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Fight Night Club returns, Ortiz headlines first show

28
Jan

Victor Ortiz (far left), Oscar De La Hoya (left center), Hector Alatorre (right center), and Luis Ramos (far right) pose during a press conference announcing the second season of “Fight Night Club.” Ortiz-Alatorre will headline the first show on February 25. Ramos will also be on the Fox Sports Net-televised card. Photo / Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Good news for Los Angeles-area boxing fans, who will get the opportunity to watch Victor Ortiz fight live for as little as $20 a seat at Club Nokia in downtown L.A. on February 25.

That’s a heck of deal considering the last time Ortiz fought in L.A. he and Marcos Maidana engaged in a memorable shootout that resulted in a TKO loss for the young junior welterweight standout but also left the fans at Staples Center breathless.

Now for the bad news. Ortiz won’t be fighting Maidana in a rematch on that night. The soon-to-be 23-year-old southpaw isn’t facing undefeated titleholder Timothy Bradley or British star Amir Khan, either. Ortiz (25-2-1, 20 knockouts) is fighting someone named Hector Alatorre.



Feel free to ask yourself, “Hector Ala-who?”

The tough-but-limited journeyman from Tulare, Calif., is the first to admit that he’s a virtual unknown outside of his central California community but he will joined on the Feb. 25 card by a few well-known prospects from the L.A. area and Orange County, including undefeated lightweight Luis Ramos.

That’s because the Ortiz-Alatorre 10-rounder headlines this year’s first Fight Night Club, Golden Boy Promotions’ monthly club show designed to showcase the L.A.-based company’s home-grown talent.

The well-received series, which was televised on the Versus network, began with four summer shows at Club Nokia last year. Fight Night Club featured some of Golden Boy’s up-and-comers from Southern California, such as Santa Ana’s Ramos, Oxnard’s David Rodela and Paramount’s Charles Huerta.

The prospects fought four- and six-round bouts in front of raucous local crowds and were often in with live opponents. Huerta, a promising featherweight, suffered the first loss of his career — a shocking first-round KO to Derrick Wilson — in the July headliner. Rodela, an exciting junior lightweight, was pushed to the limit in his two six-round main events, which he won by close decisions.

Fight Night Club returns to its home at Club Nokia, the swanky 2,200-seat venue across from Staples Center at L.A. LIVE, but it has a new network partner in Fox Sports Net and it has expanded to 10 shows beginning with the Feb. 25 card.

Most of the shows will be headlined by prospects such as Ramos and Huerta, but occasionally a more advanced fighter, such as Ortiz, can use the series as a means of staying busy between higher-profile fights.

Fight Night Club is all about creating followings and recognition for developing young fighters but it’s also a great opportunity for more-seasoned fighters to stay active and in the public eye while they wait for title fights,” Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, said at a Tuesday press conference announcing the 2010 season of the series. “Last year, (bantamweight contender) Abner Mares headlined a Fight Night Club and he’s right there for a world title.

“There’s a good chance that Mares will challenge for world title in May, but even so, he could headline the March Fight Night Club just to make sure he’s sharp and ready for it. Sergio Mora, who we just signed, is a veteran but he might headline one of the shows because he hasn’t fought since 2008.

“I take my hat off to fighters like Abner and Victor. They’re not getting paid HBO money with Fight Night Club, and obviously they deserve that kind of pay, but they’re willing to sacrifice to stay sharp and they’re acting like real fighters. Fighters fight.”

Ortiz’s management believes that activity is ultimately more vital to a young fighter’s career than big paydays.

Rolando Arellano, who co-manages Ortiz with Shelly Finkel, used to co-manage Fernando Vargas (also with Finkel). Arellano says the former 154-pound titleholder’s inactivity played a big part in the fighter’s abbreviated prime.

“Once Fernando became an HBO fighter he fought once every 18 months and during the time between fights he would put on weight and his skills would erode,” Arellano said. “That old saying ‘Use it or lose it’ holds true for boxing. Victor has an HBO date in May but we don’t want him sitting around for six months.”

Enter Alatorre (16-8, 5 KOs). The 28-year-old journeyman, who has never been stopped, is durable enough to go rounds with Ortiz but doesn’t have the power to threaten the potential 140-pound star.

Golden Boy’s matchmakers hope Alatorre, who gave former 130-pound titleholder Carlos Hernandez a hellish outing in a 10-round split-decision loss in 2008, will be spirited enough to at least make for an entertaining scrap against Ortiz.

If Alatorre is as animated on fight night as he was at the press conference, the fans should get their moneys worth.

“Some people see me as a ladder for Victor to climb, but people forget that some ladders lead down. Some stepping stones are slippery,” Alatorre said. “I'm not here to lose. I'm here to make a statement. For me, this is a rematch from seven and half years ago. We fought (as amateurs) in the (California State) Golden Gloves finals at Lincoln Park. I was the defending champion and I took him lightly. He was just a young kid, and forgive my French, but he was barely dropping his balls.

“We had a good fight. I thought it could have gone either way, but he won. I wasn’t mentally prepared then. Now I'm ready.”

Ortiz didn’t quite know what to make of Alatorre’s “balls” statement but he was respectful of his unheralded opponent.

“I know Hector is no joke,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to be ready.”

De La Hoya and Arellano want Ortiz to stay ready all year because they plan to keep him busy — and against much stiffer competition than Alatorre.

“I’d like Victor to fight five times this year,” Arellano said. “I realize that HBO doesn’t have enough dates for three or four to be on their network but he can be placed on some pay-per-view undercards and we’re always happy to come back on Fox Sports Net, which is in more than 80 million households.”

De La Hoya is more concerned with who Ortiz fights than what network the fights are on.

His company currently promotes (or represents) former champ Ricky Hatton; current beltholder Khan; two former lightweights standouts now campaigning at 140 pounds, Juan Manuel Marquez and Campbell; former titleholder Vivian Harris; undefeated puncher Lucas Matthysse; and Ortiz’s nemesis, Maidana. De La Hoya believes Ortiz can hold his own with any of the aforementioned junior welterweights and he says Golden Boy will try to match him against some of those formidable fighters this year.

“There’s a lot of great talent at junior welterweight and Victor is at the forefront,” De La Hoya said. “I think he’s ready for all of them.”

A boxing writer asked De La Hoya about Bradley, THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight, who isn’t promoted by Golden Boy.

“Timothy Bradley, a fellow Southern Californian, is there for Victor, too,” he said. “There’s also (titleholders) Devon Alexander and Juan Urango. Victor is young. He’s going to be around for a long time so there’s time for him to fight them all.”

Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times asked Ortiz who he would like to fight next.

“This guy named Hector Alatorre on Feb. 25,” Ortiz replied.

THE DREADED ‘TBA’

If the proposed Shane Mosley-Floyd Mayweather showdown is made, there’s a good chance Ortiz will be on the televised undercard of the May 1st or May 8th pay-per-view event.

Who the Oxnard, Calif., resident will fight is not known yet, but Campbell apparently is the front runner.

Arellano says that Ortiz will fight on HBO in May even if Mosley-Mayweather isn’t made.

Ramos (13-0, 7 KOs) doesn’t have an opponent for his six-round lightweight bout on Feb. 25 but the 21-year-old southpaw knows his foe will be a step up from the hardnosed journeymen he fought in his three Fight Night Club appearances last year.

“I’ve been told that my opponents are going to get tougher this year,” he said. “I fought journeymen last year, tough guys, but they had losing records. I don’t think I’ll be fighting anyone with a losing record this year. They’re going to have winning records and I’m sure at some point this year I’ll have to face an undefeated up-and-comer like myself.

“Some of the guys who fought on last year’s shows fought undefeated fighters with mixed results. I’ll probably be a little nervous before a fight with a fellow prospect but once I’m in the ring I’ll find a way to win.

“I’m excited about facing better competition because I want to put my boxing skills to the test.”

That’s what the series is all about.

FNC TICKET AND SERIES INFO.

Doors for the Feb. 25 show open at 6 p.m. PT. The first bell rings at 7 p.m. PT.

Ticket prices start at $19.75 (general admission for floor standing room and balcony seats). There are also $60 tickets (VIP balcony seats, which grant buyers access to the Club Nokia VIP Room), $100 (VIP front row balcony seats, which come with a Fight Night Club autographed boxing glove and grant buyers access to the Club Nokia VIP Room), and $250 (VIP on-stage with the ring seats, which are limited to only 10 per show and allow purchasers to sit ringside on Club Nokia's stage near VIPs attending the fight, receive an Oscar De La Hoya autographed boxing glove and provide buyers access to the Club Nokia VIP Room [must be 21 years of age and over]).

The Fight Night Club series, which is sponsored by DeWalt Tools, Budweiser and Vitamin Water, will return to Club Nokia on March 25, April 29, May 27, June 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30, Oct. 28 and Nov. 18.