Fire reignited under former champion Ortiz heading into 147-pound battle with Corral

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Victor Ortiz has had it all. In addition to winning a 147-pound world title, the 30-year-old southpaw also has gained celebrity in TV and movies, yet he still aspires to return to the top of the fight game.

Victor Ortiz

Former 147-pound world champion Victor Ortiz will take on Mexico's Saul Corral in a 10-round bout Sunday night after being out of the ring for 15 months. (Chris Farina/Premier Boxing Champions)

“My close, caring friends say, ‘Victor, we love you regardless, but why are you still fighting?’” Ortiz said. “I’m not punch-drunk, having trouble walking or speaking. I’m not done, content or happy. I love acting, but I’m still passionate about boxing.”

“Vicious” Victor Ortiz (31-6-2, 24 KOs) will resume his pursuit of another world championship Sunday night when he battles Saul Corral (25-9, 16 KOs) in a 10-round showdown at the Rabobank Theater in Bakersfield, California (FS1, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT). The 147-pound bout anchors a fight card that includes rising 154-pound contender Justin DeLoach (17-1, 9 KOs) taking on Nathaniel Gallimore (18-1-1, 15 KOs) in the co-main event.

Ortiz’s fight with Corral is not only his first in 15 months, it is also his first since suffering a fourth-round TKO loss in a long-awaited rematch with Andre Berto, who Ortiz dethroned as world champion by unanimous decision in April 2011.

Both of Ortiz’s fights with Berto were all-out rumbles in which each boxer was knocked down at least once. In their first meeting, each boxer was dropped before the close of Round 2 before both men went down again in Round 6.

While his come-forward style has helped him win thrillers, it has also cost him, such as when he had his jaw broken in an upset loss to Josesito Lopez in June 2012, which cost him a high-profile matchup against Canelo Alvarez.

“Beating Berto for the title was the climax of my career,” said Ortiz, who was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Round 4 of his only title defense in September 2011. “The low point was the broken jaw, then having people kind of close to me give me the middle finger. I’ve learned to block out cancerous negativity. This fight starts my run for another title.”

While Ortiz has fought just twice in the past 31 months, having also gained an eighth-round TKO of Gilberto Sanchez Leon in December 2015, Corral has been extremely active with 12 fights under his belt since October 2015 after ending a nearly six-year ring layoff.

Corral, a 30-year-old native of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, is 6-2 since being knocked out by onetime 140-pound titleholder Mike Alvardo in Round 3 in March 2016, with his other defeats coming in 10-round unanimous decisions to 147-pound title challenger Sadam Ali and the aforementioned Josesito Lopez in September 2016 and then in April, respectively.

The hunger is definitely still there inside of me. When I became world champion, it was a short-lived experience. I had reached a high pinnacle and lost it in a fashion that I was never satisfied with. Former 147-pound champion Victor Ortiz, who will face Saul Corral in a 10-round bout Sunday night

The 5-foot-9½ Corral, who made his pro debut in November 2006, has already fought three times this year, and is coming off a second-round KO of Ernesto Rivera in Sonora, Mexico, on June 16.

“I am excited to test myself against another great former champion in Victor Ortiz,” said Corral, who was knocked down in his losses to Ali and Lopez. “Everyone who has seen me fight knows I will give it my all every time I step into the ring.

“I plan on being aggressive and making Ortiz very uncomfortable in the ring. He has had problems overcoming adversity in the ring and I am going to test him and give him everything I have.”

Ortiz, a resident of Ventura, California, was out of action for 19 months after breaking his jaw against Lopez. It was during that layoff that he began spending increased time in front of the camera, competing in Season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and acting in films The Expendables 3 and Southpaw.

He returned to the ring in January 2014 and was knocked out in the second round by former 147-pound champion Luis Collazo. Including that defeat, Ortiz is 2-4 (with all four defeats coming by stoppage) since beating Berto to earn his world title, and he was booed while leaving the ring after losing to Berto last year at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

But even with seemingly nothing to prove at this point in his career and many fans and boxing pundits counting him out, Ortiz remains steadfast in his desire to return to the pinnacle of his sport.

“I've been written off before,” Ortiz said. “People have said I should retire since my first loss. I came back from that loss and became a champion. I don't care what people have to say about me. I could go act full time if I wanted, but I truly love this sport.

“The hunger is definitely still there inside of me. When I became world champion, it was a short-lived experience. I had reached a high pinnacle and lost it in a fashion that I was never satisfied with. I'm blessed to be healthy enough to come back.”

For a complete look at Ortiz vs Corral, visit our fight page.

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