After mending estranged relationship with his father, Ortiz ready to prove he still has championship pedigree February 17 when he takes on fellow former welterweight champion Devon Alexander on FOX.
Victor Ortiz Jr. spent Christmas and New Year’s Day with his son, Royal, and with his father, Victor Sr., for the first time since he was a child.
“He told me with tears in his eyes that being here was the best Christmas he’d ever had,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz was among three children born in Garden City, Kansas. At 7 years old, his mother, a Mexican immigrant, abandoned the family. His father, Victor Sr., did the same a few years later.
The abandonment left Ortiz bitter for several years. However, as the last few years have passed, Ortiz has been able to turn resentment into forgiveness.
“When Royal looks at me, smiling with such admiration, I know why I’m boxing and appreciate everything that’s made me the man and father I am,” Ortiz said. “All of the anger I had toward my Dad is gone. There’s no hatred or remorse. Now I’m free.”
It was enough of an emotional change that Ortiz reached out to his father during the holidays.
“I flew him up from Kansas to spend the holidays with me for the first time since I was a little kid. He’s 76 years old, knowing he’s made some mistakes. But at the end of the day, I don’t hold that against him anymore,” said Ortiz, a Tarzana, California, resident.
“His sister just passed away, and he’s been by himself since he left me. I just thought to myself, ‘Man, that old man has nothing.’ I called him, and he was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to come, Victor.’ But I was like, ‘Let me tell you like you used to say to me as a little kid. If I have to come out to Kansas, I’m going to grab you by your ears.’
Despite his rocky childhood, Ortiz still has fond memories. He recalled his father, teaching him how to box after he was bullied by two of his peers.
"That’s the best thing my father’s ever done for me,” Ortiz said.
“ My priority is on making a strong comeback against Devon Alexander and to have my straps once again. ” Former welterweight world champion Victor Ortiz
Local trainer Ignacio "Bucky" Avila mentored and continued to work with Ortiz after the departure of his father. His boxing career progressed through the years. In the 2003 Junior Olympic Nationals, Ortiz met Robert Garcia. He guided him through a successful amateur boxing career and into the pros. Ortiz debuted with a first-round TKO of Raul Montes in June 2004.
The reconciliation has emboldened Ortiz for his Feb. 17 clash with Devon Alexander—a duel between former welterweight champions on FOX from El Paso, Texas.
“I have to prioritize, now, when before, it was just doing craziness and living for no one other than me. I'm ready to give all I have to defeat Devon Alexander and to ultimately get my crowns back,” Ortiz said.
Their crossroads battle is part of a deep division featuring unified champion Keith Thurman, titleholder Errol Spence and former champs Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Luis Collazo, Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson.
“I’m facing a hell of a fighter in Devon Alexander. I don't hate Devon, but I will not be his friend and he won't be mine," said Ortiz, who is now trained by Joseph “Hoss” Janik at KnuckleHeadz Gym in Ventura, California.
In his last fight in July, Ortiz ended a 15-month ring absence with a fourth-round TKO of Saul Corral at the Rabobank Theater in Bakersfield, California. It was Ortiz's first fight since being knocked out by Andre Berto in the fourth round of their rematch.
“Vicious” reached the pinnacle of his career in April 2011 when he won a 147-pound title by beating Berto by unanimous decision in a bout that featured both fighters scoring a pair of knockdowns. Ortiz lost the crown in his next fight that September by fourth-round KO to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Ortiz stepped away from boxing for a brief time to increase his profile through TV and movie appearances. He participated in Season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars in 2013, portrayed the character Mars in The Expendables 3 in 2014, and the boxer Ramone in the 2015 film Southpaw.
Now he is focused solely on boxing.
“My priority is on making a strong comeback against Devon Alexander and to have my straps once again. Royal won’t have the tough, hard upbringing I did,” Ortiz said.
"I have a future outside of boxing and I’ll retire from the sport before the sport retires me. But I’m healthy and demonstrated what I'm made of and did what I said I was gonna do against Saul Corral. He walked into the ring on his feet, but he didn't walk out. I’m working hard, ready to give my all against Alexander, and there’ no stopping me.”
For a complete look at Ortiz vs Alexander, visit our fight page.