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By Rich Mazon

The parallelism of Victor Ortiz and Manny Pacquiao
Sat, 17 Sep 2011

Victor Ortiz and Manny Pacquiao are in some ways alike, in their experiences outside and inside the ring. As fighters, both are southpaws. Both produce explosive punching power with their hands. Both are current welterweight champions and both are exciting to watch in the ring.

Outside of the ring, both men are product of a not so easy life. Both came from a family devastated by abandonment and separation. Their fathers left them at a young age, Pacquiao and Ortiz both 12 at that time. Ortiz though, suffered the abandonment early when his mother left them at the care of their father five years earlier. Both became men at a tender age because of the circumstances that they face in their young life. Pacquiao left his home of General Santos City when he was 14 and sailed away 600 miles to the capital city of Manila in search of a job, any job to help support his mother and five other siblings. Pacquiao sold doughnuts and worked construction to earn money. Ortiz at 12 would carry a hoe and work the cornfields of Kansas to earn his living. He even admitted that he dealt drugs in the streets of his home city of Garden City, Kansas as a teenager. Ortiz and Pacquiao grew and hustled in their own "streets of life" thousands of miles apart in the early years of their life.

That is why when Ortiz was called upon by Freddie Roach to provide sparring work with Pacquiao in 2008, the result was a rough one between the two boxers. Ortiz fought toe to toe with Pacquiao who was then preparing for his lightweight battle against David Diaz. A clash between two street bred fighters will always end up into a good one even if it is just sparring. This is the same attitude that is in born of the two fighters; aggressive, forthcoming and without any care in the world. At least this was the Pacquiao of old. Victor Ortiz was like that in his last fight against Andre Berto. He attacked the then welterweight champ like a man possessed. He threw punches with bad intentions at all times in that rainy evening in April of this year. Ortiz rampaged into the stunned Berto with all he had, nixing any semblance of defense which he paid for when he got knocked down by the Berto. He got up from his second knockdown in round six and retaliated with a knockdown of his own merely seconds apart of the two. Ortiz scored the upset on the favored champion in Andre Berto to win his first world title.

Manny Pacquiao was the underdog too on his first venture to win his first world title belt in 1998. This was in the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand against Chatchai Sasakul for the WBC flyweight belt. Sasakul was 33-1 and the more experienced fighter of the two, having been a veteran of seven years. Pacquiao is 23-1 and has a mere three year stint in the ring back then. It was at Sasakul's home turf and was also, only his second fight out of the Philippines. But Pacquiao made up for his lack of experience and technical skill with speed, power and aggression that left Sasakul face first in the canvass in round eight of that fight. Again, the similarity with Victor Ortiz comes into mind on the manner they won their first world title belt.

Pacquiao has developed into the sport's best thirteen years after that fight in Thailand. He is also its top draw after he forced Oscar dela Hoya into retirement in 2008. He has become a more complete and thinking fighter as the years passed. More so, he has accumulated a record seven additional title belts at seven other weight classes after winning the WBC flyweight belt in 1998. A feat no one has ever accomplished in the past. Pacquiao is clearly the top dog of the boxing world. On the other hand, Victor Ortiz is the sport's newest sensation with his victory against Berto last April and now in his mega fight tonight against Pacquiao's close rival to the throne, Floyd Mayweather Jr. His performance against Berto catapults him to this spotlight with Mayweather tonight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. An underdog against Berto, Ortiz is once again an underdog against the unbeaten Mayweather. And a huge 8-1 underdog at that. Tonight as he fights the biggest fight of his young career before the eyes of millions all over the world, Victor Ortiz should look at a tape of Manny Pacquiao when he fought Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in 2001.

Like Ortiz, Pacquiao then was the underdog. It was Pacquiao's first fight in the big lights of Las Vegas, similar to the ones that will shine on Ortiz tonight. It was Pacquiao's launch pad to stardom after his upset win over the South African super bantamweight champ. If Ortiz continues to defy the odds and beat Mayweather tonight, this will be more than his launching pad. It will rocket launch him at the top of the boxing world, side by side with where Manny Pacquiao is now. Because when all similarities between him and Pacquiao are accounted for, the one glaring difference that will stand out is that Floyd Mayweather Jr. opted to fight him instead of Pacquiao. And if he wins, the similarities end there.

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