By Sean Crose
And then…it was all over for Victor Ortiz.
Truth be told, he had been dominating the fight up until that point. In fact, his opponent, Luis Collazo, appeared about eight rounds or so away from fading into oblivion. But then it happened. Collazo fired that fierce right hook at the end of round two.
And Ortiz’ hopes of a comeback crumbled with his body as it sank to the canvas near the ropes. The whole thing happened so abruptly that it was actually jarring to see. There Ortiz was, looking completely determined, then – whack – the whole bout was over and the Fox Sports team was on the screen talking about Sunday’s big game.
Give Ortiz this – he’s nothing if not entertaining, even in the midst of a crushing defeat. The fight was fast, but it wasn’t boring. Still, the man himself seemed to know he was done while the referee stood over him counting. Of course only Ortiz knows what it was like there on the canvas, but he really didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get up.
And who could blame him? The fact of the matter is, that right hook from Collazo may well have rung in the twilight of Ortiz’ career. The man’s lost before, of course, but not under such circumstances. This was supposed to be a stepping stone match for the guy, a humble return that would inform a basic cable audience that a fighter of promise, a fighter many had once known, had returned.
Indeed, Ortiz appeared intensely serious both before and during the bout. His aggression was impressive, too. He darted towards his opponent at the opening bell and did so again at the beginning of round two. Here was a guy who was clearly determined to win. You could see it in his eyes and in the force with which he threw his punches.
Yet none of it mattered. It’s a fact Ortiz himself may have been aware of as the rest of us wondered if he would actually rise off the canvas. The whole experience must have been truly crushing for the man. Sometimes you just get the fight beaten out of you.
Whether Ortiz has some fight left in him or not, however, may well be irrelevant at this point. His loss to Floyd Mayweather invited a comeback. So did his loss to Joesesito Lopez. It’s difficult, however, to see Ortiz managing a successful comeback after what Collazo did to him at the Barclays Center.
Still, one never knows. How many times has Bernard Hopkins been written off, for instance? What about Muhammad Ali? How many times did boxing fans assume that he was done before he went on to yet again regain the heavyweight title? It pays to be realistic, however. And right now it’s very hard to imagine Ortiz besting the likes of Floyd Mayweather. Or Timothy Bradley. Or Manny Pacquiao. Or even Keith Thurman.
As of this moment, Ortiz is no longer generating electricity in the world of boxing. It’s as simple as that. And, barring something extraordinary happening, he won’t generate it ever again. Yet that might not be such a bad thing. Sometimes in life we just have to move on. And it may be that time for Ortiz. The guy’s made a lot of money, after all. What’s more, he’s had a good run. He’s given his all, entertained and battled the best in the business. How many other fighters can say that?
The last thing anyone should want to see from Ortiz right now is a long, slow slide. Evaluate your situation, Victor. If lightning strikes and you realistically have reason to hope, then stick with the sport. Just keep in mind that lightning rarely strikes like we want it to and retiring at 26 is better than being retired at 27.
You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.