After being knocked down in the first round on a nasty right hand from Marcos Maidana, Golden Boy phenom hopeful Victor Ortiz was vindicated on commentary by HBO's Max Kellerman. Kellerman, the color commentary man of the future for boxing's biggest broadcaster, noted the rumblings about Ortiz's chin, but that there had been none about his heart, and as he had recovered from a knockdown from the vicious-punching Maidana and scored two more knockdowns (making three total) of the Argentinian semi-underdog, Kellerman noted that his heart had proven out.
He had yet to see the rest of the fight.
When Ortiz was cut, his opposite eye swollen, and another knockdown suffered in the sixth round, Ortiz quit. There is no other way to put it: Ortiz quit. With no desire to continue on in the first fight of his career where he met resistance from the opposing pugliist, Ortiz waved his arms and let the doctor call the fight on the cut.
Ortiz, 22, has had quite a life already. His mother left he and his siblings one day when he was quite young in Kansas. A few years later, his father disappeared. He made his way to California, and then into boxing. Ortiz, though young, is quite a self-made man. You absolutely cannot disregard the guts he's shown as a human being; in similar circumstances, many would have given up, become inhabitants of society's outskirts, and never gotten anywhere near Ortiz's level as a professional athlete.
But that, like it or not, is the past. Ortiz is a man now. And as a professional, he had never seen a specimen like Maidana, the brawler with the big punch who refused to back off. He wasn't the first good fighter Ortiz had faced, but he was the first that offered a real challenge once the bell had rung. He was Ortiz's test. And Ortiz failed.
The loss was no shame. Maidana was ranked No. 10 by Ring Magazine coming into the fight, with a razor-thin loss to 140-pound titlist Andriy Kotelnik his only setback. The fight, while designed to be an Ortiz win, was no gimme whatsoever, and it turned into one of 2009's best, most thrilling affairs, even if the ending left you wanting a little bit something more.
Personally, I came away impressed with Maidana as a never-say-die warrior, a guy with huge huevos and a bigger right hand. Fight alone, Ortiz's loss was no great big issue. He wasn't able to finish a double-tough guy. It happens. Fighters lose fights when they take risks, and this was a risk by Ortiz.
But his post-fight comments are troubling. Some are already wondering whether or not Ortiz will ever step into a ring again, and they're perfectly right to do so. The 22-year old slugger from Oxnard was outgtunned by a nasty opponent, but he quit. And not only did he quit, but after the fight, he remarked, "I'm young, but I don't think I deserve to be getting beat up like this. I got a lot of thinking to do."
There are a LOT of fighters that came up through the ranks very fast, were deemed the next big thing, and then met the brick wall. For Ortiz, it might well be Maidana, the heavy-handed slugger that wouldn't accept a loss despite three knockdowns. After he'd beaten Ortiz up fairly badly, he made him quit. In Maidana, there was no quit. In Ortiz, there seemed to be nothing but.
I do not mean to disrespect Victor Ortiz, but his post-fight comments invited this sort of criticism. Does he love boxing? Is he willing to take the lumps? Is he mentally capable of being the fighter that Golden Boy Promotions want him to be?
I'm guessing he's not. These kind of comments don't just happen. As beaten up as he was, Ortiz appeared to be clear-headed and aware of what he was saying. He's always been a very honest young man -- it has been part of his charm, not holding back, not worrying about saying "the right thing."
Honesty has revealed something about Victor Ortiz that stings. He's just not going to be able to live up to the hype unless something drastically changes. He felt another fighter's drive and determination, and he didn't like it. Sad as it may be, "Vicious" Victor Ortiz doesn't really look to be part of boxing's future.