ORTIZ-LOPEZ: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
By John McCormick
An upset occurs when the party whom the majority expects to win winds up tasting defeat at the hands of the party that the majority expects to lose, thereby defying the conventional wisdom and logic. It would be difficult for one to think of a recent boxing event that fits this description better than this weekend's welterweight fight between Josesito Lopez (the underdog) and Victor Ortiz (the favorite). The fight was action-packed and exemplified why boxing is a unique and compelling sport, not to mention why some fighters are just not meant to be great. Let's examine the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Lopez-Ortiz.
Heading into the bout, there wasn't an ounce of doubt in my mind that Ortiz would walk through Lopez. I didn't even bother compiling predictions from my colleagues because I believed this fight was a huge mismatch and didn't even belong on Showtime. Boy, was I wrong.
Lopez put out the best performance of his career. Prior to this bout, Lopez had lost a split decision to Jessie Vargas on the Mayweather-Ortiz undercard. During that bout, Lopez showed a gallant effort but lacked the ability to sprint ahead of the mediocre Vargas. On that night, who would've thought that Lopez would go on to beat one of the main event's contestants only nine months later? Based on Lopez's showing against Vargas that night, such a thought would have been considered asinine. But sometimes we are all proven wrong and it is great for the sport of boxing.
Without upsets, the sport would be dull and predictable. With them, mystery and suspense makes the sport flourish. Lopez deserves all the credit in the world for taking the fight on very short notice after Andre Berto tested positive for performance enhancing susbtances. Lopez, a replacement who was discounted by everyone, provided the drama on Saturday by taking some flush shots from one of the welterweight division's hardest punchers, and then stepping on the gas pedal in order to prevent the judges from having any input in the outcome. Thank You Josesito Lopez. Job well done.
The fight that we saw last night was never supposed to happen in the first place. The date was originally scheduled for the rematch between Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz. Unfortunately, Berto tested positive for a banned substance and Lopez was called on to serve as Ortiz's foil while Ortiz got ready for what was supposed to be a Spetemeber pay-per-view fight against Saul Alvarez. Berto's positive test result marked the second time within a one month period that a highly anticipated rematch was cancelled (the other bout being the rematch between the positive-testing Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan).
Random drug testing is a great thing for boxing. It ensures that both men are clean and sets up an even playing field for men whose lives could be at risk. I have inclination that the demand for random drug testing in boxing will grow in the years to come. In the event that top level fighters continue to test positive, boxing might be dealt a harder threat than any incompetent judge could ever pose.
A week prior to Saturday night's fight, Golden Boy Promotions announced that Victor Ortiz would be challenging Saul Alvarez for the WBC 154-pound title on September 15th in Las Vegas. Lopez felt he was being overlooked due to the premature announcement and it turns out that he was. It would be hard to imagine that Golden Boy Promotions isn't dreadfully regretting the announcement as Alvarez is now left without an opponent. Erislandy Lara would be a great match up for Alvarez, but will Golden Boy match them up? Don't hold your breath. It is clear that Alvarez's promoters are attempting to make him look good in his first time headlining a pay-per-view event and Lara wouldn't comply with that request. Does Alvarez belong on pay-per-view in the first place? I think not. While he is a fan friendly fighter, boxing fans' monthly subscriptions to HBO and Showtime should be a sufficient price tag to see the untested, red headed, golden egg.
Is there a correlation that Victor Ortiz comes from the same setting as the Wizard of Oz film? Throughout his career, Ortiz seems to be in the same dilemma as the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion; he has no brain, no heart, and no courage.
During his bouts against Marcos Maidana, Floyd Mayweather, and Josesito Lopez, Ortiz has made horrible judgments when aggravated, has quit when things get rough, and has looked relieved when they are over. Never have I seen a man so happy to lose a fight. Victor Ortiz is a hard puncher with great skills but he should never compete on an elite level again. A heart of a champion requires one to dig down deep when they are faced with a challenge and Ortiz has yet to show that he has that. A few years ago, we saw Arthur Abraham fight nearly an entire bout with Edison Miranda while having a broken jaw. I am not saying he should've fought through it but history shows us that it can be done. Ortiz's corner, the thousands of fans at the Staples Center, and the millions of fans watching live on television wanted him to continue. He didn't care and the little boy from Kansas showed its face once again. There is nothing wrong with not having heart or courage but it is needed on an elite level in this sport. Sarurday's bout between Ortiz and Lopez came nearly on the exact date of the three year anniversary of the last time Ortiz fought at the Staples Center. Marcos Maidana left with his hand raised that night and Ortiz left with a smile. Is the Staples Center a curse for Ortiz? I don't think so. Ortiz's curse lies within the center of his chest.
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