their license. Quitting is an option, but only if you are willing to pay the price and wear a scarlet letter for giving in when the going got tough. Fighters are a cut above, we like to think, and can withstand mental and physical abuse better than we mortals. If they don’t, then we sometimes become irked, and petulantly try to yank them back into our sphere of regular Joes.

But Victor Ortiz has a track record. There is evidence that has piled up in his disfavor. So critics were ready with knives out when he chose the easier way Saturday.

He’d uttered a "no mas" in 2009, telling a ref he didn’t want to continue after he began to get the worst of it against Marcos Maidana.

Ortiz, who grew up in a hellacious situation, kicked to the curb by his parents, had Maidana down once in the first and twice in the second. But Maidana didn’t cave in. He persevered. Ortiz, also on the deck in the first, was knocked down early in the sixth. "You OK, son? Let’s go," the ref said. Left eye almost shut, cut over his right eye, Ortiz was not OK. Mentally, he was at his breaking point. He shook his head to indicate "no mas," and turned away from the ref, who halted the scrap. It took him two years to erase the stain. He did so in a thriller win over Andre Berto. But the stain re-appeared on Saturday.

As the tenth round was about to begin, Ortiz said he didn’t want to continue. His jaw was broken, he told trainer Danny Garcia. It didn’t compute to the crowd. Ortiz had maybe won the previous round, though Lopez had scored with power shots -- probably one of them a jawbreaker -- in the last 20 seconds.

He quit on his stool, announcer Gus Johnson screamed. Wiseman analyst Al Bernstein told viewers to consider that Ortiz perhaps had an injury not apparent to us all.

Indeed, he did. His jaw was fractured in two places, and needed a titanium plate and screws to stitch it together. Ortiz had surgery to repair the busted bone on Sunday. But on Saturday, he'd had heaps of abuse piled on him by fight fans, and yes, even fighters, who dismissed him as a quitter. The victor Lopez took a shot at Ortiz, saying, "Victor has no heart."


Harsh. But if anyone is "allowed" to go there, it is Lopez.

Me? I tend to think Ortiz has heart, merely for persevering when his dad left his family, and then his mom followed suit, leaving him in the care of an older sister. But does he have the sort of heart that will be noted when his legacy is discussed in coming years? No, he does not.

Ali fighting on with a broken jaw against Norton is frequently cited when The Greatest is brought up. Ortiz not doing so will be part of his history book. That's my opinion, but I think overall it is best left to the men in the arena to weigh in on this subject. More so than us sideliners.

Check back to see what Paulie Malignaggi thought about Ortiz' decision to stay on his stool.
Larry Merchant refers to the sport of boxing as the "theater of the unexpected." But sometimes the wacky goings on in the sweet science defy the imaginations of even the most been-around-the-block fightwatcher.

It's a fair bet that the 80-year-old Merchant, who was born in Brooklyn and worked at the New York Post in the '70s, didn't wake up Saturday morning and predict that that evening, he'd nearly get into a fistfight with 34-year-old Floyd Mayweather, maybe the best prizefighter in the world today.

If you missed the drama on Sunday morning ...

After Mayweather had the Marquess of Queensberry shooting ashes out his coffin from spinning so hard, because Mayweather scored a KO4 win in Las Vegas by smashing foe Victor Ortiz while Ortiz was apologizing for headbutting him, Merchant interviewed Mayweather.

The HBO analyst said the crowd was in an uproar because many felt that he took shots at Ortiz "unfairly." He asked Floyd for his side.

Mayweather said he got hit with a dirty shot, and blamed Ortiz for not protecting himself at all times. Merchant tried to redirect Floyd when he launched into a promotional spiel, and the situation went from slightly uncomfortable to tense.

They watched the replay of the possibly dirty KO. Floyd said Ortiz could have a rematch.

Merchant tried to continue the Q&A and Floyd abruptly tried to end it. "You know what I'm going to do, because you don't ever give me a fair shake, so I'm going to let you talk to Victor Ortiz," Mayweather said. "I'm through. Put someone else up here to give me an interview."

"What are you talking about?" Merchant replied, in a fiesty fashion.

"You never give me a fair shake, HBO needs to fire you," the boxer said. "You don't know s--t about boxing. You ain't s---. You not s----. "

"I wish I was fifty years younger and I'd kick your ass," Merchant replied, up in Mayweather's grill, as close as Ortiz got.

"You won't do s---," Mayweather said, as his crew pulled him away.

This was not the first time to two had beefed with such rancor. NYFightblog recalls Mayweather and Merchant sparring back in 2006. Check back in the next post to get the lowdown on their first tussle.

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The politics of the fight game, the crooked managers, shifty promoters, the dates that fall through, all the annoying impediments that must be dealt with for a boxer to ascend to the upper echelon can sap a man as much or more than physical punishment.

Sechew Powell
, a 32 year old junior middleweight who lives in Flatbush, has been touched by all the typical collateral idiocy associated with the climb to the word class level. But he has not let those hurdles sap his love for the game.

So no, no fan of Powell's who has followed him since he turned pro in 2002 should hear that he has been working as a sparring partner for Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, and infer that he has capitulated. No, Powell told NYFightblog, even though he has made more money working with Floyd with the first week of August than he did in his last bout, a title shot against Cornelius Bundrage in June, he hasn't retired his desire to win a world title.

Mayweather has been getting himself ready for his fight with Victor Ortiz, which unfolds at the MGM Grand in Vegas tomorrow night. So Powell (26-3 with 15 KOs), a lefty like Ortiz, has tried to approximate the underdog for Mayweather. He believes he's earned his keep, and helped Floyd to fine-tune. But the experience has also benefitted him, beyond the solid paychecks. He's soaked up some of the ways and means which have made Mayweather the top rated fighter, pound for pound, in the world.

"You'd be a fool to come around the best and not pick up some things, not take a few pages from him," Powell said. "His work ethic, his psychology, it's out of this world. I believe Mayweather is the best in the biz."

Part of that success, Powell said, stems from the fact that Mayweather isn't afraid to do things that work for him, even if the culture or tradition frowns upon it. Thus, Powell has to be ready to work four rounds sparring with Mayweather at 4 AM if the champ asks.

Mayweather is 34; fight pundits wonder if he hasn't slipped a bit. He got wobbled by aged Shane Mosley in his last fight. I asked Powell if age has robbed Mayweather of something.

"He's looked sharp. He hasn't lost anything to my eyes. I think he's better than he was five years ago, two years ago. Staying in a line of work, you get better. When it comes to boxing, people skip over that. As you age, you get smarter. But people think he will regress. Floyd is not breaking down. It's all about how you take care of your body. The best Floyd is here today."

Check back later..I'll post some info on where Powell hopes his career will go next, and if he ever regrets the business he's chosen.

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