Out of all the names that were thrown around, Jamaine Ortiz didn’t seem like the obvious choice. For starters, he was a 135-pounder. Secondly, he was solely interested in taking on Shakur Stevenson.

Once he couldn’t get the man that he wanted, Ortiz decided to move up in weight. It wasn’t just some arbitrary decision but more so an opportunity of a lifetime.

On February 8th, Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs) will challenge for his first world title when he takes on Teofimo Lopez. According to oddsmakers, Ortiz doesn’t have much of a chance. Richardson Hitchins, however, doesn’t understand why Ortiz is being belittled and overlooked.

“I feel like Jamaine Ortiz is a top fighter,” Hitchins told MillCity Boxing during a recent interview. “He has a lot of experience. He’s been boxing for a long time. He’s always been game. If you fight him, you know you’re gonna be in a fight.”

Ironically enough, Ortiz jumped into the ring with both Lopez and Hitchins in 2015 in the amateurs. He may have come up short against Lopez but he bounced back nicely against Hitchins, winning a decision.

Hitchins knows firsthand just how good Ortiz is. Still, even with the 27-year-old giving everyone he fought, both in the amateurs and in the pros, hell, Hitchins isn’t entirely confident that he’ll get the job done next month.

In the two biggest nights of his life, Lopez proved doubters wrong, beating both Vasiliy Lomachenko and Josh Taylor when they were seemingly at the top of their games.

It won’t be a walk in the park for the current WBO champion. Hitchins expects Lopez to be pushed to his limits. However, when it’s all said and done, he does believe that Lopez will have a bit too much ring IQ for Ortiz.

“I just think Teo is smarter but I think it’s a competitive fight for sure.”