By: Jake Donovan
While his future as a pro boxer remains in doubt, Victor Ortiz continues to fight for his freedom outside the ring.
The 31-year old former welterweight titlist—who was arrested on September 24 and charged with three counts of felony sexual assault—pled not guilty during a hearing Wednesday morning at Ventura County (Calif.) Superior Court.
Having also waived his right to a prelim within 60 days of arraignment, the case will be next heard on December for early disposition.
Charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and forcible anal and genital penetration by foreign object were filed on March 19 by an adult female—whose name is withheld due to Victim’s Right to Confidentiality—claiming to have been assaulted by the boxer inside an Oxnard city residence.
The matter prompted a months-long investigation by the Oxnard Police Department’s Family Protection Unit, which concluded in September that there existed sufficient grounds to file criminal charges. An arrest warrant was issued on September 23, to which Ortiz responded in surrendering to authorities one day later.
Ortiz was released on $100,000 bond, which led to false speculation that his freedom meant he could proceed with a scheduled September 30 bout versus fellow Californian and former sparring partner John Molina Jr, due to air live on FS1. The brass at Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) cleared the air the following day, announcing that Ortiz was removed from the card altogether, and that Molina Jr. would find his way onto a future show.
The filed charges were also ruled to have violated his probation, which was revoked during Wednesday’s hearing and now also assigned to the December 3 court date.
Ortiz was serving two years probation from a DUI in 2016–exactly two years prior to his aforementioned latest arrest. He pled guilty to the DUI charge, with his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) exceeding the 0.08% limit. His plea came in exchange for the probation sentence in lieu of jail time.
Once upon a time, Ortiz (32-6-3, 25KOs) was viewed as a rising star to watch but has remained best-known—in the ring, at least—for several stoppage losses. His June ’09 loss to Marcos Maidana aired live on HBO, complete with an on-air post-fight interview that left Ortiz wondering if even wanted to continue as a boxer.
It took nearly two years to restore his image, his April ’11 off-the-canvas points win over Andre Berto to win a welterweight title paying homage to the old ‘winning cures many things’ adage. It certainly didn’t hurt that the boxers traded knockdowns and a lot punches in their Fight of the Year-level slugfest.
Ortiz’ title reign was short-lived, although it produced his most high-profile bout to date—an infamous 4th round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Their Sept. ’11 Pay-Per-View headliner in Las Vegas was riddled in controversy, with Ortiz flirting with disqualification after a deliberate headbutt cost him a point on the scorecards and ultimately his cool in the ring. The oft-aloof boxer repeatedly apologized to Mayweather immediately following the incident, to the point of failing to acknowledge that action had resumed as he was subsequently knocked out by a Mayweather combination.
The loss was the first of three straight stoppage defeats. His 9th round loss to Josesito Lopez nine months later—in which Ortiz was unable to continue after suffering a broken jaw earlier in the bout and sustained serious punishment in the later rounds—ruined laid plans for a Sept. ’12 showdown with then-unbeaten 154-pound titlist Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Not even a 15-month ring break—which included a stint on Dancing With the Stars and filming for his acting debut in “The Expendables 3”—was enough to turn things around, as his comeback ended in disaster when former titlist Luis Collazo flattened him in the 2nd round of their Jan. ’14 clash on a New York City card staged during Super Bowl week.
He’s since managed a 3-1-1 run in his last five starts. The non-wins came against his more relevant competition along that stretch, a knockout loss to Berto in their April ’16 rematch and a 12-round draw with fellow former titlist Devon Alexander in his most recent bout this past February, both of which aired live in prime time on Fox TV.
It could very well be the final in-ring bout of his 14-year career, though his future as a free citizen remain very much up in the air. Each count comes with a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, none of which are eligible for parole prior to a minimum of 85% of prison time served.