At 30 years old, Victor Ortiz has had a unique variety of wins and losses—both inside and out of the ring.
The 5-foot-9 southpaw reached the pinnacle of his career in April 2011 when he upset then-unbeaten Andre Berto by unanimous decision in a thrilling contest to win a 147-pound world title. His reign was brief, though, as he was dethroned in his next fight by future Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather Jr. in four rounds.
After a rematch with Berto fell through in 2012, “Vicious” Victor Ortiz then suffered his toughest moments in the ring. He had his jaw broken by replacement opponent Josesito Lopez in a stunning upset in June 2012, and then was knocked out in Round 2 of his comeback fight by former 147-pound titleholder Luis Collazo in January 2014.
While Ortiz’s boxing workload has been sporadic over the past five years, the Ventura, California, resident still has managed to increase his profile through TV and movie appearances. In 2013, he participated in Season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, in which he and partner Lindsay Arnold finished in eighth place, and he made his big-screen acting debut in 2014 as the character Mars in The Expendables 3 before playing the more natural role of a boxer in the 2015 film Southpaw.
Ortiz also managed to squeeze in two bounce-back victories in the ring before facing Berto in a long-awaited rematch at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, in April 2016. Ortiz was cut in Round 1 by an accidental headbutt before flooring his rival in the second round, but Berto rallied to score two knockdowns and earn a fourth-round knockout.
Inactive since then, Ortiz had hoped to return earlier this year in a grudge match against former 135-pound titleholder Brandon Rios, whom he has known since their amateur days and has feuded with for several years, but the fight couldn’t be finalized.
Instead, Ortiz (31-6-2, 24 KOs) will re-enter the ring after a 15-month hiatus to face Mexican veteran Saul Corral (25-9, 16 KOs) in a 147-pound showdown at the Rabobank Theater in Bakersfield, California, on July 30. The 10-round bout will headline a special Sunday night card on FS1 (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT).
Ortiz recently took a break from working with trainer Joseph “Hoss” Janik at KnuckleHeadz Gym in Ventura to discuss his return to the ring, his rivalries with Berto and Rios, and his experiences in Hollywood.
What do you know about your next opponent, Saul Corral?
I’m pretty sure he’s coming for war, and if war is what he wants, war is what he’ll get. I’ll definitely hold my hands up in victory, because it’s been a while. We’re fighting in Bakersfield, which is about an hour and a half from where I live.
It feels pretty awesome to be headlining. If get the opportunity to end the fight with a knockout, then we’re going to end it with a knockout, but I have to make sure not to be overly aggressive to the point where I get caught up too much in the action.
I don’t want to get away from our game plan and commit errors. We’ll go round by round and do whatever it takes. If the knockout comes, then it comes. But if not, then 10 rounds it is.
What are your thoughts about your rivalry with Andre Berto, especially after fans at the StubHub Center were disrespectful and threw debris at you following your last fight, and would you fight him a third time?
Andre Berto and I have a history in the ring, both winning one and losing one, but ultimately I don’t have any hate or dislike toward Berto. Boxing is a sport.
The criticism that comes from fans in fights is just a part of how the boxing world works. At the end of the day, I’ve moved on to thinking about Saul Corral and myself.
“ The guy has so much to say about everyone in the world when he should be quiet and mind his own business. But that’s Brandon Rios for you. I’m leaving it to my team to figure out my career, but it would be a fun fight. ” Victor Ortiz, on his rivalry with former 135-pound titleholder Brandon Rios
How much were you looking forward to the possibility of fighting Brandon Rios, given your well-publicized dislike for one another, and would you still like to fight him?
I was beyond disappointed that the fight did not take place. I had more than 18 weeks of preparation, I was ready, I was on weight, I was focused and ready to go. I wanted to surprise Rios. I would destroy him.
The guy has so much to say about everyone in the world when he should be quiet and mind his own business. But that’s Brandon Rios for you. I’m leaving it to my team to figure out my career, but it would be a fun fight.
What did you think of Rios’ seventh-round knockout of Aaron Herrera last month?
That was a performance?
How fortunate do you feel having been involved in a different type of entertainment with Dancing With The Stars, The Expendables 3 and, most recently, Southpaw?
Life after boxing sounds promising for me, but I’m just not ready to be there quite yet. Thankfully, I have an agency and management to look out for me. I’m just not fully ready to give up boxing, and I’m focused on my boxing career.
Like I’ve said, I have an amazing team, and whatever they have planned for me, I’ll accept and be ready to go. I’m just ready to take on the world and to get back into championship rounds once again.
What did you think of Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as a boxer in Southpaw?
Jake worked really hard to make the fight scenes look realistic. I thought he killed it.
How much input did you have on any technical aspects of boxing during filming?
They were very professional and respectful while filming. The longer I was there, the more input I had. [Director Antoine Fuqua] was interested in a professional fighter’s take on things.
“Picture punching” is different than professional boxing. There is a balance in making it look real. I thought the fight sequences looked good.
How did your experience playing the role of Mars in The Expendables 3 help you for Southpaw?
Being on set with so many big names while filming The Expendables was a great experience. It helped me to be more comfortable in front of the camera.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what actor would do the best job portraying you?
There’s a little-known actor by the name of Danny Williams, and I think he would be a perfect fit. He’s been in quite a few movies—I couldn’t tell you which ones right off of the top of my head—but he would first have to learn to box left-handed.
Why not play yourself—because who could portray yourself better than you could?
I’m not ready for that just yet, but maybe you’re right. I guess we’ll have to see.
Would you be interested in pursuing a starring role in a boxing movie?
I'd love to do more boxing on the big screen once my real boxing career is over.
What fighter in history would you most like to have fought, and what would be the result?
That would probably be Manny Pacquiao, because he’s a great lefty and he’s one of my favorites. I think it would be a helluva fight and that I would have to be victorious. I would give it my all to have my hands raised.
What is your favorite punch to throw?
My favorite punch is the punch that hurts you. If it can get you outta there, then that’s my favorite punch.
Finish this sentence: If not for boxing, I would be …
... a restless soul looking for some kind of way to survive. Boxing has opened a lot of doors for me and, for now, it’s still my life and focus.
If you could have dinner with any four people in history, who would they be?
Michael Jackson and Tupac. That’s all I’d really care about. I think it would be a fun, serious, deep conversation about their lives and life in general.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
The world would be a lot more peaceful. There’s too much hostility in the world today.
“12 Rounds With …” is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com. Next week: former four-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner.