If you’re asked to name the most exciting American boxer in the world right now you might struggle for a minute before coming up with the name of Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs). From his recent performances in the ring there’s not really anybody else who comes close.
The Devon Alexander vs Timothy Bradley bout was between two of the nation’s top boxers, but was a monumental bust. And long gone are the days of Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Boom Boom Mancini, and even Mike Tyson.
Let’s face it, what was once an American-dominated sport has been taken over by fighters from other parts of the boxing world, such as Mexico, Asia, and Russia. Nobody’s accusing Ortiz of being the best boxer north of the 49th parallel, but I can’t think of any other that’s as exciting. Roy Jones is past his prime, Bernard Hopkins puts fans to sleep, Kelly Pavlik’s in rehab, and James Kirkland just got KO’d in the first round. Mind you, Chad Dawson and Paul Williams usually put on pretty entertaining fights.
Even so, I wouldn’t say Ortiz wins by default. He’s just one of those fighters who go into the ring to knock you out or get knocked out and so far he’s managed to do both in spectacular fights with Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto. His fight with Berto (27-1, 21 KOs) was obviously his most impressive since he beat an undefeated champion in his very first bout at welterweight. But Ortiz seemed to be possessed that night and the look in his eyes told the story.
It just appeared he was so determined and there was nothing in the world that could stop him from accomplishing his goal of taking the WBC title away from Berto. Arturo Gatti made a living out of engaging in slugfests throughout his career and it looks like Ortiz could follow in his footsteps.
And just like Gatti, the 24-year-old southpaw Ortiz puts up quite a fight when he loses too. The bout against Maidana back in June 2009 was a mini-classic. It was six rounds of war with Maidana finding himself on the deck once in the first round and twice in the second. Ortiz was also dropped in the first and eventually stopped by the Argentinean in the sixth.
Ortiz then won four fights in a row. Only two were by knockout, but he dropped his opponents in the other two bouts. The winning streak ended when he fought to a 10-round draw with Lamont Peterson despite dropping him twice in the third round.
Against Berto, Ortiz dropped him in the first and sixth rounds and was on the deck himself in the second and sixth. It looked like Ortiz was out of it in the sixth after Berto nailed him with a wicked right hand. But not only did he get up, he then sent Berto crashing to the canvas before the round ended. Ortiz won the title on a unanimous decision even though he had a point deducted for hitting behind the head in the 10th round.
While Ortiz can certainly thrill the fans with his heart and style, he’s going to take a lot of punishment during fights. This means he’s probably not going to enjoy a long career. The best thing for him to do is take on the best there is in the welterweight division and make as much money as he can. Win or lose, the fans will pay to watch him fight as long as he keeps entertaining them they way he’s been doing so far.