The Marcos Maidana-Victor Diaz fight last night on HBO was a classic. Although it only lasted six rounds, it was six rounds that featured four knockdowns and non-stop, nuclear bombs thrown from the opening bell.
Ortiz was the obvious favorite of this fight. A young, aggressive fighter from Oxnard, California, Ortiz is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, and is being groomed for bigger and better things.
I didn't know anything about Maidana. Generally, in these kind of after-dark fights, they throw in a "tomato can" as a resume and confidence builder. From the start, it was obvious he was no run-of-the-mill journeyman fighter. He had excellent speed, great ring distance, and a powerful right hand.
In the first round, both fighters forgot about their jabs and threw power punches. Ortiz seemed to play to the partisan Staples crowd and was looking to knock out Maidana. He knocked him down with about 70 seconds left in the round. Inexplicably, Maidana dropped Ortiz just 20 seconds later.
After the second round, I thought the fight was over. After two minutes of action, Ortiz dropped Maidano and then dropped him again with 10 seconds left. At that point, I thought Ortiz was just too strong of a fighter for Maidano and it was over. Maidano looked like a beaten fighter.
Looks like I was wrong.
In my opinion, the third round was the turning point of the fight. Ortiz won the round, but he looked to tire a bit from all the action in the first two rounds. He also looked surprised that Maidano was still in the ring after the punishment from the second round.
One thing I noticed, which was later confirmed by Ortiz's trainer, was he kept bringing his hands down and forgetting his jab. It was obvious he was looking to put on a show with a big knockdown. After the fourth round, he was exhorting Ortiz to keep his hands up and keep moving
Against a lesser fighter, Ortiz could have continued with these mistakes and been fine. Except Maidano was 26-1, with his only loss being a questionable one to Andriy Kotelnik in Germany. He was a seasoned professional with speed and power.
In the fifth, it all unraveled for Ortiz.
After continuing to throw big shots, Ortiz caught a left-hook bomb from Maidana that opened up a huge gash over his right eye. Maidana continued to catch him with vicious right hands and, it became apparent, that Ortiz had no defense from those big rights.
In the sixth, the inexplicable happened.
Ortiz basically quit.
Yes, he may have been hurt but he was still ahead on the scorecards. There was absolutely no reason Ortiz shouldn't have continued except that he didn't want to. After a knockdown, he waved his hands off and the fight was over.
This was a great fight with action from the beginning to the end. Maidana has to be taken seriously as one of the top junior welter-weights. He has a suspect chin, but his right hand and speed are world-class.
The real question is what will happen with Victor Ortiz?
After hearing his background story, there is no reason to not love Ortiz. His parents abandoned him and his three siblings when he was only 11-years-old. He essentially raised himself and found a salvation in boxing.
In spite of these odds, he is a very charismatic and engaging young man (he's only 22). It's almost impossible not to like or root for him.
His comments at the end of the fight were, if nothing else, cryptic. Ortiz gave nothing away from Maidana saying the better man won. It was his comments about "still wanting to talk when he's old" and "not wanting to fall on his shield" that were puzzling.
Boxing is a brutal and unrelenting sport. A rational person doesn't get in the ring as a professional. It literally means having the mentality to either kill or be killed in the ring.
I wonder if Ortiz really wants to be in there.
I could be wrong; he's a very young fighter and he could have been intimidated by the large crowd at the Staple Center. It was his first fight as a headliner in such a large arena.
I'll be very interested to follow the fights of both fighters. Maidana is a warrior who, in the foreseeable future, could fight some of the biggest names in the game. He's very exciting with a ton of heart. I absolutely love it when an underdog wins and has to be taken seriously.
I hope Ortiz rebounds from this loss. He has a ton of talent and needs a couple of fights to bring back his confidence.
He fought a horrible fight. He didn't box. His hands were down. He lunged in way too often.
Hopefully, he'll look at the tape of this fight and learn from his mistakes.