Thursday, December 08, 2022  |



Ortiz didn’t learn from Guerrero’s mistake


Victor Ortiz might've been wise to fight Marcos Maidana with one eye rather than quietly accept an early stoppage. Photo by Craig Bennett /

LOS ANGELES — Victor Ortiz, meet Robert Guerrero.

In March, Guerrero was cut badly above his right eye against Daud Yordan — the result of a head butt — and the fight was stopped by the referee. Afterward, he was criticized for acknowledging that he couldn’t see and not protesting the referee’s decision.

On Saturday, Ortiz’s right eye was cut and his left eye had become swollen shut early the sixth round of a give-and-take brawl against Marcos Maidana, the doctor stopped it and Ortiz didn’t protest.

The criticism should begin rolling in shortly.

Like Guerrero, Ortiz’s courage shouldn’t be questioned, particularly after the five rounds of life-and-death action that preceded the disappointing stoppage. Clearly, the young fighter has guts.

However, also like Guerrero, Ortiz didn’t have the right instinct when he was face to face with the devil — which was to fight on regardless of any sudden obstacles. Only two weeks ago, Miguel Cotto gave an admirable demonstration of grit when he fought most of his fight against Joshua Clotty with blood dripping into his eye and pulled out a victory.

On Saturday, after Ortiz went down in the final round, his body language said clearly that he wanted no more of Maidana after a brutal fifth and hard right to start the sixth. Then, immediately after the fight ended, he told broadcaster Max Kellerman of HBO that he had taken enough punishment, that he didn’t want to go on.

“I'm young, but I don't think I deserve to get beat up like this. So I have a lot of thinking to do,” he said.

That was the last thing he should’ve said.

Fans expect fighters to battle through adversity, to look danger in the eye, to go down swinging if necessary. Hall of Famer Carmen Basilio fought 11 rounds with a mouse bigger and more-grotesque than Ortiz’s against the best fighter ever, Sugar Ray Robinson.

That wasn’t Ortiz’s instinct.

And even if a stoppage is justified, which might’ve been the case Saturday, it’s a fighter’s duty to protest, to jump up and down, to yell and scream, to do anything to indicate that he wants to fight on. An enraged Basilio went after the ref when his second fight against Gene Fullmer was stopped because he had taken too much punishment.

Ortiz didn’t say a word.

Of course, it’s not difficult to understand Ortiz’s thinking. He was in the ring with a little monster, a guy who had knocked out all but two of his opponents. The last thing you want to do is fight that kind of guy with one eye.

Still, that’s what you have to do if you’re a fighter or face criticism.

The fight was a learning experience for Ortiz. He fought a stupid fight, which he admitted afterward. He slugged with a slugger when he probably could’ve outboxed him. Had he fought his fight, we wouldn’t be talking about the way it ended.

And, once again like Guerrero, he’ll probably react differently if he suffers a cut or another injury that presents a sudden challenge.

If not, he'll open himself up to criticism again.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]