LAS VEGAS – Victor Ortiz made it clear after a press conference Thursday that he never retired from boxing.
The former WBC welterweight champion will end a 3½-year layoff Saturday night, but Ortiz insists he knew all along that he would return to the ring. The 34-year-old Ortiz will finally fight again when he encounters Robert Guerrero in the 10-round co-feature on the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas undercard at T-Mobile Arena.
“The media, you retired me, because maybe my smile, maybe my cockiness, maybe my fighting style,” Ortiz told a small group of reporters at MGM Grand Garden Arena. “I don’t know. Whatever it was, people retired me. I never left. I was going through some troubles of my own, took care of everything and we’re back for the decade.”
Ortiz’s layoff lasted so long in large part due to his arrest on three felony charges related to an alleged sexual assault in September 2018. Ortiz has long denied the allegations and spent more than two years fighting the case in court.
Those charges were dropped in mid-December, which enabled Ortiz to resume a star-crossed career that began in June 2004.
In the 38-year-old Guerrero, Ortiz will face a fellow southpaw from California, another former WBC 147-pound champion who has lost to Floyd Mayweather. Guerrero (36-6-1, 20 KOs) has won three straight fights during his comeback from a brutal, third-round, technical-knockout defeat to then-unbeaten Omar Figueroa Jr. in July 2017.
“He comes to fight, he comes with the pressure, with the boxing, it don’t matter,” Ortiz said. “I know what I’ve done in training camp. I know I obeyed my camp a hundred percent. I was in bed at correct times, I was dieting correctly, I was running when I was supposed to. I listened, so I’m ready.”
Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs), who was trained for this bout by Freddie Roach, came in one pound above the contracted limit of 147 pounds Friday. He paid Guerrero money out of his purse for not making weight.
The Ventura, California, native will fight for the first time since his dubious draw with Devon Alexander in February 2018.
Alexander appeared to do more than enough to out-point Ortiz, but none of the three judges scored their 12-round, 147-pound bout for Alexander at the University of Texas-El Paso’s Don Haskins Center.
Judge Don Griffin scored the fight for Ortiz, 115-113. The two other judges, Glen Rick Crocker and Levi Martinez, had it even after 12 rounds (114-114).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.