By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For FOX Deportes
I felt a little bad for Victor Ortiz, watching the end of his fight against Josesito Lopez.
Here on my phone was the picture of a man bewildered, stung, hurt (literally) shocked. He’d just had his jaw broken by a guy you can’t help but be happy for, Lopez.
I cautioned that this could happen in a post last week leading up to the fight. I pointed out that Lopez had nothing to lose and so much to gain, so much motivation to win Saturday’s fight against Ortiz at the Staples Center in L.A.
Lopez was the patsy, the fall guy not given a chance in you-know-where to win the fight. He was losing on the scorecards when he uncorked a punch that made Ortiz open his mouth, it landed with so much authority. And Lopez was still losing when the unbelievable happened.
That open mouth meant cracked jaw, and Ortiz could not answer the bell to start the 10th. Fight over. Celebration time. A title belt for the skinny dude from Riverside who later called the win his “’Rocky’ moment.”
While the party was just starting in the ring for Lopez, cameras followed Ortiz back to his locker room, where he looked into a mirror and kneeled down, head in his hands.
I couldn’t help but wonder, is Ortiz the new Fernando Vargas?
Some of us remember El Feroz, the brash Oxnard kid who at least once, came to the ring preceded by Aztec dancers in what could have been the greatest Chicano ring entrance ever. Vargas weighed only slightly more than Ortiz for his biggest fights, though Victor in his prime is much more defined in terms of muscle structure.
Vargas was a top contender, a guy who challenged the best believing he could knock out the champs. But he could never win the biggest fights. He’ll probably be remembered for losses to Oscar de la Hoya and Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley (twice) more than anything else, sad to say.
Ortiz, who now lives in Vargas’ beloved Oxnard, lost to Floyd Mayweather. And he lost a fight to Lopez that would have given him a shot at Saul “Canelo” Alvarez later this year for another title. It seems as though he has a hard time winning the highest-stakes fights.
Like Vargas did.
Ortiz, only 25, can still right his own ship and turn things around. There’s talk of a rematch with Lopez. But that chance to fight Canelo is gone for the rest of the year, at least.
Meanwhile, the victory for Lopez is a very good thing for boxing, even if it sucks for Golden Boy Promotions, who had the Canelo-Ortiz fight all pre-arranged if Ortiz won Saturday.
Fans want to see someone just like them have their moment in the sun, and in that sense, Lopez is a hero. And now, Top Rank can have 16 de septiembre weekend in Vegas all to themselves for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez, a fight that a lot of folks would rather see, anyway.
Golden Boy is going to be fine. It will find a decent opponent for Canelo for another day, and life will go on. Guys are already throwing their names out there saying they’ll take on Alvarez. Canelo will be a big draw no matter whom he faces. Mexicans love the kid.
But now is about celebrating the win of a lifetime for Josesito (Little Jose) Lopez. It’s about Ortiz healing up and continuing his career and finding a way to put the loss behind him.