Joshafat Ortiz rode a strong start all the way to the finish line to preserve his unblemished record.
A steady boxing performance by the Reading, Pennsylvania product was enough to fend off a late rally from Joshua Orta to prevail in their battle of unbeaten junior lightweights. Judge Dave Moretti had the bout even at 57-57, overruled by matching scores of 58-56 by Adalaide Byrd and Tim Cheatham in favor of Ortiz in their ESPN-televised preliminary bout Thursday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ortiz took advantage of the initial lack of activity from Orta, who all but refused to let his hands go in the early rounds. The odd strategy provided Ortiz with the opportunity to work his combinations, bouncing on his toes and moving Orta around the ring as he controlled the tempo and the real estate.
Orta—who showed up heavy at Wednesday’s pre-fight weigh-in—came to life in round three, picking his spots between Ortiz’s busier combinations to respond with right crosses and left hooks. Ortiz went back to basics, pumping his jab and slowing down the sudden attack from his squat foe.
Smooth boxing paved the way for Ortiz to control the action in round four, only to have to dig down and fight in a high contact round five. Orta dialed up the pressure, scoring with left hooks when he was able to work his way inside. The exchanges motivated Ortiz, who picked up the pace as he pumped his right hand in response to the late surge from the 24-year old Springfield, Massachusetts native.
Ortiz’s bravery came at a slight expense, as he ended the frame with a small cut around his right eye. Replays indicated the wound came as the result of a headbutt, although inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
The sixth and final round saw both boxers digging deep to surge ahead. Orta (6-1, 2KOs) was surge ahead in punches landed thanks to his strong push in the final two rounds, needed a knockout by that point, with that moment never coming close to materializing thanks to the determination of Ortiz who made sure to close the show in style. The 24-year old Boricua mixed it up when necessary, while using his height and reach to create space after having his say on the inside.
It was enough to remain perfect, advancing to 8-0 (4KOs).
The bout served in supporting capacity to a scheduled 10-round heavyweight main event between former title challenger Carlos Takam (38-5-1, 28KOs) and southpaw Jerry Forrest (26-3, 20KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox