By David Greisman
Vergil Ortiz Jr. Scores Sixth-Round TKO Against Antonio Orozco
Vergil Ortiz Jr. is just 21 years old. He was just 13-0 coming into his fight Saturday night against a good contender. And he proved to be just too much for Antonio Orozco to handle.
Ortiz and Orozco battled it out until the sixth round, when Ortiz scored three knockdowns and emerged with an impressive technical knockout victory.
Early on, it looked like it wouldn’t even last that long. Ortiz landed a good left hook to the body about one minute into the first round, backing Orozco to the ropes. Ortiz landed a heavy flurry of punches. Orozco withstood them and ultimately slipped away, bringing the fight back to the middle of the ring, and bringing the fight back at Ortiz.
The first round ended with Orozco trying to put pressure on Ortiz. He found success with overhand rights upstairs. And he went to the body to try to take some of the steam off Ortiz’s punches. The steam wasn’t coming off, though. Ortiz’s power was evident when he threw. And he looked comfortable despite Orozco’s pressure, fighting well while moving backward.
Orozco kept coming, thanks to a combination of determination, skill and chin. He’d lost once before, dropping a unanimous decision against Jose Ramirez about a year ago and getting dropped to the canvas multiple times in the process. That fight was at 140. He’d since gone up to 147, giving himself relief after years of trouble making the junior welterweight limit.
Going up in weight can help with punch resistance, particularly when a fighter is weakened from taking off too many pounds. But going up in weight also means getting in with heavier punchers. Ortiz has heavy hands, and they eventually took their toll.
Going into this fight, Ortiz had never been past the fifth round, scoring knockouts in every one of his 13 previous victories. His 14th knockout came in the sixth round.
It started with a combination upstairs that wobbled Orozco in the opening minute. Ortiz continued throwing, and a hook to the body followed by an uppercut sent Orozco down. He got up by the count of eight but was soon down again from another barrage, this time rising at the count of nine.
There was a lot of time left — half the round.
Ortiz kept scoring. Orozco tried to hold. Ortiz got free and landed a right hand, buckling Orozco’s knees. Ortiz couldn’t put him away just yet. He needed a brief break, and Orozco began to throw back. Ortiz promptly stamped out that revolt, throwing again and putting Orozco down for the third and final time. The referee waved it off. He’d seen enough.
Ortiz is now 14-0 with 14 KOs. In his past two fights, he’s put away faded former contender Mauricio Herrera and gotten by a good test from Orozco. The welterweight division is stacked full of talent. Ortiz is farther along than many other fighters his age tend to be. But expect him to still be moved along at a gradual pace, refining his talents until he’s even more formidable than he already is.
Orozco dropped to 28-2 with 17 KOs. This is a disappointing loss, even if it came against a very good prospect. Orozco will likely return as the B-side yet again, and he’ll need a different result in order to keep from remaining the B-side for the rest of his career.
Robeisy Ramirez Suffers Shocking Loss to Adan Gonzales in Pro Debut
Robeisy Ramirez went through more than most fighters do in order to turn pro.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist from the famed Cuban amateur system, Ramirez fled from his team on a trip to Mexico, hiding around the country and eventually defecting to the United States, leaving his family and small child behind. His escape was carried out thanks to a wife-and-husband duo who’d aided other Cuban athletes who dream of a better life, doing so in exchange for a portion of their future earnings. He’d signed with Top Rank, one of boxing’s top promoters.
There was a lot riding on his turning pro — both for him and those who helped him get to this point. And so it was shocking to see Ramirez knocked down early in his debut fight, then outworked for the remainder of the bout, then announced on the losing end of a split decision.
Ramirez came out looking composed and comfortable, no surprise given his vast amateur experience. Adan Gonzalez came in with an unsensational record — he was 4-2-2 and hadn’t beaten anyone of note. But he landed a few shots early, and soon he surprised everyone by dropping Ramirez to the canvas a mere 22 seconds into the fight.
Gonzalez had thrown a right hand. Ramirez ducked it but came up with his gloves down and chin exposed, backing away while still in range for the left hand that followed. Ramirez’s gloves touched the mat. It was correctly scored a knockdown, and suddenly it became evident that this was a real fight for Ramirez.
Ramirez got up from the knockdown, smiling and shaking his head. But he didn’t ever show enough desperation in his response. Nor did it help that Gonzalez — despite his unimpressive record — wasn’t the typical overmatched fall guy you often see prospects in against early on in their careers. He was sturdy enough to take Ramirez’s punches. He was good enough to land his own.
Gonzalez threw more punches in every round, out-throwing Ramirez on the night, 262 to 161, according to CompuBox. Ramirez was credited with landing slightly more, 51 to 43. He dug to the body and landed some flush shots upstairs. But it was Gonzalez who seemed to be doing more, controlling more moments of every round while Ramirez just picked his spots. Indeed, Ramirez and his trainer thought they were winning the fight. He never went for the knockout in the fourth and final round, when that was exactly what he needed.
Instead, the fight went to the scorecards. One judge had Gonzalez winning a shutout, 40-35, or four rounds to zero with an extra point deducted from Ramirez for the knockdown. Another judge had it 39-36, or three rounds to one. The third judge dissented, giving Ramirez three rounds and Gonzalez just one, seeing it 38-37 for the Cuban.
Gonzalez moves to 5-2-2 with 2 KOs, scoring by far the biggest win of his career.
Ramirez, the top amateur, the two-time Olympic medalist, the highly touted A-side making his debut, is now 0-1. He went through more than most fighters do to turn pro. And now he’ll have to work even harder to get on the right path as a pro fighter.
It’s not unprecedented. Bernard Hopkins famously lost his first fight and went on to become one of the best boxers ever, and he didn’t have anything approaching Ramirez’s amateur credentials.
Vasiliy Lomachenko lost in his second pro fight. There’s a big difference. That was a title bout, though, against a very good fighter named Orlando Salido.
It’s not the ideal result, but it’s not the end of the world. This could be a case of Ramirez needing to adjust to the pro fighting style. Expect his team to step him back in terms of the level of his opposition, to get him used to what it takes to win in the paid ranks.
Right now, this is a notable upset. If Ramirez does everything right, and if he’s got what it takes, this’ll end up being a mere footnote in his career.
Edgar Berlanga Makes It 12 First-Round KOs in a Row
While it wasn’t exactly the unstoppable force versus the immovable object, the fight between Edgar Berlanga and Gregory Trenel presented an interesting scenario in which something had to give.
Berlanga, a middleweight prospect, had won every single one of his 11 pro fights in the first round. Trenel had lost before — four times, to be exact — but he’d never been knocked out.
Trenel can’t say that anymore. Berlanga didn’t just score the technical knockout. He scored it just two minutes and 24 seconds into the fight.
Despite Berlanga’s streak, he didn’t rush out looking for the knockout. Instead he worked behind the jab, patiently stalking, landing his first good power shot in the form of a right hand about 43 seconds in. Trenel fired back with a few, though with far less oomph behind them. Berlanga soon scored again, this time with a pair of left hooks to the body and head, followed by a right hand.
Trenel held for a brief respite. Berlanga soon was back to winging heavy shots. A left hook dropped Trenel about halfway through the round. Trenel rose quickly, steady on his feet. His mouthpiece had come out, though, which bought him more time to recover. Berlanga was soon back at it, landing a right hand, and not long after a hook to the body, a hook to the head and a right hand that staggered Trenel.
Trenel circled away in retreat. Berlanga trapped him in a corner and landed again, pursuing an opponent who wasn’t really fighting back, punching away at a mobile punching bag. A right uppercut to the chin and a left hook to the head had Trenel staggered again. He wasn’t out on his feet, but he also wasn’t anywhere near being competitive. The referee called it off.
Berlanga, suffice it to say, is now 12-0 with 12 KOs. This was a nice spotlight for him, and it’s a good run that brings more headlines than if he were, say, 12-0 with 8 KOs. But it’s also too early to get hyped up. He’s just 22 years old. He has plenty of time to develop and improve. Let’s see what he does against better opposition, whenever that day comes.
Another middleweight prospect named Tyrone Brunson, after all, was managed well enough to be able to score 19 first-round knockouts in a row. He soon was knocked out in three rounds by Carson Jones and never looked the same after, the air being let out of his balloon.
Edwin Valero, meanwhile, scored 18 straight first-round KOs, went on to win world titles at 130 and 135 pounds, and looked to have the goods. (Valero’s career ended in a horrifying manner, when he was arrested for killing his wife. Valero committed suicide in jail.)