By Francisco Salazar
Junior welterweight contender Antonio Orozco may not have been victorious against Jose Ramirez, but he has been praised for his grit and toughness since the fight on Friday night.
Ramirez dropped Orozco twice en route to a 12 round unanimous decision victory before a partisan crowd of 11,102 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, not far from Ramirez's hometown of Avenal.
With the victory, Ramirez (23-0, 16 knockouts) made the first defense of his WBC junior welterweight title.
Orozco (27-1, 17 KOs) was taken to a Fresno area hospital as a precaution, according to manager Frank Espinoza. A CT (CAT) scan was performed on Orozco, but results were negative and Orozco was released from the hospital early Saturday morning.
Despite falling short of winning a world title belt, Espinoza was proud of the effort Orozco gave in the ring.
"Antonio has always been a must-see fighter, but his stock went up from the (Ramirez) fight," Espinoza told BoxingScene.com on Monday. "He will stay at 140 pounds. I can't wait to bring him back in 2019."
Espinoza told BoxingScene.com he would like Orozco to come back to the ring in February. He wants Orozco to rest and recover physically and mentally from Friday's outing.
Orozco has had a history of weight issues, but Espinoza credits strength and conditioning coach Gavin McMillan, who is best known for working with trainer Freddie Roach, for the work he did in preparing Orozco to fight 12 rounds with Ramirez.
"Despite the knockdowns, I was observing the fight," said Espinoza. "I was looking closely, but he got up and I knew what kind of condition Antonio was in. He was hurt, but Antonio got up. In that eighth round, Orozco came back and stunned Ramirez."
Espinoza has received feedback from everyone, including those at Top Rank, which represents Ramirez and fight fans. Orozco's performance in defeat will make him a commodity to watch in the future, meaning his next fight could appear again on ESPN, like Friday night, or another high-profile network.
"Antonio looked good in defeat. He's be back at the right time and we hope he remains active in 2019."
"You don't define your career on one loss. Now he knows what's it like to fight 12 rounds."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing