Everyone makes mistakes, its part of the growth process in life. As we get older, through our experiences we learn what and what not to do in certain situations. But, if we continue to make the same mistakes when put in similar situations, a pattern develops and the mistakes turn into habits. We tend to see this happen a lot not only in life but very often in boxing as well.
It’s been said many times that boxing is just as much if not more mental than it is physical. A boxer can be very gifted athletically and have all the physical tools in the world, but if he breaks down mentally in the heat of battle, those gifts can become useless.
Victor Ortiz is one of those fighters who are blessed with tremendous speed, power and athleticism, but the area where he may be questioned in, is the mental discipline department. You can find out a lot about a fighter by how well he deals with adversity. Ortiz has had to deal with adversity on more than one occasion in his career, and hasn’t always responded well to it.
We all remember that fateful night back in June of 2009 when Ortiz chose not to continue in his fight against Marcos Maidana, and he resigned in the sixth round. He had severe swelling under both eyes and was really starting to get beat up in the fight. One can understand why Ortiz could go on no longer, but the statements he made after the fight were surprising. "I'm young, but I don't think I deserve to be getting beat up like this. So I have a lot of thinking to do," he said. Getting beat up comes with the territory in boxing. All fighters know the risks before they enter the ring, and realize there is a chance that they can get hurt in there. Another instance where Ortiz seemed to unravel a bit was in his fight against Lamont Peterson back in Dec of 2010, which ended in a majority draw. Ortiz seemed early on to be able to consistently push back Peterson in the fight and scored two knockdowns in the third round. Peterson made an adjustment as the fight wore on and instead of backing straight up; he stepped off to his left to avoid the on rushing Ortiz. He was also becoming very effective with the lead right hand and was able to hurt Ortiz with it, forcing him to back up. It appeared as though once Ortiz realized that he couldn’t back up and bully the smaller Peterson he became discouraged. He even started to retreat at points in the fight. The most recent display of Ortiz breaking down mentally was back in Sept. last year when he took on Floyd Mayweather in defense of his newly acquired WBC Welterweight Title. Mayweather seemed to be out boxing Ortiz throughout the fight even though Ortiz was applying pressure. Mayweather was very successful with the lead right hand and once again we saw Ortiz retreating at points in this fight just as he did against Peterson. A bizarre occurrence happened in the fourth round when Ortiz had Mayweather up against the ropes. He was unable to land cleanly on Mayweather, and in an act of frustration he intentionally thrust into him head first, causing referee Joe Cortez to deduct two points from Ortiz. He then apologized and hugged and kissed Mayweather. As the action was about to continue Ortiz once again tried to apologize and reached to hug Mayweather. Afterward he brought his hands down by his sides leaving his face unprotected. Mayweather then hit him with a left right combination knocking him out. Ortiz recently admitted that he intentionally head butted Mayweather, and was trying to break his nose in retaliation for what he believed was illegal use of the elbows by Mayweather.
There was a moment in between the Peterson and Mayweather fights where Ortiz did receive some redemption for his mental lapses of the past. Last April, he and Andre Berto put on a fight of the year type performance in which Ortiz had to come off the canvass twice to win the WBC Welterweight title by unanimous decision. Both fighters were down twice in this fight as it was a back and forth struggle. Although Ortiz was knocked down, he didn’t seem really hurt like he was in the past. There was no swelling in his face, and no frustrating moments in which he was having trouble hitting Berto, like in the Mayweather fight. Berto appeared to struggle when the fight moved to the inside. He started to tire as the fight wore on. Even though Ortiz was knocked down twice and the fight was competitive in spots, he seemed to take control from the sixth round on. It appeared as though Ortiz was able to take full advantage of Berto’s vulnerability on the inside.
Will Ortiz be able to do it again on Feb.11 or will Berto make the adjustments needed to come up with the victory? An even bigger question to ask is if Berto is able to make adjustments in this fight and make it tougher for Victor this time, how will he react? One can only hope that we get the same type of fight that we got the first time, but given Victor’s past, I’m not so sure.