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The Ballad of Victor Ortiz

Is the boxing career of Victor Ortiz over after his third straight loss? Steve Janoski argues that it should be.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, the world should be at Victor Ortiz's feet. It was, after all, just a few short years ago that this young, talented fighter, propelled by HBO and led by a cadre of world-class trainers, was rising to heights that only a fraction of boxers ever get a chance to see.

He'd come from the worst possible background - the son of illegal immigrants in a nation that deplores them, the product of a mother who abandoned the family and a violent father who drank too much before leaving himself - but the steep slope of his climb only made his ascension that much more impressive.

He was a good-looking kid in a land of crushed-nose brawlers, and that, along with his affable nature, seemed to signify the emergence of a new star birthed from boxing's dark world of whispering con-men and weekday club fights.

Five years later and it's all gone, courtesy, some might say, of the most vicious right hook that Luis Collazo has ever landed. But in truth, it began much earlier than that; after all, the fractures that cause us to crumble as adults are often scored out when we're children - young, innocent, and striving for affection and attention and understanding.
I suspect that Ortiz didn't get much of any of those things during his hard-knock upbringing, and his life since then has been one long journey in figuring out how to deal with abandonment issues that few of us can comprehend. That's all speculation, of course, and I am only guessing as to what goes on inside the man's head. But there is one undeniable truth: if your foundation is cracked, no amount of mortar can keep the walls from collapsing.

By now, Ortiz's foundation, if ever there was one, is destroyed, and all the athleticism and natural talent, all the boxing acumen he's soaked up over the years, can't make up for that.

We've known where this was headed for a long time. There were hints of his eventual fate in the statements he made after he quit in the ring during his 2009 bout with Marcos Maidana. During the post-fight interview, he did something that fighters rarely do: question whether or not the pugilistic path was one that he really wanted to explore any further.

"I have a lot of thinking to do," he told Max Kellerman.
But then he rebounded and won five of his next six fights, including the remarkable bout with Andre Berto that saw him get off the deck twice en route to a unanimous decision victory. I have to wonder though...maybe something happened to him on that April night in Connecticut. Maybe Berto's sledgehammer right hand did just a little bit too much damage, and broke whatever fragile weld was still holding things together.

After all, the rest of this story is well-documented: the Mayweather debacle, the Lopez fight, and finally last Thursday's bout with Collazo, which made little sense in the first place because if you're at a career crossroads in boxing, the last place you want to be is in the ring with the vicious streetfighter who's arrived at that same intersection.

And now it is over, and Ortiz, even if he doesn't retire right away, will fade off into that same night sky he once blazed through so brilliantly as he becomes yet another blinking footnote in the great tragic novel that is "Boxing."

But even though the cameras have turned off and the world will forget about him, the man will still exist. What is to become of him? Will anyone care? I don't know. Maybe he doesn't either. But I do hope that he doesn't spend the next 50 years wandering through this life, desperately fleeing the merciless demons that must haunt his every waking moment.

Eventually, a man's got to find peace. Sometimes, he's got to step away from the thing he loves in order to do that.

It's time for Victor Ortiz to step away.

Follow Steve Janoski on Twitter at @SteveJanoski

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