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NEW YORK -- There was no title at stake, but maybe there was even more for junior welterweights Victor Ortiz and Nate Campbell: their careers as money players in one of boxing's deepest divisions.
It was Ortiz, 15 years younger, who cruised to the unanimous decision win Saturday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater and put himself in position to cash in.
With titleholder Amir Khan and former titlist Paulie Malignaggi meeting in the main event, that big fight could come later in the year against the winner.
The stakes were high for Ortiz and Campbell.
Ortiz, 23, the 2008 ESPN.com prospect of the year, had won two fights in a row against faded Antonio Diaz and journeyman Hector Alatorre but is still trying to shake off the stigma of quitting in a sixth-round TKO loss to Marcos Maidana last summer and then shrugging it off afterward.
"I felt good, but I could of stepped it up a bit," Ortiz said. "But it was a hard fight. He's a veteran coming off a [tought fight] to a champion, Tim Bradley, so he came with everything he had. It was improvement I think, but I could have done better."
Campbell, 38, a former unified lightweight titleholder, was looking to ignite his career again at the top level of boxing in his first fight since breaking with promoter Don King and signing with Golden Boy Promotions. In his last fight, in August, Campbell had a rough night in a three-round no contest in a title challenge to Bradley, who roughed up Campbell throughout the fight, which was stopped after Campbell couldn't continue after a severe head butt.
Ortiz, 23, was quicker, more active and landed heavier shots throughout the fight. Campbell, 38, did not seem to have much steam on his punches on the few occasions that he landed anything solid. He also appeared troubled all fight by Ortiz's southpaw style and straight left hand as he followed Ortiz around.
Judges Don Trella and Julie Lederman each had it a 100-89 shutout for Ortiz, while Tom Schrek had it 99-90. ESPN.com also had it 100-89 for Ortiz.
According to CompuBox statistics, Campbell landed a paltry average of just seven punches per round while throwing just 43 on average.
"It wasn't a good fight," Campbell said. "My hip tightened up in the third round and I couldn't move around. We were going to pull out of this fight because I had a muscle spasm, but I didn't want to do that to you guys and HBO. I'm a fighter."
Ortiz landed 122 of 503 punches (24 percent), whereas Campbell connected on just 71 of 435 shots (16 percent).
Campbell (33-6-1, 25 KOs), of Jacksonville, Fla., looked strong in the opening round, but whatever momentum he had generated evaporated at the end of the round when Ortiz (27-2-1, 21 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., scored a knockdown on a short right hand, although it also looked like he shoved Campbell.
Brooklyn middleweight Daniel Jacobs (20-0, 17 KOs), the 2009 ESPN.com prospect of the year, mowed down Juan Astorga (14-5-1, 9 KOs), giving his hometown fans something to cheer about with a second-round knockout.
Jacobs, 23, who was out for eight months because of a hand injury before returning in March, dropped Astorga twice in the opening round and twice more in the second round before referee Steve Willis called it at 51 seconds.
Fighting in New York for only the second time as a pro, Jacobs did most of his damage with heavy left hands to the body. He knocked down Astorga, of Brownfield, Texas, with the punch in the opening round before connecting with a left hook that sent his mouthpiece flying. Jacobs scored another knockdown at the end of the first round when Astorga went down under a hail of punches. Astorga went down twice more from body shots in the second round.
• Heavyweight Kelvin Price (7-0, 4 KOs), brought in as the opponent, scored an upset six-round split-decision against New York prospect Tom Hamer (11-1, 8 KOs), a fighter promoted by show co-promoter Lou DiBella.
Hamer had trouble getting inside on the taller Price, who kept him at bay with a long jab in the crowd-pleasing fight.
Referee Benji Esteves credited Price with a second-round knockdown when the ropes appeared to hold Hamer up, although it looked like Hamer could have slipped on the slick canvas and grabbed the ropes to prevent himself from going down.
Two judges had it for Price 58-55, and the third had it for Hamer, 57-56.
• Colombian junior welterweight Breidis Prescott (22-2, 19 KOs), who handed Khan a crushing first-round knockout loss in September 2008, turned up on his undercard after signing with DiBella and shook off a two-fight losing streak.
Prescott, 2-2 since the upset of Khan in a lightweight bout, had an easy night, blowing out Canada's Jason Davis (11-7-1, 3 KOs) in the second round. The heavy-handed Prescott, based in Miami, attacked Davis' body and dropped him twice with audible left hooks to the body. Davis appeared to be in terrible pain after each blow and Esteves called off the fight after the second at 1 minute, 11 seconds.
• Irish junior welterweight Jamie Kavanagh (1-0, 1 KO), who is trained by Freddie Roach and signed last week with Golden Boy, scored a second-round knockout of William Ware (1-3, 1 KO) in his professional debut.
Ware wobbled Kavanagh in the first round, but Kavanagh quickly rebounded to score a knockdown on a body shot with a few seconds left in the first round. In the second round, Kavanagh dropped Ware again with a left hook to the head. He rose at nine and was rocked again before referee Sparkle Lee called it off at 1 minute, 39 seconds.
• In the first fight of the night, New Jersey middleweight Dennis "Mama's Boy" Douglin (9-0, 5 KOs), who is trained by his mother, stopped Joshua Onyango (13-19-1, 11 KOs), dropping him twice in the second round for the stoppage at 1 minute, 10 seconds.Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.