Ortiz leading - suffers broken jaw in the ninth; Matthysse stops Soto in the fifth
By Paul Strauss: Vicious Victor Ortiz was on again off again over the past nine months. He had hopes of engaging in a rematch with Andre Berto. Their first fight was a great one. However, the rematch was postponed because of Berto's injury to his bicep. Ortiz regrouped and kept on training hard. Then the rescheduled date was cancelled because Berto tested positive for a banned substance. Ortiz was very disappointed, but he didn't want his two training camps to go to waste. Consequently, he agreed to take on a short notice substitute opponent named Josesito Lopez. Ortiz knew Lopez was no pushover, but he wanted a tough fight in hopes that it would prepare him for a possible matchup with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September.
Lopez eagerly grabbed at the chance to possibly move up to the top echelon, even if it meant moving up in weight from 140lb to 147lbs. He didn't care. He wasn't going to miss the opportunity, and was determined to make good in spite of the fact that he was just about everyone's underdog going into tonight's fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
When the cameras caught the fighters warming up in the locker room, Ortiz looked extremely focused. His warm up on the punch mitts was impressive, as his punches looked fast, hard and sharp. He exhibited frightening foot speed as well, and gave the impression he was ready to attack with explosive power at the sound of the opening bell..
However, when the fight started, Ortiz was surprisingly reserved and cautious. Both men looked dangerous, but it wasn't until the latter part of the round that anything of note was landed, and that was by Lopez. Josesito landed a good left hook, and a few moments later got through with a right hand, and then closed out the round with another left hook.
In round two, Ortiz gained control and hurt Lopez, but things changed back the other way when Lopez landed a very good overhand right, backing up Ortiz. Toward the end of the round, Ortiz once again got careless and got caught with another right.
The third round included several good exchanges. Lopez repeated a combination of a left and right to the head, followed by a left to the body. Then he kept Ortiz honest with a crushing lead right hand to the jaw. At this point in the fight, Lopez was experiencing some success in keeping his left or lead foot outside of Ortiz right (or lead foot), forcing Victor to move to his left. That seemed to help Lopez avoid Ortiz' good right hook.
In the fourth, Ortiz got his lead foot to the outside, and as a result he started landing his right jab and hook again. As made evident by the corner talk, that was the game plan. Lopez' corner wanted him to make it a "dogfight".
In the fifth, Ortiz caught Lopez with a very good right uppercut. The hurt Lopez bent over and away from Ortiz, presenting his back to him. Ortiz couldn't hold back, and let a right hand go, which grazed off of the back of Lopez' neck. He went to the canvas, but Referee Jack Reiss clearly saw what had happened, sending Ortiz to the neutral corner as he administered to Lopez, making sure he had enough time to recover. In the process he also made it clear that he didn't think it was a hard punch, and that Lopez should be able to continue. He repeated those sentiments to the ringside physician. Before the round ended, Lopez again slipped to the canvas, and then again in the next (6th) round. Warning signs started to flash in the minds of fans, causing them to wonder if Lopez was possibly looking for a way out of the battle? Referee Reiss warned Ortiz about the illegal blows.
A curious thing started to happen in Ortiz' corner. Instead of the usual chatter between the corner man and fighter, Garcia bent in to Ortiz' left ear, and spoke confidentially, avoiding any pickup by the ringside microphone. Maybe something was already going on with Victor?
In the seventh, Ortiz once again proved his defense is somewhat lacking. Lopez caught him with a good left uppercut and hurt him. Ortiz jumped on his bicycle and gave the round away. The eighth round was close and had several good exchanges, but was probably shaded by Lopez.
The ninth round started with a slower pace, but then Lopez once again got Ortiz in trouble. He was landing the left hook and uppercut again. Ortiz was definitely hurt, and got to pedaling again, with Lopez in hot pursuit. Lopez' face might have been the more severely bruised and marked up, but Ortiz was the one who was in flight mode. Still, the way the fight had been going, it was a pretty good bet that Ortiz would be coming back and hurting Lopez again.
It didn't happen. Instead, Victor informed Referee Reiss that he had sustained a broken jaw and could not continue. Referee Reiss asked him to repeat the statement, and once Victor mumbled out the words again, Reiss signaled the fight was over!
Everyone was in shock. Showtime announcer Gus Johnson just about burst a blood vessel shouting the surprise ending. When Jim Gray managed to get Victor cornered, Victor told him he thought his jaw was broken at the beginning of the round. After the injury occurred, he explained everything touching his face hurt. His mouth was bloody, and he obviously could not close his jaw, so he had no choice but to make the wise choice and elect to come back another day.
Josesito was ecstatic, and now looks to his biggest payday. Concerning a possible rematch with Ortiz, he simply said there will be one if it's in the contract. You got the impression it's not.
Critics of Ortiz are going to jump all over him for quitting on the stool, but realistically what else could he do? Think Vasquez and broken nose in the first Marquez fight. The cameras followed Victor back to the dressing room, where he was clearly spitting up a stream of blood. In fairness to a courageous fighter, most fans will be eager to see him come back healthy.
In the co-feature, Lucas Matthysse proved good to his word in his fight with Humberto Soto. Lucas said that he was going to take the fight out of the hands of the judges. In other words, he was going to kayo Soto. Lot's of fighters have made similar statements, but often it's just talk. Lucas made sure it wasn't.
Initially, Soto boxed well. He demonstrated his superior boxing ability and speed. Soto was being "The crafty little fox". He was beating Lucas to the punch, as Lucas was trying to rough him up. There were a couple of grappling sequences, which put Soto on the canvas, but Referee Raul Caiz, Sr. knew there was no knockdown and made the necessary official signal.
Soto was winning rounds, but Matthysse was steadily wearing him down with hard body shots and overhand rights to the head. As the fight progressed, Soto became less mobile and more hittable, but fans knew Soto had never been down, let alone knocked out, so they were encouraged he would continue to box well and might be able to win on points.
It was not to be. The thirty-two year old veteran just couldn't avoid all of the hard shots that Matthysse was throwing his way. Matthysse beat Soto's speed with timing and raw power. When he landed, there was greater effect. Soto was still throwing combinations, but he no longer was moving afterward. He was becoming a target, and Matthysse was really teeing off. Toward the end of the round, Matthysse landed a short left. It wasn't a particularly impressive shot, but it evidently hurt Soto, whose guard came down. Matthysse followed with a good right, driving Soto back into the ropes. As Soto was slowing sinking, Matthysse caught him with another crushing right hand.
The bell sounded, but the referee continued the count. Soto got up, but had to be asked twice if he could walk forward and wanted to continue? As Soto responded and reluctantly moved forward, he kept hold of the top strand of the ropes with his left glove. He was in bad shape. He made it back to his corner, but his corner men wisely realized he was in no shape to continue, and signified that to the referee, who in turn stopped the fight. It was the end of the fifth round.
Now, it's a sure bet Matthysse will once again be looking for a title shot to add to the WBC Continental Americas light welter title belt he won tonight. His impressive punching power makes him a serious threat to any of the top fighters in the division, including Amir Khan. It was a great night of boxing for Showtime, sans Antonio Tarver. In fact, Gus Johnson and crew wisely didn't bring up Tarver or his situation.