By Allan Fox: Former 2 division world champion Devon Alexander (27-4, 14 KOs) and former WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz (32-6-2, 25 KOs) will be looking to get back in contention this Saturday night in their fight on Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] on Fox at the Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Texas.
(Photo credit: Ruben Ramirez)
I would say Alexander and Ortiz are saddling up to the last chance saloon this Saturday night, but they’ve already been there and failed. They’re still getting chances on live television. It just makes you wonder how many more times Ortiz and Alexander will be given opportunities.
There are a lot of boxing fans that question whether Ortiz has the heart for the sport. He’s quit in several winnable fights during his career, and he’s had 4 separate long layoffs that have hurt his ability to rebuild. The constant layoff has prevented Ortiz from being able to get in a groove to take his career back to where it once was. Ortiz treats boxing like it’s a part time sport, and it’s not surprising that he’s failed to recapture a world title following his 4th round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2011. Ortiz is a good fighter, but he doesn’t give himself a chance to find out how good he is due to him being out of action so frequently.
The Ortiz-Alexander fight is scheduled for 12 rounds. Out of all the welterweights in the top tier, PBC has decided to have Alexander and Ortiz’s fight televised. To some boxing fans this is a waste of good television time, as neither of them is viewed as salvageable at this point in their careers. Alexander, 31, and the 31-year-old Ortiz both had their time, and now they’ve been forgotten largely. Alexander’s career imploded between 2013 and 2015. It was during this time that Alexander lost 3 fights. He came back recently after a 2-year layoff and beat Walter Castillo (26-4-1) by a 10 round unanimous decision last November in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Alexander looked good for the level of opponent he was facing, but he didn’t show the kind of talent that would indicate that he’s going to turn around and beat any of today’s best fighters at 147 like Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr.
Before Alexander’s career nosedived in 2013, he was one of the best fighters in the 140 and 147 lb. divisions from 2009 to 2012. Alexander had 3 good years in which he beat the likes of Andriy Kotelnik, Marcos Maidana, Junior Witter, Juan Urango, Randally Bailey, and Lee Purdy. Alexander’s career evaporated on him after he was beaten by Shawn Porter in December 2013.
Ortiz lost a 12 round decision to Porter. After a 10 round decision win over Jesus Soto Karass in June 2013, Alexander lost 2 fights in a row to Amir Khan and Aaron Martinez. After those losses, Alexander didn’t fight for 2 years until he came back against Walter Castillo last November to beat him by a 10 round unanimous decision in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Alexander looked good in that fight, but not good enough to beat the best fighters in the 147 lb. division like Keith Thurman, Porter or Errol Spence Jr.
Ortiz’s best years were 2009 and 2010. Ortiz had a shorter time frame as one of the best fighters in the 140 and 147 lb. division. Ortiz’s best wins over against Andre Berto, Antonio Davis, Mike Arnaoutis, Nate Campbell and Vivian Harrison. By 2011, Ortiz’s time as a top fighter was finished with him losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Josesito Lopez and Luis Collazo in 3 consecutive fights. Ortiz was known more for the fights he lost than the ones he won unfortunately. Ortiz quit in fights against Mayweather, Maidana and Lopez. Ortiz fought well briefly against Lamont Peterson in their fight in 2010, but then he seemed to come unglued in the second half of the fight when he started dealing with pressure.
Alexander is trying to come back from an addition to medication that side railed his career for 2 years. Alexander believes that when he’s at his best, he can’t be beat.
“I’m excited about this fight and I know Victor is too,” Alexander said to espn.om. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to showcase my talent. This is what I’ve been working hard for. I’m an all-around good fighter and I think my speed and quickness will be the difference. No one can hit me when I’m at the top of my game.”
The 147 lb. division is well stocked now with good fighters like Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Alexander probably doesn’t need to worry about Crawford, because with Top Rank. Alexander already lost to Porter in a one-sided fight. Granted, the defeat came during Alexander’s problem years with his addiction to painkillers, but still it’s a fight that he might have lost even during his best years. Thurman and Spence look hard to beat right now even if Alexander was still in his prime and not trying to come back from a 2-year layoff.
Alexander looked good in his comeback fight against Walter Castillo last November. I wouldn’t say Alexander performed better than the southpaw Ortiz in his last fight in blowing out Saul Corral in 4 rounds last July. That’s what’s so troubling about Ortiz. He can look so good against the right type of opponent, but then fall apart when he has to deal with adversity in his important fights. It doesn’t always take a great fighter to make Ortiz crumble. Ortiz looked good in the first 2 rounds against Andre Berto in April 2016, but then he fell apart in round 4 and was knocked down twice and stopped.
Ortiz should have been able to beat Berto, but he fell apart when he had to deal with some adversity in the 4th. We saw the same thing from Ortiz in his losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Luis Collazo, Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez. Ortiz had his moments in those fights, but then he lost his focus during the fights and was stopped. I’d like to think that Ortiz has improved since them, but there does no way know that because he’s not proven it by beating good opposition. Ortiz lost to Berto in his only fight in 2016, and then he fought just once in 2017 in defeating Saul Corral by a 4th round knockout. Ortiz is now fighting this Saturday on February 17 against Alexander. If Ortiz sticks to his pattern of fighting once a year, we won’t see him fight again until 2019. How does Ortiz expect to turn his career around with him fighting just 1 time per year?
It’s too bad there aren’t any big stars in the 147 lb. division for the winner or loser of the Ortiz-Alexander fight to compete against. The best that the winner of the Ortiz vs. Alexander fight can hope for is a fight against Danny Garcia, Brandon Rios, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr. or Thurman. Those aren’t big money fights. If Mayweather was still around, they could hope for that. Manny Pacquiao is old now at 39, and course he’s with Top Rank, so it’s not doable for the Ortiz-Alexander winner to face either of those guys. It’s not going to happen.
Getting a crack at Spence or Thurman will give Alexander or Ortiz a nice payday. It won’t be on PPV tough, because those guys are not huge stars. No one has stepped into the large shoes of Mayweather to become the next PPV attraction. Pacquiao stopped being a PPV fighter after the match-making that has been done for him by Top Rank went stale with them putting him in with guys the boxing public had no interest in seeing. Alexander wants to fight Spence, and he might get that chance of he looks good in beating Ortiz. That’s a big if though, because Ortiz can punch and he’ll be looking to score a knockout on Saturday. If Alexander doesn’t have a good portion of his boxing skills restored from before, he’s going to be in big trouble, because Ortiz can punch. Ortiz might not have a great chin, but he still has his power and his hand speed. To watch Ortiz on offense, he looks like hasn’t lost anything from his game. It’s when Ortiz is met with resistance where he crumbles mentally and falls apart at the seams.
Ortiz and Alexander are both at a crossroads. The loser is going to have to start thinking about other things besides fighting unless they’re alright with being a non-contender. The sanctioning bodies tend to be forgiving of fighters that are well known. They frequently rank guys that are long past their prime. Ortiz and Alexander aren’t ranked in the top 15 right now, but it’s possible the winner of their fight will be given a top 15 ranking, which will get the ball following for one of them likely getting a title shot in the near future.
Ortiz believes he’s still one of the best fighters at 147 despite the fact that he keeps getting beaten each time he steps it up. It’s ludicrous for Ortiz to say he’s one of the top fighters at 147 after his win over Saul Corral last July. That wasn’t a good enough win for Ortiz to say that he’s one of the best fighters in the welterweight division, especially when his previous fight was a 4th round knockout loss to a shot Andre Berto in April 2016.
Ortiz looked like a world beater in his 12 round unanimous decision victory over Andre Berto in April 2011. Both guys were knocked down in the fight, but Ortiz got up and sailed to an exciting 12 round decision victory. But just when things were looking good for Ortiz, he was beaten in 3 consecutive fights to Mayweather, Josesito Lopez and Luis Collazo. Each of those defeats took the air out of Ortiz’s career. I don’t think Ortiz ever mentally came back from his loss to Mayweather, because he looked like a shell of his former self when he lost to Lope in June 2012 when he quit on his stool after the 9th round due to a jaw injury. Ortiz stayed out of the ring for 1 ½ years after the defeat to Lopez. When Ortiz did come back, he made the mistake of fighting a still very live opponent in Collazo, who knocked him out in the 2nd round. Ortiz then took 10 months off after that loss and came back to defeat Manuel Perez by a 3rd round knockout in December 2014. Ortiz looked good in that fight and in his 8th round knockout win over Gilberto Sanchez Leon in December 2015. Staying out of the ring for 1 year after his win over Perez in 2014 was hard to understand. The inactivity for Ortiz wasn’t a smart thing for a fighter still trying to come back from his 3 straight losses against Mayweather, Lopez and Collazo.
“I’m going to keep coming forward until my hand is raised in victory. One day I will be the champion again and it starts (Saturday) in El Paso,” Ortiz said.
Well, if Ortiz beats Alexander, it would be surprising if we see him again in 2018. Like Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman, Ortiz is a once a year fighter. He does seem to be able or willing to fight more than one time per year, and that’s going to keep him from becoming a world champion. Thurman and Spence aren’t going to throw Ortiz a bone by giving him a voluntary title shot off of a win over Alexander. Ortiz is going to need to beat some of the relevant top contenders like Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter for him to be taken seriously. Beating Alexander isn’t going to be enough due to his career having gone to oblivion since 2014.
Alexander vs. Ortiz will be good fight between two faded guys on Saturday, but the winner isn’t likely going anywhere in boxing. This just an example of a network choosing to televise a couple guys that are well known by the casual and hardcore boxing fans for what they did many years ago. Neither of them has been relevant for a long time in the sport. It’s too bad Premier Boxing Champion doesn’t put their energy in televising young guys on their way up the ladder rather than fighters that have been over-the-hill for the last 4 to 7 years.