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Jamaine Ortiz, hailing from Worcester with a record that speaks volumes at 17-1-1 and a fistful of KOs numbering 8, is stepping into the ring for a showdown that could very well etch his name in the annals of boxing lore. He’s squaring up against Teofimo Lopez, whose own record of 19-1, with 13 KOs, ain’t nothing to scoff at, for a crack at the Ring and WBO Junior Welterweight crowns. This tussle is going down tonight at the Michelob Ultra Arena and you bet it’s being broadcast live on ESPN for all to see.
For months, Ortiz has been throwing his hat in the ring, itching for a scrap with the big dogs of the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions. He’s been eyeing everyone from Shakur Stevenson to Devin Haney, aiming to test his mettle against the cream of the crop.
Ortiz, with a chuckle, confessed on The Final Bell podcast, just 9 days shy of the main event, “To be honest, I’m as clueless as you are on how this brawl got on the books. Ran into Teofimo at the Benavidez vs. Andrade scrap, and next thing you know, my phone’s ringing.”
This fight’s got all the trimmings of a classic, especially with Vegas already buzzing with the Super Bowl just around the corner. We’ve got two Latin-American pugilists from the Northeast ready to duke it out for junior welterweight glory.
Ortiz, reminiscing about their 2015 scrap where Lopez got the upper hand, said, “It was a nail-biter of a fight, and it’s high time we settled the score.”
Both men kicked off their pro careers in the lightweight division, with Lopez making waves under Top Rank and Ortiz throwing down with CES Boxing. Lopez’s climb to the top was swift, bagging the IBF title from Richard Commey in 2019 and then outmaneuvering Vasyl Lomachenko to stack up the WBA and WBO titles. However, George Kambosos threw a wrench in his reign, snatching away his lightweight belts. Post that, Lopez jumped up to junior welterweight, and before long, he was running circles around Josh Taylor, clinching the Ring and WBO titles.
Ortiz wasn’t far behind, making a splash by trouncing former WBO Super Featherweight champ Jamel Herring in 2022. Although he narrowly missed the mark against Lomachenko later that year, the praise he received was nothing short of stellar, with Lomachenko tipping his hat to Ortiz as one of his toughest adversaries.
Now, with Top Rank in his corner alongside CES Boxing, Ortiz has set his sights on junior welterweight gold, outclassing Antonio Moran in a tactical showdown that paved the way for this epic confrontation with Lopez, the sport’s showman extraordinaire.
Ortiz tips his hat to Lopez, “He’s top dog at 140, no two ways about it. This fight’s a beast, but climbing to the top means taking on the biggest and baddest.”
Ortiz sees a bit of himself in Lopez, but he’s banking on his cool-headedness to make the difference. “We’ve got more in common than you’d think, but keeping a level head? That’s my turf.”
While Lopez’s antics outside the ring are as unpredictable as his jabs, Ortiz’s demeanor is more akin to the stoic warriors of old, think Miguel Cotto’s cool composure.
Ortiz isn’t shy about his strengths, “I’ve got a hunch Teofimo hasn’t squared off against someone who packs a punch like I do. My speed, my moves, he’s in for a wake-up call.”
As for whether Lopez is underestimating him, Ortiz isn’t losing sleep over it. “I’m gearing up for the best version of him, social media banter be damned. My focus is laser-sharp.”
Ortiz is brimming with determination, ready to hoist that championship belt high and bring it back to Worcester, where a hero’s welcome awaits.
Ortiz, brimming with confidence, declared, “The groundwork’s laid, now it’s showtime. I’m revved up for my first title shot and ready to light up the ring. Worcester’s rallying behind me, and we’re gearing up for one heck of a party when I return with the gold. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this rumble.”
Catch “The Showman Returns: Teofimo vs. Ortiz” live at 8:30pm tonight from the Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, on ESPN.