By Jake Donovan
Already a familiar name and face in Hollywood, Victor Ortiz could have easily left the boxing world behind at any point in the past couple of years. Even in sticking around, he certainly didn’t need to engage in a second fight with Andre Berto, whom he bested in a 12-round thriller around this time five years ago.
So what keeps him around? Perhaps it’s the desire to disprove the notion that he ever left in the first place.
“I'm not done with boxing,” Ortiz (31-5-2, 24KOs) insisted during a recent media conference call to promote his rematch with Berto, which airs live in primetime on free-to-air Fox TV this Saturday from StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. “Yeah I had a couple of brakes - My wrists broken, my jaw broken, I had a broken nose.
“So while I was fixing myself up, it was the media who wrote me off as retired. It was never me who "retired". Stuff happens. Everyone else didn't bother to think twice about that, they just said "Oh Victor's coming back, he's back after hanging them up." Man, I didn't hang anything up - other than maybe a poster on the wall or some new pictures in my room.”
Broken bones have been a longtime theme in the pro career of Ortiz, who’s learned long ago to just keep looking forward. His generally breezy demeanor makes for interesting moments whenever in the media’s presence, but he’s stopped caring long ago over what’s written about him in the boxing press.
What he does care about, is emerging as a top talent in the sport. He’s endured plenty of setbacks along the way, included stoppage losses to Marcos Maidana, Floyd Mayweather, Josesito Lopez and Luis Collazo. His win over Berto – which came in April ’11, in perhaps the best fight to take place in the United States that year – remains a high point in a career that many feel has fallen well short of early expectations.
To a certain extent, the California-based southpaw gets it. He might not agree with the media’s take on how his career has played out, but there’s no denying that he still feels there’s plenty of unfinished business before he decides to fully transition back to the Hollywood lifestyle.
“I actually don't need to box,” Ortiz acknowledges, though followed by a disclaimer. “I turned down two movies. I was headlining as one of the main actors. I turned it down because I wanted to conquer what I need to conquer in boxing.
“I've been in boxing, I've been at it 100 MPH, going 100%. I keep turning down movie offers because boxing is where my head is at.”
Ortiz’ attempt at a full-time return came in Dec. ’14, scoring a 3rd round knockout over Manuel Perez. The win was his first in more than 3 ½ years, dating back to his thriller with Berto, with three stoppage losses in between.
The losses to Lopez and Collazo are technically back-to-back on his boxing résumé, but came 19 months apart and separated by a stint on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars hit reality series. His boyish charm and handsome looks opened the doors for appearances on the silver screen, including co-starring roles in The Expendables 3 and last summer’s boxing drama Southpaw.
The only starring role in which Ortiz is interested is headlining this weekend on Fox. From there, it’s wherever the day takes him, although personal expectations are a winning performance on Saturday leading to a big opportunity in the always financially healthy welterweight division.
“I don't let boxing interfere with acting, and I don't let acting interfere with boxing,” Ortiz insists. “So while I was healing, I was doing movies, I was doing commercials and stuff like that. Now that I'm all healed up, it's back to boxing full time.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow him on his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2