By: Sean Crose
Teofimo Lopez entered the ring to defend his WBO junior middleweight title in grand fashion Thursday night. Dressed as a ring master, the fighter known as “The Takeover” made his way through a literal circus act on the way to face Jamaine Ortiz in a scheduled 12 round affair in Los Vegas. For his own part, Ortiz patiently waited in his corner with his team. His chance to shine would come soon enough, in mere minutes, in fact. Although Lopez was the favorite, there was absolutely no guarantee that Ortiz would be easy pickings. Lopez had been upset before, after all.
Ortiz picked away at the defending champion during the first few rounds, though Lopez didn’t appear to be frustrated – at least not yet. Indeed, he was able to find his mark at the end of the second. Still, it was Ortiz who was the slicker fighter through the following few rounds, one who landed far more frequently than Lopez did. As the fight progressed, the battle began to take on an Ali-Liston vibe, with Ortiz employing slickness and Lopez hunting largely in vain. By the midpoint it appeared that Ortiz was simply too fast of both fist and foot for the colorful Lopez.
The crowd may not have been enjoying the fight as it made its way into the second half, but the truth was that Ortiz was doing what he had to do in order to win. His strategy may not have been entertaining, but there was no doubt it was impressive. An accidental head butt caused a cut on Ortiz’ face in the seventh. What’s more, Lopez was finally able to find his mark. Ortiz, however, was able to pitty-pat his way back into control in the eighth. Lopez spent a moment on the mat in the ninth as a result of a slip. The rest of the round was essentially more of the same. As the largely uneventful fight worked it’s way toward a close, it seemed apparent Lopez would have to stop his man if he wanted to win the fight. He absolutely could not do it, for Ortiz remained energetic, confident, and disciplined to the final bell. It was, technically at least, a very fine performance, if not one that would bring in a large fan base. No matter. It was Lopez who (some might rightfully say inexplicably) scored a unanimous decision win.