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Boxing Mourns The Passing Of Carlos Ortiz

Images: Wilkipedia

New York – The boxing world received word Monday about the passing of Hall of Famer and former lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz. The past few years, Ortiz, a 83-year old native of Ponce Puerto Rico, wasn’t at ringside or in the spotlight due to his decline in health.

Ortiz was in the class of other great Hall of Fame fighters from Puerto Rico. Though fighting in a different era he did not get the accolades of Wilfredo Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, Hector Camacho, Felix Triniadad, and the first four division champion from Puerto Rico, Miguel Cotto.

But boxing history said, Ortiz had a great punch and technical style that earned him three world titles, two at lightweight and one at light welterweight.

In today’s boxing standards this would have been a perfect era for Carlos Ortiz as the lightweight division has become a premiere spotlight of the sport with young superstars that earn significant purse money and residuals of pay-per-view revenue.

That was another era when boxing was different. There were 15-round championship fights as opposed to the current 12-round system. There were two judges at ringside and the referee also figured in the scoring if the fight went the decision route.

However, Ortiz was a fighter that finished business before going to the scorecards, 70 fights as a pro and 30 ended in a stoppage. That was power and the epitome of a technician at work. Over the years, Trinidad and Coto would meet and greet Ortiz at ringside.

Trinidad would invite Ortiz to his home outside of San Juan. They traded stories and were proud to show each other their championship title belts from two different eras of boxing history.

Ortiz began his professional career in 1955 with a first round knockout of Harry Bell in New York City. He moved from Puerto Rico to New York before he began boxing as a professional and would continue the first stages of his career in New York, but after 9 bouts there, he fought outside New York for the first time and moved to Massachusetts where he knocked out Al Duarte in four rounds. His next three bouts were also outside New York,

“Boxing has always been a learning tool for young people and every gym should open the doors to them,” Ortiz said to me over the years when we had more than one discussion about the sport and how it builds discipline.

It was more than the money. Boxing built the discipline for Carlos Ortiz and until a few years ago, he was a goodwill ambassador for the sport. Later,he was employed part time for Everlast, the main supplier of gloves and equipment for fighters and various promoters.

Ortiz would check in at a warehouse that housed Everlast in the South Bronx. If the young and aspiring fighters, or the struggling boxing gyms needed a helping hand with equipment, he was the first to pitch executives about being their ambassador to deliver the goods at no cost or on consignment.

“I always loved helping the kids,” he said. “Boxing gave me opportunity, I need to do the same for them today,”

The fight for Ortiz, June 29, 1968 proved to be his last day as a world champion, as he lost his world lightweight title to Dominican Carlos Cruz on a 15-round decision in the Dominican Republic. Ortiz kept on fighting, but he never got another chance at a world title. He retired after losing at Madison Square Garden by a knockout in 6 rounds to Ken Buchanan.

Ortiz said to me many years later, “You lose some and win some. I lost and went on to accept the defeat to a better fighter.”

Yes, then, Cruz was the better fighter. Unfortunate, though, Carlos Ortiz was remembered for that loss. It wasn’t his best night, but Ortiz came to fight.

The fight was to assure others got the opportunity he had. Ortiz was always the first advocate to see improvements for the sport and giving youngsters opportunity. The gym was a safe haven and built discipline as it did for him.

Perhaps, an unheralded top five fighter to come out of Puerto Rico and the Hall Of Fame induction put an explanation point on his career.

Rest In Peace Champ

Rich Mancuso is a senior writer with Twitter@Ring786 Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 10pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Julio Pabón

    June 15, 2022 at 12:02 am

    Carlos know and respected for being the second world champion from Puerto Rico, the first was Sixto Escobar. Bronx and NY Puerto Ricans remember him for his famous Puerto Rican dance club, El Tropicoro on Southern Blvd.

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