What is a strong boxing schedule for the month of April got off to an ominous start as the pivotal welterweight contest between Vergil Ortiz and Eimantas Stanionis was scrapped because of health issues pertaining to Ortiz.
Rumors started to circulate on Wednesday night that the bout for the WBA interim title(held by Stanionis) that was to take place at the AT@T Center in San Antonio was in jeopardy.
The question at hand coming into last weekend was: could Ortiz make the 147-pound weight limit for this contest?
By Thursday morning, Golden Boy Promotions announced that this contest had been called off.
Ortiz-Stanionis has been a star-crossed bout, as it had been postponed a couple of times before due to health issues with both boxers. It was hoped that this match-up would finally come to fruition, given that much was at stake, and for the fans, it was a pairing of two highly ranked welterweights.
But it was revealed on Thursday morning that Ortiz was pulled from this bout, and it was reported that he had fainted and was hospitalized. The 25 year old Ortiz had suffered from a case of rhabdomyolysis, which scuttled a date last year. For those of you without medical degrees (and I'm also in this category), this is how the Cleveland Clinic describes this ailment:
There's a high probability that this was caused by over-training, and in an era when main event boxers are so inactive, you have situations where boxers such as Oritz are most likely taking off an inordinate amount of weight and putting their health in jeopardy as they put themselves through long, arduous camps. .This is an chicken-or-the-egg situation, does inactivity cause such things as rhabdo, or does rhabdo cause inactivity?
There was a time when Ortiz was a reliable boxer, unlike his other Golden Boy stablemates, was largely free of any drama and could be counted on to show up and do his job in impressive fashion. That's why this scribe gave him the moniker 'Low Maintenance'. But since the summer of 2021, after halting 'Mean Machine' Kavaliauskas, he has had more postponements than fights.
Ortiz is no longer 'Low Maintenance' but 'High Risk'. That may seem harsh or unfair, but there is no ability quite like availability.
And before any talk of him moving up to junior middleweight, he has to get his health in order before any return to the ring is discussed.
Some of this was caused by the logjam created by Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, who circled each other for a few years, while holding all the major belts at 147. And while both Stanionis and Ortiz have been rated number one by various sanctioning bodies, they have either taken step-aside money, or not really pushed for their mandatory positions to be enforced. They both chose the path of least resistance in hopes of fighting for a vacant title versus a much softer touch.
The days of a young Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini battling an all-time great, Alexis Arguello in his first title opportunity, or James Toney challenging Michael Nunn -- in his own hometown, no less -- seem to be long gone. This has become a game of avoidance for many fledgling boxers.
Ortiz and Stanionis played the waiting game.
And they both lost.
Meanwhile in Atlantic City, New Jersey, another young-and-robust welterweight hopeful, Jaron 'Boots' Ennis dutifully made weight and put on an entertaining display in dismantling the tough Roiman Villa over 10 rounds.
Unlike his last outing in January, Villa was tailored made for Ennis, who doesn't just have a full toolbox, but prides himself on being as entertaining as possible. Which is why he got touched up a few times by the rugged Villa. There is a daredevil quality to what he does, and the way he lets his hands go and stays inside the pocket to battle, is a bit reminiscent of another Philly fighter, Meldrick Taylor.
If he can catch, Ennis will be a very tough out.
“My performance was good, [but] I could have listened to my corner a little more,” said Ennis. “My dad wanted me to throw more body shots and give him more angles and not stand in front of him. I was getting hit with shots I wasn’t supposed to get hit with. I appreciate Villa taking this fight. Hats off to him and his family. I appreciate him for coming in and being a warrior.”
Yeah, you can argue that Ennis has also played the waiting game at 147 but at the same time, with his overall skills, he is the very definition of low risk-high reward. At age 26 you wonder how long he can effectively make the welterweight limit. Chances are that Spence-Crawford could have two, if not three, chapters. Which means that 'Boots' may not get his title shot till 2024.
That, and the machinations of the boxing business may be the only thing that can stop him.
Floyd Schofield still needs some spit and polish...Joseph Diaz -- who won in San Antonio on Saturday night on that same card -- would be a good test for him....Diego Pacheco is certainly becoming a blue-chip prospect....'Rocky' Hernandez is an all-action fighter, who will always make for good TV....Yoelvis Gomez was just out-hustled by Marquis Taylor....The Del Taco in Barstow is still very much elite...I can be reached at email@example.com....