Bob Arum admitted Friday that he was completely caught off guard when Jamaine Ortiz fought Thursday night the way that the cautious underdog opted to box against Teofimo Lopez.
An annoyed Arum watched from a front-row seat as Ortiz approached Lopez from a southpaw stance and carefully fought off of his back foot for 12 rounds. Ortiz believes his strategy, while not at all entertaining, was more than effective enough to upset Lopez in their fight for the former unified lightweight champion’s WBO junior welterweight title.
Arum – whose company, Top Rank Inc., promotes Lopez and co-promotes Ortiz – excoriated Ortiz for what Arum considers an unappealing performance in a main event ESPN televised from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
“It was really terrible,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “I mean, we didn’t know this would happen. We’ve had [Ortiz] fight some big fights for us and he was always very competitive, a good warrior. This wasn’t a fight. He was running around the ring. That isn’t boxing. I don’t know how the officials scored it as close as they did. At most, I gave [Ortiz] two rounds, maybe three rounds. But people are paying good money to watch good athletic competition, and this was disgraceful.”
Judges Steve Weisfeld (117-111), Tim Cheatham (115-113) and David Sutherland (115-113) all scored their fight for Lopez. Weisfeld, who scored nine rounds for Las Vegas’ Lopez (20-1, 13 KOs), apparently agreed with Arum’s assessment of Lopez’s first defense of a WBO belt he won from former undisputed 140-pound champion Josh Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs) on June 10 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
CompuBox’s unofficial punch stats indicated that their fight unfolded closer to how Cheatham and Sutherland scored it. Ortiz (17-2-1, 8 KOs), of Worcester, Massachusetts, landed two more punches overall than Lopez, according to CompuBox (80-of-409 to 78-of-364).
Regardless, Arum joked that Thursday night Top Rank fights on ESPN are “a jinx.”
Lopez-Ortiz occurred less than three months after American Shakur Stevenson defeated Dominican southpaw Edwin De Los Santos unanimously on points in an unforgettably boring 12-round fight for the then-vacant WBC lightweight title November 16, also a Thursday night, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The unbeaten Stevenson and Terence Crawford, the undefeated three-division champion who mentors Stevenson, were among the high-profile fighters that praised Ortiz for his performance on social media.
The 92-year-old Arum was bothered more, though, by Lopez-Ortiz than Stevenson-De Los Santos.
“I just thought with Shakur, he didn’t engage very much,” said Arum, whose company also promotes Stevenson. “But he wasn’t running around the ring like a track star. And Shakur definitely won the fight. That was never an issue. But [Ortiz], I mean, what the hell was he thinking? You don’t do a fight like that. Maybe you do it for a few rounds to get your opponent frustrated, but you don’t do it for 12 rounds. And then for the guy to think he won the fight, he wasn’t landing any punches and Teofimo was landing occasional punches.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.