Ortiz could be one victory away from big fight
Former welterweight titleholder Carlos Baldomir said people shouldn’t sell him short just because he’s 39. Photo / Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
LOS ANGLES — Victor Ortiz is probably one victory away from climbing back to where he was before he fought Marcos Maidana in June of last year, a knock out loss that killed his momentum.
Since then, he has easily defeated veterans Antonio Diaz and Nate Campbell — Diaz by seventh-round TKO, Campbell by decision — and stopped reluctant journeyman Hector Alatorre in 10.
All he has to do now is beat one more veteran — Vivian Harris on the Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora pay-per-view card on Saturday in Los Angeles — and he should be in position for a major title fight.
“Am I nervous? Of course,” said Rolando Arellano, Ortiz’s longtime co-manager. “They always say older fighters have one great fighter left in them. I don’t want this to be Vivian’s one great fight. We have a lot on the line. Victor is the No. 1 contender. HBO is already jockeying with us for fights against Timothy Bradley or Amir Khan.
“The 140-pound division is the hottest in boxing right now. There’s a lot of money there, a lot of excitement. God forbid if something went wrong we’d be derailed from all that excitement.”
That doesn’t seem likely.
Harris, a former titleholder, isn’t old (32) but hasn’t been relevant since he was stopped in seven rounds by then-titleholder Junior Witter. The boxer-puncher from New York is 1-1 (with one no-contest) since then.
And Ortiz (27-2-1, 21 knockouts) seems to have regained any lost confidence and is in a groove, having dominated his last three opponents.
Ortiz made the fateful mistake of slugging with Maidana, one of the hardest punchers in the world, but has made an important adjustment. He is now a boxer first and puncher second, which he said is how he started out.
He picked apart Campbell in a near-shutout in May.
“I do think of myself as a boxer first,” Ortiz said before an open workout Tuesday at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. “When I landed in Oxnard (Calif.), they converted me into a brawler for a while. So my style has gone back and forth — boxing, slugging, boxing.
“Right now I feel comfortable with my style. I’m just listening to my coaches and feeling good.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t live up to his nickname, “Vicious.”
Ortiz seemed to fight tentatively is his first fight after Maidana, against Diaz, yet broke him down and scored a knockout. Alatorre refused to engage him yet still went out. And he was content to thoroughly outbox Campbell.
Arellano acknowledged his fighter’s tentativeness but believes it’s now in the past.
“A lot of people said right after his loss that he was tentative,” Arellano said. “Well, it’s natural. It’s human nature. A good analogy might be if you fall and break your hand. The doctor might say you’re good to go but you need to test it to get psychological assurance. That can take time.
“I think we’re ready. I think he’s complete again based on what I’ve seen in camp. He’s facing big, strong sparring partners and jumping all over them like he used to.”
Arellano believes Ortiz could face Bradley next if Bradley and Devon Alexander can’t finalize a much-anticipated title-unification fight on Jan. 29. Ortiz is the No. 1 contender for Bradley’s alphabet belt.
If that doesn’t work out, Arellano would like Ortiz to fight on the undercard of the tentative Khan-Maidana fight (which is scheduled to go to purse bid) on Dec. 11 and then fight the winner.
“We already started preliminary discussions with Gary Shaw and Timothy Bradley,” Arellano said. “It doesn’t seem like that other fight is going to happen. If it doesn’t, we want that fight if Victor does what he’s supposed to do against Harris. He’s 24 years old now. That’s a great age for boxers, when they’re at their best.
“Victor’s the No. 1 contender. We want to keep that position and force the WBO to give us the mandatory.”
Ortiz isn’t looking that far ahead.
“That makes me feel good,” he said, referring to talk about a big fight. “At the same time I don’t take anyone’s word anymore. I’ve been promised too many things too many times. I’m just going to go step by step.
“I have a big task ahead of me on Sept. 18. After that, I’ll do whatever I do.”
Rios’ comments: Brandon Rios called out Victor Ortiz after his spectacular victory over Anthony Peterson last Saturday, saying he wants to fight the bigger man, and blasted him in a name-calling rant on a boxingscene.com audio show.
Ortiz and Rios have known each other for years and were both trained by Robert Garcia in Oxnard before Ortiz bolted for a new trainer, Garcia’s brother Danny.
The reason Rios’ feels that way isn’t clear but the animosity is intense.
“I heard about it,” Ortiz said. “I have nothing to say about it. He’s a lightweight and I’m a junior welterweight. I think more than anything it comes from jealousy. I’m not thinking about it, though. I’m just doing my thing, paying attention to my coaches and staying on my game. I thought it was kind of funny more than anything.
“Where does it come from? It has to be the two [Garcia] camps. Their camp is holding onto something we let go of a long time ago. To each his own. I have nothing bad to say about him.”
Last chance? Carlos Baldomir faces Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a junior middleweight fight on the Mosley-Mora card in what could be his last chance to remain relevant.
The former welterweight titleholder from Argentina is 39 and hasn’t had a meaningful victory since he stopped an aging Arturo Gatti in 2006, which followed his biggest victory — a decision over Zab Judah for a welterweight title.
Baldomir (45-12-6, 14 KOs) is 2-3 since the Gatti fight, although the two losses were to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Vernon Forrest.
He knows that a victory over a hot young prospect could translate into at least one more lucrative fight.
“I made it and spent it but I have a little money left,” he said through a translator. “My family is OK; we’re fine. But obviously I know that winning this fight will lead to bigger and better things. I want the winner of Mosley and Mora after this.”
Baldomir insists he shouldn’t be counted out.
He dismissed marginal performances against Jackson Bonsu in a title eliminator (majority-decision loss) and Luciano Perez (majority-decision victory) as fights for which he didn’t properly prepare.
And he wants to remind everyone that the Judah and Gatti fights weren’t terribly long ago.
“I’m a late bloomer,” he said. “I was 35 when I fought Judah and Gatti. I still feel good, feel young, feel I’m capable of doing many things. You’ll see on Saturday.”
And he believes his victory over Alvarez will have a dramatic conclusion.
Baldomir pointed out that Jose Miguel Cotto, the brother of Miguel Cotto, hurt Alvarez in the first round of their fight even though he was a lightweight only four fights prior to their meeting.
“I know when I hit him, he’s going to fall,” Baldomir said. “I just know it.”
Or, as he said earlier, “I’m going to knock his freckles off.”
Rite of passage: Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, faced aging former champions on his rise to stardom, including John John Molina, Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez.
De La Hoya said he’s nervous about the Alvarez-Baldomir fight because he has high hopes for the 20-year-old from Mexico — the same with Ortiz — but he knows this is something all young fighters must face.
“These young fighters have the skills,” he said. “If they get through these fights ÔÇª the sky is the limit for both of them. With me, it could’ve been Chavez, it could’ve been Pernell, it could’ve been John John Molina. Those are the type of fights that help you become a man.
“I think Canelo and Victor can become men this Saturday.”
Potential opponent for Alvarez: De La Hoya said that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who is co-promoted by Bob Arum and Fernando Beltran, has made comments in the Mexican media about becoming a free agent.
If Chavez’s contracts with Arum and Beltran have expired, he said, he would be interested in speaking to the son of the Mexican icon about promoting him. Otherwise he wouldn’t.
“Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. reached out to us already asking if we can talk to him,” De La Hoya said. “Obviously, we’ll talk to him. We can talk to him if he has no contract (because) we respect every contract any promoter has with any fighter.”
The problem? A spokesman for Top Rank said its contract with Chavez “has about two years to go.”
De La Hoya said a fight between the Mexican rivals, which would be easy to make if both fought for Golden Boy Promotions, could be a monster fight in a few years.
“Chavez and Canelo could be huge — but not now,” he said. “ÔÇª Not now because that fight could be huge if you build it. If you build it, they will come. I think that fight could be huge in the States or even Estadio Azteca in Mexico, wherever it makes the most sense.”