By and large, I'm not a fan of anyone telling writers or analysts who are not ex-boxers that their judgments are suspect because they haven’t boxed. Fair to say I don’t think it detracts from Larry Merchant's efficacy that he didn’t go into prizefighting. There are loads of superb analysts calling NFL action, and boxing, and so on and so forth, who maybe topped out at Pop Warner, or schoolyard scraps. But on some occasions, I do think it is best left to those in the arena to weigh in, because the matter is so sensitive, so particular to the needed skill and mindset of a prizefighter. I can weigh in on whether or not I think Victor Ortiz is a “quitter,” for choosing to not start the 10th round against Josesito Lopez on Saturday night in L.A. because his jaw was busted ... but I think my opinion is not as valid as someone who has actually went through the same or quite similar experience in the ring.
So I reached out to Brooklyn's Paulie Malignaggi -- who looked the worse for wear, with a bloody nose, swollen right cheek, blood streaming from inside his mouth and his right orbital bone busted, into Round 9 and 10 of his 2006 fight with Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, but who fought on. He stubbornly willed himself to continue, to whatever the bitter end held for him, because he wouldn’t accept anything less from himself. He lost a unanimous decision, and needed time to heal up ... but he proved more in that loss, to himself, to the world, than he did in 30 other wins.
So, Paulie, does Ortiz deserve to be called a “quitter?”
“He dug his own hole,” Malignaggi told me. “He made his rep. I’m not saying this to punk him out, but he didn’t perform well under pressure. Now, people judge him harshly on this, and some say it’s unfair, this kid really did have an injury, and his jaw didn’t look good ... but it’s almost like the boy who cried wolf.
"I feel bad for Victor, all of us don’t have the same pain tolerance. And you don’t know what you’ll do till the situation occurs. In the moment, against Cotto, I felt like I had to fight through it, that’s me. You don’t know how you’ll react till you’re there. He’s 25, only a kid."
Malignaggi thought Ortiz's strategy left something to be desired, along with his will to overcome an immense physical obstacle. "Victor is very talented, he’s got the ability to use his boxing skills, but he takes the fights into the trenches when it has no business going there," he said. "But mentally, he could I think use a sports psychologist.”