GLENDALE, Arizona – Victor Ortiz is back in the winner’s circle.

It’s been nearly five years since the former WBC welterweight titlist had his hand raised in victory. Ortiz put an end to that rough patch with a ten-round, unanimous decision win over Todd Manuel. Scores were 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92 in favor of Ortiz, who had to survive a knockdown in the closing seconds of their junior middleweight battle Saturday evening at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Ortiz entered the ring at a career heaviest 151.8 pounds but didn’t allow the additional poundage to slow down his attack. The made-to-order Manuel–a 29-year-old from Rayne, Louisiana—was an all-too inviting target for Ortiz, the famed Ventura, California southpaw who loaded up with right hooks and body shots in an active opening round.

The one-sided onslaught continued in round two. The fans continued to file in during the final non-televised bout of the evening, treated to a power-punching display from the 35-year-old Ortiz who loaded up with every punch without fear of return fire. Manuel showed a sturdy chin after getting clipped repeatedly by right hooks along with several left hands over the top.

Ortiz snapped back the head of Manuel with a straight left hand early in round three, drawing a rise from the passionate crowd. The entirety of the round was spent with the two fighters standing shoulder to shoulder, with Ortiz taking an occasional right hand to crack Manuel with right hooks upstairs.

Manuel absorbed considerable punishment in round four. Ortiz snapped back his head with a quick right-left combination, going on the attack but with Manuel able to remain upright. A similar sequence transpired later in the round, though again failing to produce a knockdown.

Ortiz faced his first moment of adversity late in round five. A dominant stretch came to a screeching halt when Manuel dropped a right hand on the chin of Ortiz who briefly froze in place. It was just long enough for Manuel to get his back off the ropes and finish the round on a high note.

Manuel fought at a distance to start round six, landing another right hand and starting to punch with confidence. Ortiz quickly closed the gap, burying his head in Manuel’s chest and letting his hands go along the ropes with right hooks and short left hands landing upstairs.

Ortiz was warned for a low blow late in round seven, disrupting his flow in an otherwise dominant session. Manuel turned away and limped off the pain before action resumed, trading shots with Ortiz in his own corner in the closing seconds of the round.

The sequence was the last of any competitive two-way action. Ortiz resumed control in round eight, though fully aware that the fight was destined to go to the scorecards. Manuel managed a straight right hand midway through the tenth and final round, though he saved his best moment for the end of the fight. A right hand buckled Ortiz’s knees before falling to the canvas for the bout’s  

Manuel is now back at .500 as his record falls to 20-20-1 (6KOs). His reaction at fight’s end suggests a moral victory was gained and likely similar opportunities in his near future.

At his peak, Ortiz managed to enjoy a five-month title reign after trading knockdowns with Andre Berto in their April 2011 Fight of the Year-level slugfest. His glorious run came to a screeching halt in his infamous fourth-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather in September 2011.

The fight spent Ortiz into a downward spiral, suffering four stoppage defeats in a span of six fights. A win over Saul Corral in July 2017 was followed by a draw with former two-division titlist Devon Alexander in February 2018 and a ten-round loss to Robert Guerrero in their August 21 battle of faded former titleholders.

Saturday’s feat ends a brutal five-year stretch that also included a lengthy trial where he was accused of felony sexual assault, though eventually cleared of all charges. Where his career next heads is unclear as he advances to 33-7-3 (25KOs).

Headlining the show, two-time WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez (25-0, 22KOs) from nearby Phoenix faces former IBF middleweight titlist David Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs). The scheduled 12-round main event is for the interim WBC super middleweight title, airing live on Showtime atop a televised tripleheader.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox