How do they keep turning out such great fighters? Jose Torres, Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez, Felix Trinidad and now Miguel Cotto. Puerto Rico has put their stamp on the fistic map!
In the forty five years I’ve followed the great sport of boxing I’ve seen two lightweights that were not only Puerto Rican stand-outs but in my opinion among the greatest lightweights of all time.
I am speaking of former champions Carlos Ortiz and the late Esteban DeJesus. Who would have won if these two fine fighting machines had met in their primes?
Carlos Ortiz dominated the lightweight division in the mid and late 60’s. He was extremely strong and powerful for his weight. He was also more clever than ever given credit for. He was a solid puncher with a sturdy chin. Only the vastly talented Ismael Laguna was able to give Carlos problems at his peak.
Then you have Esteban DeJesus. If there was ever a fighter who fought atthe wrong time it was Esteban. If only Roberto Duran had not been around…DeJesus beat Duran in their first bout, a non-title affair. Roberto then came back to twice halt Esteban in championship encounters. In between all that Esteban won the W.B.C. version of the title by whipping Guts Suzuki.
This is not a feat that should taken lightly. Suzuki had held his own with Laguna and Duran. He twice kayoed the respected Rodolfo Gonzalez. He won against tough Tury ”The Fury” Pineda and defeated future Hall Of Famer Ken Buchanan.
By defeating Suzuki, DeJesus proved he was the top challenger for Roberto’s undisputed claim. History tells us that Roberto won their rubber match and moved on into boxing legend. Esteban would slowly fade from the scene.
After Carlos Ortiz lost the title in an upset to Carlos ”Teo” Cruz, he to would fade from the limelight. He would come back in the mid 70’s in hopes of fighting Duran. Instead he would meet the clever Buchanan who stopped the shop-worn Ortiz.
How would Ortiz and DeJesus match up? Who would have come out on top?
These two men were fifteen round fighters. The true championship distance. DeJesus may have been the better overall boxer. He was a smooth
counter-puncher. His counter left was awesome. Ask Duran. Esteban floored Roberto twice with that punch.
Ortiz was the stronger and probably the harder hitter although neither fighter was a one punch KO artist.
I see Esteban out-speeding and out-boxing Ortiz in the early going. Carlos is smart and he’s not allowing himself to get hit with any big shots. Still DeJesus is setting the pace and building up a nice points lead. Carlos begins to to close the margin during the middle rounds. While he becomes more aggressive he leaves himself open for Esteban’s effective counters. After ten hard fought rounds DeJesus has a slight lead. The tide begins to turn in rounds eleven and twelve as the strength of Ortiz becomes a factor. Going into the ”championship rounds“, it has become anyone’s fight.
Only a fool could not see that at this point Carlos was the fresher of the two. Esteban was wilting from the Ortiz body attack as well as his bully tactics.
A sustained body barrage puts Esteban down for a short count in the thirteenth. Another body blistering has him down late in the fourteenth.
Somehow Esteban finds the strength to rally in the last round as it now seems that Ortiz is spent.
The final bell… The winner by a close but unanimous decision; Carlos Ortiz!!!!
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- Jim Amato