Friday, April 4, 2014
Luis Ortiz: Yet Another Puzzling Cuban Heavyweight, And In Puzzling FS1 Choice
Cuban heavyweight prospect, Luis Ortiz, a tank of a man, to be sure, is 35-years-old, since March of this year. 35-years-old. He has been a professional fighter for over four years. He turned pro off of hundreds of amateur fights. It was just a few months shy of fourteen years ago when young Wladimir Klitschko, the current 38-year-old heavyweight champion of the world, beat up a 23-1 Monte Barrett. It was about seven years ago that now retired Nikolay Valuev stopped Barrett in their fight. It was about five years ago when David Haye, who could now be forced into retirement by a broken down shoulder, took Barrett out in what was commonly referred to as a lackluster campaign to get the best deal in a shot at Klitschko's world title. Barrett was then knocked out by Odlanier Solis and unanimously decisioned by Alexander Ustinov the following year. Three consecutive losses to prospects there. It was about two years ago when Barrett last fought, getting viciously knocked out by underdog Shane Cameron, and about three since he last won a fight, against what is hopefully a now finally retired David Tua.
This version of Monte Barrett, this is a big fight for Luis Ortiz, after four years as a professional. He's only three years younger than the current heavyweight champion, note it, who has been among the sport's longest reigning champions and thought to be nearing the end of the road himself. This, this was FS1's choice of a main event. An almost surefire mismatch for a heavyweight prospect that wasn't even slightly hot and whose fights are even an obscurity on youtube.com, let alone cable television. I am puzzled by both Ortiz's career and FS1's choice in main events. But, that said, I was still glad to see Ortiz's fight televised. I was. I think he's interesting.
Is Luis Ortiz a much hyped prospect? Not at all. As I said, he lives in relative obscurity, even to boxing's fans, and even to boxing's hardcore heavyweight fans. Is he a no-hoper who hasn't shown enough skill to get noticed? Oh no. I think he's highly capable and could be-isn't yet, hasn't been-but could be an interesting part of the heavyweight landscape. Is he one of those purported to be too small for the "super" heayweights and too big for cruiserweight? Nope. He's a fullly-sized, made-to-order heavyweight, at 6'4 and 240ish pounds of pretty natural looking bulk, with a wide back and hips. No one is asking him what weight class he is in, I don't think. "The real King Kong" is not an ironic size nickname he's got.
So, why is Monte Barrett, albeit a former title challenger and very solid name, but at 42, inactive, many times decimated, a step up of any kind for Ortiz in the eyes of most? And why is Luis Ortiz known to so few? I don't have the answer. He is, yet another, Cuban heavyweight oddity. For Cuban oddity, he matches Odlanier Solis, another natural heavyweight, with an even finer amateur background, who has actually gotten the opportunities for big professional fights, and displayed some excellent skills. Solis? Can't seem to bring it all together for conditioning and determination. Ortiz? Again, he's just stepped up to a highly worn version of Monte Barrett. These careers do not reflect talent levels.
I honestly think a lot of these Cuban heavyweights with hundreds of amateur fights have simply burned out their competitive desires by the time they turn pro. I recall seeing Solis, in one of his earliest pro fights on television and thinking 'Is this really the guy I saw against David Haye in the amateurs?' and as I watch him now, against the likes of Tony Thompson, getting outworked by a fat man in his forties, I think 'Is this really the guy I saw against David Haye in the amateurs?' I hope Ortiz does not provide similar determination and dedication, should he get a reasonably big fight to test him.
What did he do with Barrett on his main event opportunity? He decisively had him out-gunned and out-skilled and took advantage, never looking like it was any more serious than you'd think it was. It doesn't mean that much at this stage but I must wonder why this got a serious television date and whether or not he's going to have a serious fight sometime soon. All fights are serious, but you know I mean seriously enough to be considered a world class of fight. Oh, if this had happened in late 2011, with Barret coming off of his Tua victory and Ortiz barely into his pro career, instead of four years into it, I could understand some intrigue in the match, I suppose, a little. Enough for a random main event on FS1, at least. But this left a bitter taste in my mouth, I suppose.
He stumbled and cut Barrett with a big left in the first round and you could tell by their body language what was likely. He stumbled Barrett in the second with another big left. Barrett seemed to take the punches better in the third. He took them just the same. He just reacted better and landed a few. In the fourth, Referee Raul Caiz Senior called the fight in an oddly quick way as Barrett looked in pain, going down to a knee, after taking a shot to the nose (I assumed it broke the nose immediately, the way it looked). I don't have much problem with the stoppage, as I'm sure the referee knew Barrett was not taking the punches well from round one anyway. If he had a broken nose on top of that, what was likely to be gained by letting it continue?
So, for Ortiz: Good performance against an opponent that is almost certainly with one foot and three quarters of another foot out of the sport. But still a good performance. Calm but not passive. Dominant but damaging (no amateurish shoe-shining for points). Very professional.
For Barrett: Is he finally done with a career full of taking the hard road? Because, it seems like he always has, and with little benefit. I used to have a little admiration for it but now it's turned to wariness when I see him set up in these matches. I have no urge to see him walk in, deck stacked against him, and get stepped on like a, well, a stepping stone, for some new prospect. And I don't support FS1 or any other channel giving the status of a main event to another instance of this. Granted, it's going to happen as long as boxing exists, these kinds of matches, but hasn't it happened enough to Monte Barrett on television? I hope he's able to retire after this and decides to do it. He may never have been a major title holder but Barrett has been a good road warrior and done a lot.
Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing