Victor Ortiz walked into the news conference with a swollen left eye, a cut above his right eye and a large bag of ice.
The 22-year-old didn't see any of this coming. The beaten-up eyes signified his unclear future. Ortiz couldn't imagine his first headlining event Saturday at Staples Center would end in a sixth-round technical knockout to Argentine fighter Marcos Maidana for the interim WBA junior-welterweight title.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, June 30, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 54 words Type of Material: Correction
Boxing: An article in Sunday's Sports section on Marcos Maidana's junior-welterweight victory over Victor Ortiz at Staples Center said Ortiz knocked Maidana down three times in the opening round. Ortiz knocked Maidana down once in the first round and twice in the second. In addition, Maidana knocked Ortiz down once in the first round.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, July 05, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Boxing: An article in the June 28 Sports section on Marcos Maidana's junior-welterweight victory over Victor Ortiz at Staples Center said Ortiz knocked Maidana down three times in the opening round. Ortiz knocked Maidana down once in the first round and twice in the second. In addition, Maidana knocked Ortiz down once in the first round.
Ortiz (24-2-1) couldn't see when Maidana (26-1) swung a punishing right hook that bloodied the cuts near his ear, which made the ringside doctor render the fight over. Ortiz didn't envision he would cast doubt on whether he actually just gave up.
"I was ready to keep going, but when the ref said no, I said, 'All right, I'm not going to fight,' " Ortiz said. "If I was going to sit here and say I'm not hurt, I'm lying. But as far as me going in there and giving it more, I'm up for it."
He didn't think he'd be enamored with the partisan 8,600 fans that cheered the recently signed Oxnard resident.
After all, Ortiz is used to the growing attention. He had been touted by boxing publications as a top prospect.
Oscar De La Hoya, who recently retired and is now his promoter, has said he has the potential to be his successor. And MTV has followed nearly his every move for an upcoming reality series.
But this time the magnitude overwhelmed him.
"It wasn't hitting me until on the way toward the ring," Ortiz said.
The match wasn't lost yet. Ortiz maintained an aggressive pace and impressed Maidana enough to say, "Victor is the toughest opponent I've ever faced."
Ortiz knocked Maidana down three times in the opening round, knocked him down with a right hook with 30 seconds left in the second round and then delivered a short hook just before the round ended.
"I went down, but I got up because I have a big heart," said Maidana, the Argentine national amateur champion in 2002 and 2003. "I saw that Victor felt my punches, and I said, 'I know I can win this.'"
He was right.
Ortiz couldn't maintain his aggressive form.
He said he didn't follow the advice of trainers Danny Garcia and Mario Aguiniga about avoiding Maidana's brute strength. Maidana had several big punches the next three rounds, punctuated by two right hands in the final seconds of the fifth round that triggered the cuts near Ortiz's eyes.
Ortiz rejected the notion that this was a failed opportunity. "I'm going to come back and be strong," he said.
"He made mistakes, and he knows which ones he made," De La Hoya said. "He'll be coming back with more intelligence and making sure he crosses the 'Ts' and the 'Is' when it comes to preparing and making sure everything is right."
That way, Ortiz will able to see what's coming.