Unbeaten Jamaine Ortiz Quickly Earning
Praise As Championship Contender
There's a time in every boxer's career when he or she hopes
to take the leap from prospect to contender.
While there's no set timetable for when a fighter is
supposed to climb the next rung on the ladder, most will
know when their time has come. With that designation comes
additional responsibilities and expectations. Fights are
more competitive, training camps are usually longer and more
exhausting and, for the select few lucky enough to get this
far, the paydays are much brighter.
At 11-0, Worcester, MA, lightweight Jamaine Ortiz is still
considered a prospect by most, but the reigning WBC Youth
World Champion doesn't plan on staying in that lane for too
long. If Ortiz has his way, he'll be in the conversation
among the sport's top 135-pounders within the next year and
a half, if he isn't already.
"My job is to be ready for that opportunity," said Ortiz,
who returns Friday night at Twin River Casino Hotel in the
co-main event of CES Boxing's summer-ending showcase at the
"I have big goals. I want to go up that ladder. I'm not just
content with that WBC belt. My main mission is to win
multiple world titles."
Since capturing the WBC Youth crown in February with a
convincing win over previously-unbeaten Oxnard, CA, native
Ricardo Quiroz, Ortiz may have officially made the leap from
prospect to contender. The belt he wears now was worn by
some of the sport's best, from Canelo Alvarez to Chad
Dawson, and being part of the hierarchy of WBC champions
usually results in instant gratification in the form of
higher rankings and notoriety.
Eight weeks after beating Quiroz, Ortiz returned to Twin
River and made quick work of Brazilian Vitor Jones, stopping
the veteran by first-round knockout. Now he faces another
relatively unknown international standout in Romain Couture
(8-1-1, 4 KO), a budding prospect from France who fights on
U.S. soil for the first time.
For Ortiz, these last few months have provided unrivaled
peace of mind, specifically now that he has overcome the
hand injuries that kept him out of action for most of 2018.
Rest and recovery allowed him to avoid surgery, and he
returned with a bang in February to beat Quiroz following a
nine-month layoff, eschewing the tune-up fight most boxers
demand after such a long time away from the ring.
Ortiz is a rare breed, a fighter who knows he can't be the
best unless he beats the best. That mentality carried him
through his amateur career when he won more than 100 fights
and earned a trip to the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic
Trials in Nevada. As a pro, he continues to move forward,
stepping up the level of competition each time, provided
most lightweights in his path don't try to avoid him.
"Right now, I feel like I don't have the spotlight I want
yet, so whoever is in front of me, I'm going to knock down
until I get there," Ortiz said. "I know a lot of people want
the belt, so I have to stay focused."
The 23-year-old Ortiz is aware of his surroundings and knows
who currently owns that spotlight in the 135- and even the
140-pound divisions, prime contenders such as Ryan Garcia or
Devin Haney, both of whom Ortiz envisions himself fighting
in the near future. He's also wary of the upsets this year
that have turned the sport on its ear, so he's cautious of
getting too far ahead of himself or overlooking any of his
opponents regardless of their experience.
"Anything can happen. This is boxing," Ortiz said. "I don't
let up on anyone. Regardless of what happened in February
and with me winning the title, my work ethic hasn't changed
one bit. I still train hard. Now I'm just more focused."
As an apprentice carpenter and member of the Local 107
carpenter's union, Ortiz has flexibility with his job that
allows him to take time off when necessary in preparation
for a fight, a luxury most fighters don't have. He's reached
the point in his career where he understand he needs to put
everything he has into boxing in order to reach the lofty
goals he's set for himself.
Some may still consider him a prospect, but as he continues
to mow down one opponent after another, it's hard to look at
the hard-hitting, elusive Ortiz as a serious contender in
the 135-pound division.
"When my time comes, I'm going to put on a show," Ortiz
said. "I just finished one of the best camps I've ever had.
I'm pain-free for the first time in a while. If I want to be
the best, I have to prove it. Whatever competition is in
front of me, I'm ready for it."
Next Friday's main event features reigning NBA Heavyweight
World Champion Juiseppe Cusumano (18-2, 16 KOs) of Sicily in
the quest to add another belt to his collection when he
battles "The Gentle Giant" Steve Vukosa (11-1, 4 KOs) of
nearby Quincy, MA, in an eight-round bout for the vacant WBC
In the co-main event, WBC Youth World Lightweight Champion
Jamaine Ortiz (11-0, 6 KOs) of Worcester, MA, puts his
unbeaten record on the line in an eight-round showdown
against French challenger Romain Couture (8-1-1, 4 KOs), who
makes his United States debut.
The undercard features six undefeated prospects looking to
keep their perfect records, including Pawtucket, RI,
featherweight Ricky De Los Santos (8-0, 1 KO), who battles
Reading, PA, vet and Dominican standout Yeuri Andujar (4-1,
3 KOs) in a six-round featured bout. Lightweight Michael
Valentin (6-0, 1 KO) of Providence, RI, also steps up in his
toughest test to date against Philadelphia's Lonnie Jackson
Jr. (4-1-1, 1 KO), in a six-round special attraction.
Another red-hot fighter, Marqus Bates (7-2, 5 KOs) of
Taunton, MA, aims for his sixth consecutive win in an
intriguing six-round welterweight bout against well-traveled
Lancaster, PA, vet Evincii Dixon (8-23-2, 3 KOs), who fights
for the 34th time in six years and returns to Rhode Island
for the first time since 2013.
Also facing a tall order on the undercard, Big Six Boxing
Academy super welterweights Victor Reynoso (4-0, 4 KOs) and
Lamont Powell (4-0, 1 KO), both of Providence, put their
identical records on the line in four-round featured bouts.
Reynoso battles Canadian Kenny Chery (2-2, 1 KO), whom
Powell faced in February, while Powell looks to build off
his impressive win in April in a major step-up against
Reading's Ricardo Garcia (14-7-1, 9 KOs), a Dominican
Republic native and veteran of 22 professional fights.
A potential showstopper between unbeaten super lightweight
prospects Elijah Peixoto (1-0, 1 KO) of East Providence, RI,
and 26-year-old "Slick Hands" Carlos Otero (2-0) of Tampa
highlights the preliminary card. Peixoto debuted earlier
this year in grand fashion with a knockout win over Carlos
Galindo. Otero, a decorated amateur much like Peixoto,
returns from a two-year layoff. Worcester, MA, welterweight
Nicholas Briggs (4-0, 3 KOs), also unbeaten, returns to face
Macon, GA, native Bryan Goldsby (5-13), a veteran of 18