The easy call. The right call. The only call
On Tuesday morning, this writer called John Molina Jr., who, at the time, was scheduled to face Victor Ortiz this upcoming Sunday night, from the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, as the main event on FS1.
Many fans were let down, as they had anticipated the long-awaited “Garden City Grudge Match” between Ortiz and his arch-rival Brandon Rios. This long simmering rivalry had been bandied about for much of the summer months.
However Molina said, “Knowing what I know, I didn’t see that fight happening or materializing at all. Not anytime soon, at least. I think there’s a lot of discrepancies with both parties. I don’t know their business but I don’t see that fight happening.”
In its place, Molina-Ortiz figured to be a fun fight, one filled with some mayhem and madness based on the track records of both men. Molina said of this match-up, “I believe this is just a spontaneously combustible fight. This is one of those fights where both the styles are going to come forward and collide. It’s like the old ‘Heathcliff’ cartoons, where the cloud of dust goes up and we’re going to see who comes out at the end.”
But later that day, news broke that Ortiz had been arrested for sexual assault stemming from an incident back last March and the fight, at that point, was in jeopardy. It wasn’t clear what would be done but, on Tuesday night, Molina was still under the impression he would still be fighting, as were members of Ortiz’s camp.
By Wednesday, it was decided that Ortiz would not be fighting and after attempts to find a suitable replacement for Molina were unsuccessful, he too was pulled from the card. While disappointed, Molina actually took the news as well as can be expected.
It’s never easy to pull the plug on the main event – even on mid-level shows like this – but while Ortiz certainly has the right to due process and his day in court, the powers that be (whether the brass at Premier Boxing Champions or the California State Athletic Commission made this decision) simply had no other choice here.
Yeah, Ortiz had the right to fight on but proceeding with it simply wouldn’t have been right.
The optics here would’ve looked bad – yeah, even by boxing standards (if there is such a thing) – but think about it: This week, Bill Cosby and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are dominating the headlines, in which a lot of rather salacious details/allegations have already come out regarding both men. The phrase “forcible rape” has been attached to the allegations versus Ortiz. The last thing the business of boxing and the organizers of this event needed was to become another example of warped priorities in the era of the “Me Too” movement.
It seemed early on that perhaps Ortiz would be allowed to face Molina. This story in the LA Times (as the whole story originally broke) by Lance Pugmire, contained the following passage:
“He’s going to fight. We got him out of jail, he’s home,” said an official connected to the card at Citizens Business Bank Arena who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the gravity of the situation.”
Boxing can be as tone deaf as they come but even they would’ve heard the outcry, had they let Ortiz box this weekend.
And quite frankly Ortiz has bigger issues to worry about than losing this assignment. To be clear, this is no judgment on his most recent charges but everyone’s favorite “Tree” has an undeniable track record, which includes an assault at a Kenny Chesney concert and a DUI that speaks for itself. Personally I’ve always felt Ortiz took a bit too much heat from fans for his in-ring foibles. To me, he was this quirky character, whose biggest flaw is he was a bit of a front runner inside the ring. His biggest crime, at least for a period of time, was not living up to the high expectations that were once placed on him. However with the totality of the events…well, it’s clear he’s a troubled individual.
The show will proceed on Sunday night: the PBC announced that the featherweight bout between Brandon Figueroa and Oscar Escandon is still on and heavyweight hopeful Joe Joyce will also be in action.
Molina will fight at some point this fall.
However Ortiz has a much bigger battle in front of him.
On December 1, Showtime will have a special early start time to its broadcast featuring the bout between WBC light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson and Oleksandr Gvozdyk…Speaking of that date, it was formally announced that the match-up between WBC heavyweight beltholder Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Wilder and Fury will participate in a press tour next week that will include stops in London, New York and Los Angeles…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.