Victor Ortiz vs. Yori Boy Campas: A sad spectacle that shouldn't take place

DURING a year in which the collective aim has been to make massive fights between the biggest names in boxing and to honor fighters who have given their all in the ring, the sport still finds a way to revert to its shameless flouting of human life. This latest charade will take place on August 31 at the American Legion in Garden City, Kansas, where former welterweight world champion Victor Ortiz, 37, will square off against 52-year-old Yori Boy Campas, who last held a major world title 26 years ago.

During the COVID-19 era, bouts fueled by boredom and a need for silly entertainment was somewhat accepted and to some, necessary. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. came back for an exhibition that generated 1.6 million pay-per-view buys on Triller; Jake Paul beat up Nate Robinson on the same card, and the following year, Vitor Belfort knocked out Evander Holyfield in a brutal beatdown of the former two-division world champion in their unofficial contest.

Except for Belfort’s destruction of Holyfield and a handful of Floyd Mayweather’s exhibitions, a majority of these fights are subdued into glorified sparring sessions and offer enough entertainment, if you’re a fan of it, to be preoccupied for a part of the night. These fights should have ended in 2021 at the latest. But instead, boxing has continued to entertain this buffoonery. Ortiz-Campas is not an exhibition; it’s a sanctioned professional fight, and that’s a problem.

Campas’s silver lining, if you want to call it that, is that he maintained a consistent level of activity until 2016. He returned for one fight in 2018 and took five years off leading up to a bout last July when he scored a knockout of an eighth-round knockout of Juan Carlos Parra Rodriguez in Mexico. Campas announced his retirement immediately following this fight, but that appears to be short-lived.

Setting aside his age, Campas has not faced a formidable opponent in over a decade. For instance, Rodriguez, as previously mentioned, entered their scheduled 10-round bout with a less-than-stellar record of 8-23-2 with seven knockouts. While Ortiz (33-7-3, 25 KOs) may be past his prime, if he were to approach this fight with the same intensity as his previous 43 professional contests, the consequences for the former junior middleweight world champion could be severe. To put it into perspective, Ortiz is 15 years younger than Campas, and this author was a mere nine years old when Campas unsuccessfully challenged Oscar De La Hoya for the unified 154-pound titles in 2003. Ortiz-Campas is both a fight and a simultaneous master class in self-harm. It’s akin to a retired hockey player in his mid-30s joining a seniors league and checking them at full force into the boards without regard for their fragility. This is a situation that is unlikely to end well.

Former two-time world title challenger Alfonso Gomez (25-6-2, 12 KOs), who has not fought in nearly a decade, will also box on the card against an opponent to be determined. Gomez was knocked out by a then-unbeaten Miguel Cotto for the WBA welterweight title in an April 2008 matchup at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Three years later, Gomez attempted to become a world champion at 154 pounds against an unbeaten Saul “Canelo” Alvarez but was dropped and stopped in six rounds. If this is one of those journeymen fights, that would be acceptable, albeit pointless. But if it’s a serious threat, that’s a significant concern for the now-43-year-old Gomez.

Ortiz is considered royalty in Garden City. The local county, in fact, has billed Ortiz-Campas as the “Homecoming of Victor Ortiz Boxing Event.” Finney County hosted the “Vicious Victor Ortiz Invitational” last August to support amateur boxing. Ortiz was in attendance to hand out “prizes” to the winners of each respective bout. And what better way to honor their dignitary than by having him desecrate an old man who has no business taking any further punishment in the ring?

So honorable.

Boxing is gaining considerable momentum as we approach the halfway mark of 2024. Turki Alalshikh’s idea behind creating a league is revolutionary, and if executed properly, it would work similarly to the UFC’s model, where there are no outside promoters meddling to match their fighter with an opponent that fans have no interest in watching. Instead, the best would fight the best.

That’s what we must look forward to, not some shameless beatdown in the middle of nowhere.

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