Five keys for Victor Ortiz
Plotting a path to victory against Josesito Lopez
When former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz and rising contender Josesito Lopez meet in Saturday's 12-round bout from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, each will be attempting to reach his 30th victory and grab a vacant title. And although those milestones may be important to a fighter's career, in this case the biggest prize lies beyond. The true value of a victory would be solidifying a spot in the upper echelon of the lucrative 147-pound division, and the bigger and better purses that come with it. And for Ortiz, the stakes are higher: If he stumbles against Lopez on Saturday, his September pay-per-view blockbuster against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vanishes.
Ortiz-Lopez features a pair of fighters with like-minded strategies and similar outstanding weapons: Ortiz's straight left and Lopez's straight right. Although both are well-rounded, resourceful boxers, Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) is clearly the harder puncher, launching from his uncomfortable southpaw stance, and also has the hand-speed advantage. For Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs), outboxing Ortiz from distance, using his mobility and controlling space in the ring, represents his best chance. But in the end, the most intriguing aspect of the fight will be watching those two long straight hands go to work and finding out which of the two commands the most respect.
With the stage set, here are five keys to victory for Ortiz on Saturday:
Get past the checkpoint
|Lopez's jab might not seem like much, but only after you get past it. And Ortiz isn't so good at ducking or slipping the punch. If Ortiz thinks he'll have it easy getting into Lopez's range and doing damage from short distance, he had better learn quickly to get under that jab -- a classic southpaw move and his best bet -- before he charges forward. If he drops his guard too often (a flaw he exhibits all too often) and stands in front of Lopez, challenging him to take the initiative, Ortiz will be outscored and kept out of range for most of the fight.|
Mind your business
|The key word in this phrase: mind. The Head-butt Heard 'Round the World gave critics more ammunition in their argument that, in the case of Ortiz, the light may be on but no one's home. Beyond his intentional butting of Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September, Ortiz has made a name for himself with his ring antics -- and not in a good way. He basically quit against Marcos Maidana and puzzled with a postfight rant, held and kissed Mayweather after brutally butting him, and has been known to laugh, stick out his tongue and taunt opponents with inappropriate gestures and the silliest of moves. The shenanigans will catch up to him at some point, and it couldn't happen at a worse time than against a second-tier opponent coming in as a late substitute. Seriously, it's time to stop.|
Take the head start
|Lopez is a busy fighter. He throws and throws and throws, scoring in rapid bursts. His three most relevant defeats were on points, but by slim margins. Ortiz isn't a defensive genius, but his counterpunching skills are far superior to Lopez's, and this should become more evident as the fight progresses. Ortiz should let Lopez come, and as he gains confidence, his glaring defensive weaknesses -- especially on the right flank, where he will be wide open to Ortiz's straight left -- will become more evident and more exploitable. Ortiz should allow Lopez's hubris to do the hard work, then strike late to put on the finishing touches.|
Hooked on hooks
|The X factor in this bout could be an unexpected hook from either fighter. Lopez showed the weapon against Edgar Santana and Mike Dallas Jr., and Ortiz against virtually every one of his opponents. It might be both fighters' best offensive weapon, and when it lands, it's a thing of beauty. But flip the comparison: Who is most vulnerable to the hook? It's Lopez, who has been known to quickly lose steam when hit repeatedly below the rib cage. Ortiz needs to tap into that Mexican flair for body punching, like a modern-day Julio Cesar Chavez, and then watch Lopez crumble in front of his eyes.|
Far from right
|As mentioned, Lopez's right hand is a great punch, almost perfectly thrown, with lots of power and a great follow-through movement. If it lands early and catches Ortiz cold, the going might get rough for the former champ very quickly. If Ortiz manages to slip to the side and let that big right zip by, and then uses the gaping hole in Lopez's defense left by his excessive lunge to counterpunch him while he's off balance, Ortiz will find some success. And if he can catch Lopez with his short hook on the way back, we'll all go home earlier than expected.|
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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