Redemption be Thy Name, Marketing be Thy Game By Luis A. Cortes III, MaxBoxing (May 15, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing
When Victor Ortiz finished his post-fight interview inside of the ring at Staples Center in Los Angeles last June, it was clear that this would be one of those moments that would be hard for him to get over, in various ways. First, it was the type of situation that so many members of the media relish. A fighter who faces adversity and, in the end, gives an unorthodox response for the way he was feeling in the moment, as a result of things not turning out the way he had envisioned them. Or, for that matter, the way his handlers had envisioned them for both his and their interests.
I know, I know, since that fateful night, Ortiz has had two successful fights, in which his hand was raised as the winner. However, those nights differ from what he will be getting into once he steps into the ring on Saturday night. Let’s make one thing clear about this night, fight, and Ortiz: if he was truly some sort of softy or didn’t have the heart to be a champion, he would have never signed that dotted line to face “The Galaxxy Warrior.” Honestly, who else is out there who wants a date with this crafty veteran? A fighter who resembles Bernard Hopkins, in how it always seems like it’s him against the world.
Anyone who sits and reads this and wants to question if Kool-Aid or blood pumps through the arteries of Ortiz, go a few rounds with Campbell or Maidana and see how you feel at the end of the day, especially with a 22 or 23-year-old mindset.
With that said, lets really get into what occurred to both Ortiz and his career, since that night, and as a consequence of the beatdown that he took in Los Angeles. If you watch the fight again, it’s clear that, at any moment, Ortiz was one vicious right hook away from securing a great night for both himself and his promotional company, Golden Boy. But I guess it’s like it’s been said before, “it be’s that way sometimes, young strapper.” In this case, Ortiz was inches away from a few good things, and why-oh-why is that is the case?
When a promotional company is pushing a fighter in this sport, a mix of both pleasure and pain sometimes is the key recipe to building a mainstream star. In that vein, was it Ortiz’s fault that the main event had been canceled and he was pushed under the spotlight (if he was ready for it or not) that would be the foundation of the always-coveted HBO date? Of course it wasn’t his fault. At the end of the day, what I get from Ortiz is that he is in this game to prove that he is the best fighter in the world, in and around his weight division. If the rest comes with it (superstardom), who wouldn’t love to travel down such a road?
But here is the catch. While some fighters are groomed for that type of moment, from the way they are nurtured as a prospect and the various styles of opponents they face to the events they are showcased on (pay-per-view undercards, small regional shows that build fan bases, and dealing with the press, as a result), other fighters are expected to be able to handle such an occasion when it is presented to them.
Pause…I know if you are thinking the following names in terms of nurturing and development: Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, and, ironically enough, one Oscar De La Hoya. I have done my job in getting my point across.
While Ortiz was constantly being mentioned as the next generation for Golden Boy Promotions, by its founder, someone who I mentioned was a result of such tender loving care from his former boss, Top Rank. I find it ironic that while the boss, the “Golden Boy,” was preaching such things about his young talented charge. Was he getting him the proper training, in terms of dealing with the media?
I would have to go down the road of, “Me no think so.” Just like being inside of the ring, being in front of the camera and having to deal with the press, one thing is always the case: what you do in the dark shall come to light.
On that night in June, what wasn’t done in the dark (media training) came to the light, both in terms of the business end (pre-fight profiles of Ortiz, which seemed unnatural) and inside of the ring, once Ortiz had suffered a crushing defeat.
Maybe there is something there that we don’t know. Maybe all of those things did occur, along with Golden Boy rushing to get Ortiz sponsorships and reality television deals. Maybe they did have all of the public relation spinsters sit with Ortiz and teach him how to smile and how to say the right things after a victory. I guess they forgot to go over the chapter in the public relations text book that goes over what to do in times of crisis.
Either way, let’s give the fair shake to the fighter. After all, he is the one getting inside of the ring. And no matter what, that frustrated look on the face of his boss at the press conference after the loss should suggest (I bet he had a few Budweisers that night. Ouch, I know) Ortiz should not be the one who gets the finger pointed at him for that night.
And so the career of Victor Ortiz continues. Or, let the rebuilding process begin (public relations is awesome, isn’t it?). Whatever the case, Ortiz will be back in the ring for the third time since his defeat.
I know, let it go, right? “Why does the press continue to harp on things that happened a while back?” we all seem to ask. In this instance, this will be the first time that Ortiz is back on a show of this magnitude. His first fight back (against Antonio Diaz) was a co-feature to the Paul Malignaggi-Juan Diaz rematch in Chicago. After that, not surprisingly, he was the main attraction for a smaller fight against the rugged Hector Alatorre. So now, the next step to make is to get back on the stage where Ortiz was before his fight with Maidana in a high-profile co-feature fight against a tough opponent in Nate Campbell.
Thankfully, for Golden Boy, it seems that both Amir Khan and Paulie Maliggnagi are both going to show up to fight in the main event. More importantly, for Ortiz, he will experience this type of tough fight against a top contender in his division who he will not be able to beat solely on his talent. He will have to rise to the occasion against Campbell in order to come out on top, unless, of course, Campbell does a Shane Mosley and gets old overnight. He is 38, after all.
After speaking to Ortiz this week, he shot out the usual types of quotes that have become second nature to fighters not comfortable in dealing with the media. “I feel great; I’m ready for this fight.” “He is tricky, yes, but I have some tricks up my sleeve too.” Of course, the following needed to be said, as well: “I’m in the best condition of my life.” There is a classic sound bite straight out of the book of dealing with the media from his boss’ text book. All I could envision was Kevin Costner talking to Tim Roth on the bus in “Bull Durham,” when he teaches how to deal with the major league press.
What was more intriguing to me was the following: “I had an off-night in June and I was one shot away from taking the fight; I guess my auto-pilot is better than most.”
On this, I truly agree. Ortiz is truly a talented fighter. From his tone, it seemed like he was trying to ensure himself that he was off on that night. Honestly, the heat of the night caught up with Ortiz, who was unjustly put in a position that has cracked lesser talent and lesser men. To his credit, he sounds like he is aware of what needs to go down in that ring this weekend in order to get his hand raised and continue his push towards the mountain top of the talent rich junior welterweight division.
On this night, Ortiz will have redemption on his mind, but this time, it sounds like boxing and fighting will be his game, not marketing. Smart move.