by Robert Morales
It was about noon Wednesday in Los Angeles, and Victor Ortiz was some eight hours away from his second news conference in two days promoting his Sept. 17 welterweight title defense against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).
Speaking by telephone, Ortiz was very direct when asked what he thinks about the way his career has gone since he was lambasted by reporters after he was stopped by Marcos Maidana in the sixth round in June 2009 at Staples Center. There were more than a few reporters who thought Ortiz quit, and they didn't let him forget with story after story regarding his alleged lack of courage.
Of course, he showed he had plenty when he took Andre Berto's welterweight title in April in a grueling bout.
"I really don't care about what anyone has to say about me," said Ortiz, 24, of Ventura. "The media destroyed me, so therefore they gave me no love for anything. You guys took my heart from me and ripped it out. At the end of the day, I still have heart. I know what I'm here for. I know what I'm going to do to Mayweather, period."
Ortiz was asked how his life has changed since winning the world title. He began answering the question, then switched back to his annoyance of the naysayers.
"My life hasn't changed at all yet," he said. "I did ride in a jet for the first time. I did get picked up by some limos. In the media, though, I guess some people kind of love me now.
"I feel great about myself. I felt great even after Maidana. I made a small mistake and everyone flipped on me. I feel great, always have. I know what I'm here to do. I know what I was born to do. The question I have is, do you know what you are here to do?"
Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) reiterated he is certain he is going to hand Mayweather his first defeat. He's just not yet sure how he is going to do it.
"I just don't know what my coach has in store for me," he said.
A Two-Fight Plan
Ortiz, who fights for Golden Boy Promotions, said fighting Mayweather was a subject he broached with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer prior to challenging Berto.
"I asked him around the time I asked about Andre Berto," Ortiz said. I said, 'I want Berto first and then after that I want Mayweather.' His jaw dropped."
Schaefer recalled that he came up with the idea of Ortiz first fighting Berto, and that a lot of people thought he was crazy. Not Ortiz, though.
"He said, 'I want to go and fight Berto and after that I want (Manny) Pacquiao or Mayweather,' " Schaefer said.
Schaefer said during a particular conversation with Mayweather, the man nicknamed "Money" said he wanted Ortiz.
"It was actually his idea," Schaefer said of Mayweather. "He liked the idea. He wants challenges. He will fight anyone. There has to be a deal structure that makes sense to him. If the deal structure makes sense, I don't think there is anybody he turns down."
Third Time Could Be The Charm For Antillon
Urbano Antillon has had two major fights in his career, and he lost both of them. He was stopped in the ninth round by Miguel Acosta in a battle for an interim lightweight world title in July 2009 in Mexico. Then, last December, he challenged Humberto Soto for his world title and lost a narrow unanimous decision in a thriller in Anaheim, Calif.
He’s just 28, but title shots don’t just grow on trees even with four major governing bodies. And as good as he’s been, Antillon can’t afford to let yet another one pass without success. Or so it would seem. But Antillon has an interesting outlook on that. One that is both somewhat surprising, yet refreshing.
During a telephone conversation Tuesday from his camp in Big Bear, Calif., Antillon was asked if he has thought about the notion that he could run out of title shots and finish what has been a fine career without becoming a world champion.
“I have to say that maybe a couple of years ago it would have affected me mentally,” said Antillon, who July 9 will challenge Brandon Rios for his lightweight title at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. (on Showtime). But I’m in a state of mind now where I’m really happy with my career. I’m really excited about what I’m doing now. It’s just like an extra bonus, when you wake up in the morning and enjoy what you do.
“To fight at the level of world champions, to compete against them, that was one of my goals and dreams to be there. I have to say, coming off that fight with Soto, I’m already at that level.”
Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs) cautioned a reporter, making sure he realized he wasn’t insinuating he is apathetic about winning a major championship.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say I’m satisfied, that I’m where I want to be,” he said. “I still have the hunger to push harder and achieve the maximum. If I never win that world title, I’m going to say I had a good run at it and it was very enjoyable.”
Oh, This Would Mean a Hell of A lot
At further push later in the conversation, Antillon came clean – he really wants to take Rios’ belt.
“It would mean a lot, not just for myself, but my family,” he said. “I’ve had a great group of supporters. It would mean a lot to all of us. One of my goals is to win a world title and defend it.”
And, Antillon said, because many of his backers want him to “shut that guy up.”
Meaning Rios, as the two have exchanged barbs because Rios claims Antillon said something about his wife.
“I guess I’m the one that pissed him off,” Antillon said. “Supposedly, I’m the one talking smack. Whatever, they say what they want. I think he is pretty stupid, pretty childish – all of the above. He is just a childish guy.”
Antillon mentioned how Rios flipped him the bird.
“I’m not going to drop to his level,” Antillon said. “I supposedly talked smack about his wife. I mentioned his wife, but nothing offensive to her or him. They can play victim to whatever they want. It is what it is. They can deal with it the way they want. I’m going
to deal with it the way I want. I’m going to go in there and beat him and that’s it.”
Biggest Difference in Antillon is …
This will be the fourth fight for Antillon under the guidance of trainer Abel Sanchez, whose sprawling camp in the mountains at an elevation of more than 7,000 feet is a thing of beauty. Antillon said when he went trainer shopping, he ran into a couple of others – Antillon didn’t want to mention names – who wanted to change his style from typical Mexican to more of a boxer. Antillon said he didn’t want any part of that, but that he was looking for a trainer who could teach him a bit about not running into so many punches – especially uppercuts.
“He (Sanchez) has just worked with me about what I already am,” said Antillon, who said one of the most pertinent lessons has been, “not saying in there to repeat punches. Before I was staying in the trenches. Let your punches go and step to the side.”
Exactly, said Sanchez, who was in Antillon’s corner for his outstanding performance against Soto, but not when Antillon was stopped by Acosta.
“Because of our culture, the way we were brought up as fighters, we want to bang, stay in the middle and see who has the bigger balls,” said Sanchez, who grew up in the Los Angeles County suburb of West Covina. “That is not always the best for your health, for your career. There are so many things that can happen because the other fighter wants to win, too.
"Once you land your combinations, don’t be greedy, step away. A lot of times a Mexican fighter wants to get a little greedy, lands four or five punches and then wants to land four or five more from the same spot. He (the opponent) is not going to just sit there. That was the one glaring thing I saw when he came up here.”
Sanchez: This Could Be Antillon’s Time
Antillon said he had difficulty breathing through his nose nearly the entire Soto fight because of cartilage issues and a deviated septum that apparently blocked his airwaves. (He has had the problem surgically repaired). Yet, he still gave Soto all he could handle in a fight Soto won by one, one and three points on the scorecards. Well, Sanchez said Antillon is in the best condition since they have been together, and he could be ripe to take that big bite of the apple.
“This camp there are no injuries, he has had great sparring,” Sanchez said. “If he is ready to win a title, it is in this training camp. The guys who give him problems are the movers.”
Rios (27-0-1, 20 KOs) is anything but that.
“It’s just a matter of staying smart when going toe to toe,” Sanchez said. “We have the ideal opponent, we have had a great training camp.”