Monday, May 27, 2024  |



Victor Ortiz wins for the first time since 2011

Fighters Network
Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images-Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images-Golden Boy Promotions

LAS VEGAS — There was a time, not that long ago, when Victor Ortiz fought before swelling crowds and rousing, pulsating music. Now, “Vicious” has been reduced to this: a sparse crowd of maybe 100 providing a splattering of applause at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday against a terribly overmatched, undersized opponent who served as a great sparring partner.

As if Ortiz needed any reminders of where he was – and where he is – on the hallway leading to the ring there hung a promotional poster his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2011.

Ortiz splashed Manuel Perez on the Amir Khan-Devon Alexander undercard at :51 of the third round. The TKO marked Ortiz’s first win since his brand-shaping victory over the-WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto on April 16, 2011.

Since then, Ortiz was stopped in his last three fights: Mayweather (KO 4), Josesito Lopez (TKO 9) and Luis Collazo (KO 2).

So this served as a bit of rehab, both physically and psychologically, for the former world titlist, who’s only 27.

Ortiz knows very well his station – and guess what, he doesn’t care. He’s aware his climb back up will take baby steps.

“For me to win this, this was great, but I didn’t come here to impress anyone really at all,” said Ortiz, who looked great, a chiseled 156 during the fight after weighing in at 146.5. “I came here to listen to what I had to do and please myself. Everyone was giving me grief that I’m not this, and I’m not that. I heard that I’m done. Hold on here, let’s rewind for a second, I’m only 27. I just entered my prime.”

Ortiz (30-5-2, 23 knockouts) has gone through three trainers in his career. He used Danny Smith briefly for the Collazo fight – that was a disaster – and before that it was Danny Garcia. He feels it’s a good match with trainer Joel Diaz.

“My goal for this fight was to try and deliver, and for people to say this and that about me, I don’t care, I’m going to do what I want,” Ortiz said. “At first, I was told by Golden Boy that they would give me a big, big slot. I told them I’ll take the fight anywhere. They told me about being a co-main event. I told them I needed to work from the ground up again. I don’t care about making millions. I said, ‘Look, it’s cool.’ I want to get back to where I came from. I have to start taking baby steps again.”

Early on against the light-punching Perez (22-11-1, 4 KOs), Ortiz had some timing issues. He was even briefly pinned against the ropes by Perez. But by the middle of the round, Ortiz’s superior skill, strength and size began taking over.

He shot lefts up the middle and by the end of the first, Perez returned to his corner with a swollen left eye. In the second, Perez had issues hurting Ortiz and from there it became a matter of time before “Vicious” would stop him.

That came at :51 of the third, when Ortiz landed a straight left that ended it. Perez was stunned and referee Vic Drakulich waved it over.

“When Victor came to me, I told him we have to start from the bottom here, you’re in the bottom, you’re in the trash and I want to pick you up,” Diaz said. “Right now, nothing is easy for Victor. Even though he was fighting in front of 100 people, it made him realize where he is. It’s his fault. … I think it’s important that he realizes that.

“When he came to my camp, I didn’t give him any special treatment, I gave him tough love. I told him if he wants to succeed in the boxing business, he has to be still be hungry. If not, don’t even try it. He knows if he doesn’t stay hungry, this is it, he’ll be nothing more than an opponent for someone else.”

Other fights on the undercard included Beibut Shumenov’s debut at cruiserweight, stopping Bobby Thomas Jr. in the fifth. It was the first fight for Shumenov (15-2, 10 KOs) since he lost the WBA light heavyweight title to Bernard Hopkins in April. Junior middleweight Yoshihiro Kamegai (25-2-1, 22 KOs) scored a fourth-round TKO over Oscar Godoy. Former Olympian Errol Spence (15-0, 12 KOs) scored a junior middleweight fifth-round TKO over Javier Castro. Junior middleweight Jermell Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs) won a 10-round decision over Mario Lozano.