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Maidana too much for Ortiz, who thrills in defeat

27
Jun

Marcos Maidana, here standing over Victor Ortiz after dropping the hot prospect in the first round of their six-round shootout, was himself floored three times in the all-action fight. However, the dangerous puncher from Argentina had a better chin and recuperative ability than Ortiz, who was ultimately stopped. Photo by Craig Bennett / FightWireImages.com.

LOS ANGELES — Victor Ortiz’s ring-entrance music before his shootout with Marcos Maidana proved to be prophetic.

Ortiz walked in to late pop icon Michael Jackson’s Beat It and Thriller and that’s just what happened to the delight of the 8,600 fans Saturday night at Staples Center.

The two power-punching junior welterweights beat the hell out of each other and the fight was a thriller while it lasted, which was just a little over five rounds. That’s all that Ortiz (24-2-1, 19 knockouts) could take of Maidana’s relentless attack.

After five rounds, five knockdowns and at least two Round of the Year candidates, Ortiz was battered into submission in the opening seconds of the sixth round. Even before the fight was officially waved off by referee Raul Caiz Sr. the fans in attendance and those watching on HBO knew it was over. Ortiz's body language shouted out that he was done.

The 22-year-old southpaw was doubled over as he struggled to his shaky feet. Squinting from a cut over his right eye and practically blind in his left eye due to a golf ball-sized mouse under it, Ortiz was led across the ring to see ringside physician Dr. Paul Wallace. Ortiz basically told the doctor that he had had enough.

He certainly couldn’t see well and since his eyes were damaged by the many head shots Maidana landed during their firefight, the bout was stopped 46 seconds into the sixth round.

Ortiz, who scored three knockdowns, one in the first and two in the second round, led by three points (48-45) on all three scorecards. However, after a brutal fourth and fifth round, Ortiz looked like someone who was losing the fight.

Maidana (26-1, 25 KOs), a complete unknown in the U.S., defeated the fighter most boxing pundits tabbed to be the next crossover star of the sport.

Ortiz seemed to have it all. He had an inspiring story of overcoming an abusive childhood, an affable personality, good looks, athletic talent, power in both hands, boxing ability, a strong work ethic, well-connected managers and promoter (Golden Boy Promotions), and heavy interest from HBO.

Ortiz has just about everything a boxer needs to be successful and an attraction. Everything but a world-class chin.

There were whispers around the gyms of Southern California, where he lives and trains, that he doesn’t take as well as he dishes out.

There was evidence of this in two of his previous 26 bouts. Ortiz was dropped by right hands from Tomas Barrientes and Dairo Esalas. However, showing guts and killer instinct, Ortiz got up and knocked out both journeymen.

Those hints at the shaky nature of Ortiz’s chin were quickly forgotten because the hot prospect performed so well in his recent step-up bouts.

He knocked out former titleholder Carlos Maussa with a single punch in the first round of their bout in November 2007. He overwhelmed former title challenger Mike Arnaoutis in two rounds in March.

However, it’s one thing to beat up on Maussa and Arnaoutis. It’s quite another to do it to a strong-willed aggressive fighter who can punch like Maidana.

Maussa was rugged but long in the tooth and short on talent.

Arnaoutis was skilled and experienced but he wasn’t an offensive threat.

Maidana was a threat. The 25-year-old Argentine is in his athletic prime, gutsy, durable, experienced and powerful.

Maidana was the first bona fide contender Ortiz faced, and ultimately he was too much for the young man.

For four rounds, it was anyone’s fight, and “anyone” looked to be Ortiz.

Both fighters were dropped in the wild opening round, which set the tone for the rest of the slugfest. However, Maidana, who was dropped first, suffered more of a flash knockdown. Ortiz, who literally jumped into a big right cross from Maidana later in the round, was dropped hard.

The Oxnard, Calif. resident got up on wobbly legs but landed the cleaner shots to the bell.

In the second round, the worst thing that could have happened to Ortiz happened — he scored not one but two knockdowns courtesy of well-timed right hooks. The success of this round kicked in Ortiz’s finisher instinct. Whatever boxing strategy he had coming into the bout was out of the window.

“I didn’t listen to my corner,” Ortiz admitted at the post-fight press conference. “We planned to box, to do everything to stay away from his power.”

Ortiz said the crowd got to him.

“I heard people chanting my name,” he said. “That’s never happened to me before. It just messed with me.”

The rest of the fight was a battle of wills, power and chins.

Great for the fans, bad for the prospect who so desperately wanted to be a champ and a star.

Both fighters landed monster shots in the third, fourth and explosive fifth round, but Maidana took them better than his less-experienced foe, who was bloodied and repeatedly wobbled.

“I was dropped (early in the fight) but I got up because I have a big heart,” Maidana said. “I noticed that Victor (reacted poorly to) my punches and after that I wouldn’t let him survive.

“He hits very hard, but he doesn’t have a good chin. He couldn’t keep up with my pace.”

Ortiz admitted that much after the fight.

“I thought I could hurt him,” he said. “I thought I could knock him out. I came into the fight wanting to take my time and wear him down but I got hurt.

“I wasn’t in the zone tonight.”

That’s not entirely true. Ortiz was in the zone in spots.

He put up a hell of fight, but he simply didn’t stick to an intelligent gameplan, which is a rookie mistake. It happens. He can come back.

Ortiz still has promise, maybe even star potential. He might still one day be a champion. But tonight wasn’t his night.

“I always say may the best man win,” Ortiz said, “and tonight Maidana was the best man.”

Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]

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