|Victor Ortiz vs. Marcos Maidana: The Next Great Chance
By Coyote Duran, Doghouse Boxing (June 26, 2009) Photo © Gene Blevins Hoganphotos/ Golden Boy Promotions
Oscar De La Hoya probably never thought he would ever get another opportunity to say the phrase ‘The Next Great Champ.’ Thanks to junior welterweight contender Victor Ortiz, ‘The Golden Boy’ might just get his next great chance. Otis Griffin might even get jealous.
In the riskiest fight of his five-year career, Ortiz, 24-1-1 (19), faces Marcos Maidana, 25-1 (24), on Saturday night (from the Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. Televised live on HBO’s ‘Boxing After
Dark’, 10 PM ET/9 PM central) in an appointment that will serve as perhaps a foreshadowing of what we can expect from a very young fighter with a much storied life.
The fact that Ortiz is where he is at this moment, life and career-wise, is amazing; especially due to being only 22 years old. Just the same, ‘Vicious’ Victor had a lot of growing up to do in a very short period of time. This rapid period of growth permeated his professional approach and has given him a wisdom and education few young fighters can boast.
The education, however, came at a cost. Abandoned by his father at age 12 (after his mother left a few years earlier), Ortiz and his brother and sister all became fighters, of a different sort, in a war of pure survival. It was a move out of ‘Joe Dirt’; only with a lot less laughs.
Instead of a slapstick search for deadbeats, Ortiz couldn’t run further from the idea of parental pursuit. It wasn’t as if the pain of losing a mother and father would go away. Ortiz had to make it go away and, at least, make everything OK. He did so by becoming a respectable amateur culminating in a June
2004 pro debut at lightweight; when in the first 2:01 of his career, Ortiz stopped Raul Montes in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The winning kept on keeping on, despite suffering a disqualification loss in his eighth fight against Corey Alarcon in June 2005. Just as Ortiz’ first fight ended with a first round knockout win, his first loss ended in the very same round. Not exactly a laudable benchmark, but in all fairness, the genuineness of referee David Denkin’s call (claiming Ortiz knocked Alarcon down for a second time during a break) remains up for grabs. Ortiz’ momentum wasn’t compromised for, less than three months later in his next fight, Ortiz easily decisioned Oliver Bolanos in four. Ortiz would fight twice more prior to the end of 2005; totaling six fights in the same year.
But it wasn’t until November 2007 that things turned a corner for the Oxnard-based southpaw (Ortiz is a born right hander). After defeating Emmanuel Clottey via TKO in ten, less than three months earlier, Ortiz blitzed former WBA 140-pound titlist Carlos Maussa with a short left in one. Dispatching an ex-titlist, even one in the sense of a faded journeyman who hadn’t won a fight since his loss to then-World Junior Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton, serves as ‘next step’ material and soon, ‘Vicious’ Victor was a serious name on the lips of fanatics and critics alike.
After severing ties with promoter Top Rank, Ortiz (unranked by THE RING) would sign with De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions; riding that momentum into consecutive, second round TKO victories over Jeffrey Resto and Mike Arnaoutis in December 2008 and last March, respectively. Resto and Arnaoutis, at one time, seen as future names in the 140-pound division, had their plans for the future unraveled further just as Ortiz’ own was so direly compromised years before. The murmurs would become solid, serious buzz. Amid the buzz resided some major debate on where Ortiz finally sat in the junior welterweight rankings and title picture. The timing was virtually perfect. The perfect opponent was just around the corner.
Marcos Maidana, rated at number ten by THE RING magazine, hasn’t had many opportunities to see the final round in his 26 pro outings. With the exception of a split decision loss in his last fight, a challenge for the ‘regular’ WBA super lightweight title, against current titleholder Andreas Kotelnik, Maidana’s only other fight to see the distance was against Daniel Carriqueo. That fight resulted in a six-round unanimous decision and was Maidana’s 10th start. With an over 92% knockout rate, it was no surprise for ‘El Chino’ to take out most of his opponents within four as evidenced in his signature 2006 bout; a third-round TKO win over former titlist Miguel Callist.
However, against Kotelnik last February, Maidana’s enthusiasm would get the better of him. The effort was there but was lost to a frustrating European style of defense that devalued even Maidana’s hardest shots. A former amateur standout himself, Maidana was relatively unfazed by the loss. Against Ortiz, in a fight promoted to sole main event status due to the cancellation of Chris John vs. Rocky Juarez (John was deep-sixed for medical and a sufficient replacement to face Juarez couldn’t be agreed on) the WBA’s ‘interim’ title is up for grabs.
As well-moved as both young junior welters have been in their almost chronologically matched careers (Ortiz made his pro debut eight days before Maidana), it makes perfect sense that they meet on Saturday. Although clearly not known by the casual fan, these fighters have given us a gift. One with an extremely high potential for violence and breathless entertainment. More importantly, we’re getting a true look at a fighter who could rule the junior welterweight division with an iron fist within three years.
Where each fighter excels varies in the most natural of ways. Ortiz, who filed bankruptcy in order to void his promotional contract with Top Rank took a big risk. Golden Boy, in turn, took a risk with Ortiz, albeit a lesser one. Ortiz also has the benefit of appealing to a wider audience. Already having experienced screen time on Golden Boy pay-per-views, Ortiz has gained all-important face time with fans who are starving for a new Hispanic sensation. Maidana has an explosive style and speed that will hook the major audiences, possibly regardless of his origins. Maidana also has the benefit of having that big moment in the lights against Kotelnik. It’s not just about the rounds. It’s about the vibe and knowing what’s at stake. Even if it is a belt that’s below either man’s standard of quality. Seriously.
But what both men share is power and with as much combined power as these two have, a likely outcome would be come in the form of a short night. Sadly, the possibility (Boy, it better be a miniscule one…) of a slow night looms. Can you see it now? Too much respect for each other’s force culminating in 12 rounds of feeling each other out?
Nah. Me neither. If anything, Maidana must use his quick hands and employ more toward Ortiz’ body, while consciously moving his head (not to mention moving entirely to Ortiz’ right). Fortunately, Maidana has exceptional conditioning and a need to hunt down his opponents as well. Ortiz must make certain to pay extra attention to keeping the top floor under high-level security while staying focused on throwing combos, working on that jarring uppercut on the inside and keeping a sharp eye out for a low-carried Ortiz right in order to get those hard, short lefts home.
What motivates the two is just as natural. Maidana digs the States and wants to be accepted by American fans in this all-important debut. He also knows he can’t sleep on Ortiz for a second. At the same time, Ortiz is motivated by his own momentum. A momentum that’s afforded by loss, mental debilitation and a raw versatility that (should Ortiz emerge from this battle relatively unscathed) will only refine with frequent competitive activity at the cost of his future opponents’ ledgers.
In a sense, the loss and mental debilitation Ortiz doles out is a metaphor for his own, simultaneously serving as a sort of therapy. A therapy that assures him that, now, everything will be OK.
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