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Teofimo Lopez Jr. wins disputed unanimous decision over Jamaine Ortiz

Teofimo Lopez celebrates the defense of his Ring Magazine and WBO 140-pound titles after defeating Jamaine Ortiz by controversial unanimous decision in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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LAS VEGAS—It was a little tough to wipe the smile from Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s face this week. The Ring and WBO junior welterweight world champion was omnipresent at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino throughout Super Bowl week.

In the casino lobby. In the hotel elevator entranceway. On the carpeted causeways.

There he was.

“Me and my big, beautiful nose everywhere,” he told waiting admirers, taking pictures and kissing babies.

He was relaxed. Confident. Determined. All because “The Takeover’s” alter ego, “slick boxer Gordo” was back.

That was manifested in beating 27-year-old Jamaine Ortiz by unanimous decision on Thursday night before 6,206 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Judges Tim Cheatham and David Sutherland each had 115-113 scores, while Steve Weisfeld had it 117-111 for Lopez (20-1, 13 knockouts). More than a few observers opined that Ortiz (17-2-1, 8 KOs) deserved to win the uneventful, low-volume championship bout via social media, but just as many (if not more) agreed with the official judges, stating that the 27-year-old New Englander simply did not do enough to lift Lopez’s world titles.

Each judge gave Lopez the final three rounds. Cheatham and Sutherland had Ortiz ahead, 86-85, after nine rounds. The judges agreed on six of the 12 rounds the first, third, and the last four, giving Ortiz the ninth, and the championship rounds to Lopez.

CompuBox stats revealed Ortiz landed just two more total punches than Lopez, 80-78. Although, Lopez’s hit on a higher connect rate, 78 (33)/364 (21.4%) to Ortiz’s 80 (12)/409 (19.6%).

Lopez, dressed in a black top hat and red tails for his ring walk, tried to bring a circus atmosphere to the fight, but Ortiz put a pin in it with his cautious, defensive style.

“I tried my best for the people,” Lopez said during his post-fight interview on ESPN, which broadcast the bout live. “I even tried to box going backward and he didn’t want to commit. Glory is next for me. None of these guys want to fight me. I’ll fight [Terence] Crawford at a catchweight. I’m here. I’m ready. I’ve always been ready. I’m younger, prettier, and a two-time unified champion at 25.

“We’re talking about a lightweight [he said of Keyshawn Davis, who called him out after winning his co-featured bout on the undercard]. He hasn’t done anything. Just like Vasiliy Lomachenko told me: If you want to fight me, you’ve got to get a world title. If you want to fight the king, get a world title.”

Ortiz said he would come out aggressive, though he didn’t. He came out as a southpaw, waiting on Lopez to come to him, instead of going to Lopez. Ortiz tried to engage Lopez in the last minute of the first round but was ineffective.

In the second, it was more of the same. Lopez inching forward, Ortiz going backward. With :17 left in the round, Lopez popped Ortiz with a right on the top of his head. It was the only punch of consequence in the round.

By the third, Ortiz’s game plan was evident. He borrowed from Sandor Martin, Lopez’s second comeback fight after the George Kambosos loss. He would try to be slick.

Ortiz would nimble, then move, nimble, then move. With 1:25 left in the third, Ortiz did open up enough to hit Lopez with a right to the face. Lopez quickly ducked out of danger, before any more harm could come. Lopez did finish strong, popping Ortiz a few times to the body.

Teofimo Lopez eats a right hand from Jamaine Ortiz during their 140-pound championship bout in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With roughly 1:35 left in the fourth, Lopez landed what up until then was his best punch—a left hook to the cheek. With less than 40 seconds left, Lopez coaxed Ortiz to come closer. Ortiz took the bait, crowding Lopez and hitting him with numerous shots, though none seemed to hurt Lopez.

By the fifth, Ortiz held a slight connect advantage, 39-37. He was countering to the body and backing away, showing immense respect to Lopez, yet being effective and annoying enough to be competitive. As the fifth round was about to close, Lopez threw up his hands as if to say “This guy isn’t fighting.”

Lopez began closing the gap in the sixth. Again, Ortiz was doing as little as he could to engage Lopez. Ortiz would tap Lopez as he neared, then veer away. He was not paying attention to the boos that began raining down in the last minute of the sixth.

If Ortiz was winning—he was winning ugly.

With 1:52 left in the seventh, referee Harvey Dock stopped the fight to look at a cut above Ortiz’s left eyebrow, which was caused by a clash of heads moments earlier. The cut began pouring a red stream down the left side of Ortiz’s face. The cut was handled by his corner and was never a problem. In the last 40 seconds of the seventh, Lopez popped Ortiz with a few clean shots that caught Ortiz’s attention.

By the eighth, Ortiz had slowed down. He was flat footed and more engaging. But did he bank enough equity in the earlier rounds to slow down? Boos again came down from the crowd.

With 1:06 left in the ninth, Ortiz popped Lopez on the cheek. And with 31 seconds left in the round, Lopez went flailing at Ortiz and fell to the canvas.

After nine, Ortiz held a slim 50-47 punch advantage.

In the 10th, Lopez connected with a counter right and a left to the body. Ortiz was back on his toes again, moving and trying to avoid any kind of firefight with Lopez.

Lopez closed strong enough to sweep the final three rounds on the official judges scorecards. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Ortiz started the 11th by pecking at Lopez, who closed the round by landing a right to Ortiz’s face.

In the final round, Ortiz, possibly feeling he was comfortably ahead, stayed away from Lopez, up on his toes. But it was not enough to avoid a Lopez right hand midway through the round. With 30 seconds left in the fight, Lopez just stood there as Ortiz bounced around him. Ortiz gave the round away, and regrettably, gave the fight away. Lopez wound up throwing 36 power shots in the last round, landing 14. That had a telling effect on the judges.

As Ortiz went from corner to corner after the final bell, he was greeted by boos from the crowd. As he flexed in his corner, Ortiz was booed again.

“There is no doubt I won,” Ortiz told The Ring later. “We had a game plan and I stuck with it. We thought we could frustrate him, make him come to me. He did. I was listening to my corner the whole time. I was winning. No doubt. I won that fight.

“He couldn’t hit me. I made him miss every time. I was countering. I was making him miss. I was hitting him with the jab and the check hook. I just felt like he wasn’t landing anything. I had him.

“Me and my team will go back and look at the fight. I deserve another shot. We’ll make some adjustments and come back stronger.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JSantoliquito