By SOLANGE REYNER Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES—Victor Ortiz says he’s already been through the wringer, so a fight with title implications against a knockout-happy fighter won’t be too big of a challenge.
The 22-year-old Ortiz will fight Argentine Marcos Maidana on June 27 for the World Boxing Association light-welterweight interim title. The winner will get a shot at either Amir Khan or Andreas Kotelnik for the WBA title. Kotelnik and Khan also fighting June 27.
Maidana (25-1) has knocked out 24 opponents in 26 fights and has taken out 10 fighters in the first round. Twenty-one of his opponents have not made it past the third round.
Those numbers don’t phase Ortiz, a Kansas native who says he was abandoned by both parents before he was 12.
“My life is hell most of the time, but its OK,” said Ortiz (24-1-1, 19 KOs). “It’s still hell everyday I wake up, that’s why I don’t mind getting in the ring with one of these guys.”
Ortiz’ journey to this stage is one that many probably wouldn’t envy. He said he came home at age 7 to find his mom gone. Five years later, his dad also was out the door.
From there, Ortiz carved his own way. He made a living by either working in the fields picking corn, alfalfa and beans or “slanging things,” and lived in a trailer with no electricity where his parents left him.
“Stuff happens,” Ortiz said. “My sister raised me for a while, I lived on my own from 12 and on. From there, I started slanging some stuff here and there, not the best of things to do, but I was 12.”
He made his own way in boxing, too. He won the 2003 PAL amateur national championships without a trainer and made it to the 2004 Olympic trials before falling short.
That year, Ortiz moved to California to train with ex-world champion Robert Garcia. In 2008, he signed on with Golden Boy Promotions to garner more recognition. Now, he’s being touted as one of the strongest prospects to come out of Oscar de la Hoya’s camp.
To get a shot at a potential title 25 fights into his career is something he is relishing.
“Honestly, it didn’t happen fast enough but I’m very patient,” said Ortiz, who uses his past to fuel him. “I guess at the end of the day, I appreciate life. Sometimes I get caught up in the whole mist of my parents, but it’s reality. I’m not the only one going through it so I can’t sit back and curl up like a little pansy. I know there’s kids out there that get left everyday so it’s not a big deal you have to learn how to channel it and deal with it and take it to the top.”
Golden Boy is hoping he’ll do just that.
“Their stars are either retired or don’t have long in the sport, so as they retire, naturally, there will be a void. Victor is being built, groomed and positioned to fill that void,” said Rolando Arellano, Ortiz’s manager.
Ortiz could face his toughest test in Maidana, who fought Kotelnik – the top dog in the division – to a split decision Feb. 7.
Ortiz isn’t the only fighter headlining the event at Staples Center. Chris John and Rocky Juarez will fight in a rematch for John’s WBA featherweight championship belt.
John (42-0-2, 22 KOs) fought Juarez (28-4-1, 20 KOs) to a draw in an exciting bout in late February and Juarez is seeking his first world title.