Puerto Rican Lightweight legend 🇵🇷Carlos Ortiz (61-7-1, 30KO) was the true embodiment of consistency and class, as was what was exhibited during his historic 16½ year campaign…
He was a very accurate pinpoint puncher who liked to make his living in middle distance, who possessed very good footwork to allow him to take his attack inside if need be, with a heightened sense & ability to use his shoulders, and forearms to pivot, putting his opponents within his desired range to get his short shots off with optimal results. While he wasn’t notoriously a big puncher, he had more than enough power draw respect from his fellow combatant, and to get done what needed to be done in the ring. He had a very efficient and disciplined approach, who was not one to waste a punch, but had enough where-with-all to stay active and keep his opponents engaged in the action throughout their fights. He was without a doubt one of the best fighters to come out of the storied Island & the glorified history of Puerto Rico.
Carlos grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and later took residence in New York City in pursuit of starting his boxing journey. Starting professionally in 1955, he fought most of his first few fights in Midtown Manhattan at the St. Nicholas Arena at the Junior-Welterweight division. A common theme that was reoccurring in Ortiz career was his reversal of fortune after losses, and that started early in 1958, losing a SD to a fella named Johnny Busso, but immediately turning the tides 3 months later by defeating Russo. Soon after he lost another close fight to Kenny Layne, yet he got his revenge in a re-match, which was also Ortiz first World Title Fight, that took place a half year later. Ortiz managed to defeat Layne as Kenny had sustained some bad cuts in their 2 round encounter after knocking him down in the 2nd frame, thus forcing a stoppage to the fight, and making Carlos Ortiz the new Junior-Welterweight Champion of the World in 1959. Upon his brand new position as a World Champion, he had to cross paths with his first great opponent, and that was Italian stand-out Duilio Loi, who came into the fight with a record of 102-1-7. Loi gave the Champion hell, and forced him to dig down deep. Though a very challenging contest, Ortiz was able to retain his title with a close verdict in his favor from the judges and unofficial scorers in attendance. There was an immediate re-match, and unfortunately for Ortiz this time, Duilio Loi bounced back with a more convincing effort in front of a crowd in Italy, winning the re-match and lifting the Light-Welterweight Crown off of Ortiz head. A third and final rubber-match between the two was orchestrated the following year, however this time Duilio Loi dominated, putting the exclamation point on their rivalry, winning the Trilogy, and retaining the Junior-Lightweight Championship Belt. From this point on, Carlos Ortiz decided the best rout for him to take would be to drop down a division to camp out at Lightweight, and weigh his prospects of seeking a shot at the World Title.
Next year in 1962, he worked himself up to position to face Hall-of-Famer, and reigning Lightweight Champion of the World Joe Brown. Ortiz looked to have beaten him to the punch all night, and made good use of the jab, out-dueling the 134 fight veteran, capturing his second title in as many divisions, becoming the new LINEAL & WBA Lightweight Champion of the world. In the following year, Carlos looked to merge belts together to become the Undisputed Champion, and the man holding the WBC title was Cuba’s Doug Vaillant, who Ortiz had previously beaten a few years back in a non-title fight. Carlos looked like a man possessed, walking the Cuban fighter down, landing multiple combinations. Vaillant made a valiant effort of it (see what I did there?), but Ortiz was too much for him, and suffered a 13th round KO at the hands of Ortiz, who now without a doubt stood atop the Lightweight division. Carlos Ortiz next big assignment was against Filipino boxing legend Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde in 1964. A back-and-forth fight between 2 legends it was, where Elorde was stopped n the 14th round, with protest from Elorde feeling the Referee had stopped the fight prematurely due to accumulation of punishment (Pictured Below).
Next up, Ortiz won his rubber-match against Kenny Layne, the verdict being by competitive, but clear Unanimous Decision, which set up a big match with Panamanian Lightweight Ismael Laguna. Taking their fight to Panama City, Ismael was a handful for Ortiz, bothering him early with his sharp fleet-footed attack, so Ortiz decided to level up and rise to the challenge, to close the distance and let his hands go. While Ortiz figured out what to do in the back-end of the fight, it was too little, too late, and he found himself on the losing end of a Decision, making Laguna the new Lightweight Champion of the world. An immediate re-match ensued between Carlos Ortiz & Ismael Laguna, this time in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Ortiz seemed to carry over what he had figured out late in the first fight, applying it better through 15 rounds and earning a Unanimous Decision victory to take back his claim as the Champion in the Lightweight division.
In 1967, Carlos would travel to Argentina to fight elusive master-boxer Nicolino Locche in the Junior-Welterweight division. The fight was a tactical bout, as was the case in a typical Locche fight, with both fighters relying more on their guile than aggression. They fought 10 rounds, and on the judges scorecards, the bout was declared a Draw. The crowd reportedly was displeasing of the verdict, seeming to back Ortiz in belief that he had pulled the fight off, but that’s always a concern when a boxer fights abroad, particularly in Argentina. A bout with former Undisputed Featherweight Champion Ultimino ‘Sugar’ Ramos followed. Some serious action broke our in the bout, but the fight was called early due to a bad cut that manifested over the left eye of Ultimino. There was major controversy between Referee Billy Conn & the Ringside Physician, with conflicting reports on whether the fight was called to be stopped, or to let it continue. After a ruling by the WBC, they concluded that Conn was in the wrong with his call, so the WBC belt that Ortiz possessed was declared vacant, only for it to be eligible to win back in a re-match to come later. About 5 weeks later, Ortiz would partake in a re-match with Flash Elorde, and what a dominating showing by the Puerto Rican Champion, with Ortiz finding home down the stretch late in the 14th round, where he belted Flash with a bodypunch that started the onslaught of a wide variety of power powers cleverly laid out in sequence, that eventually knocked Elorde out cold on his back, hardly reacting to the count as Ortiz racked up another knockout victory, in the same round as their first encounter. Following, the re-match between Ortiz and Sugar Ramos materialized, with Ortiz being the LINEAL/WBA Lightweight Champion, and the WBC title vacant and eligible to win after the mishap that occurred during their first encounter a year earlier. Ortiz got him this time around, with no questions asked, stopping Ramos out in the 4th round to realligning the WBC belt with the rest of the hardware he possessed. There was yet another rubber-match that Ortiz had to take care of, and that was his 3rd fight with Ismael Laguna (Pictured Below).
Ortiz put together a vintage performance to put the rivalry to rest, winning a wide Unanimous Decision on all 3 cards. In the summer of 1968, Ortiz fought a fella named Carlos Teo Cruz in his hometown of the Dominican Republic. To everyone’s shock, Cruz pulled off the Unanimous Decision to become not just the new Lightweight Champion of the world, but also the Dominican Republic’s first World Champion in boxing history. Ortiz never got the re-match, so he spent the next 4 years taking on mid-level competition before he ran into Scottish legend Ken Buchanan in 1973. Buchanan dominated Ortiz and forced him to retire on his stool after the 6th round, also retiring him from the sport of boxing. The long run of Ortiz was over, but during his tenure, he became a legendary figure in the sport of boxing, and served as perhaps Puerto Rico’s greatest role-model for young talent that followed him & set out to emulate the level of his greatness. Here are a list of his accomplishments.
2X Undisputed Champion (135 twice)
3X Lineal World Champion (135 twice, 140)
6X World Champion (WBA, WBC, LINEAL)
2-Division Champion (135, 140)
Won 14 World Title Bouts
8 Wins over 5 Hall-of-Fame Fighters
Revered as One of the Greatest Lightweights to Ever Put Gloves on
Universally Regarded as One of the Best Puerto-Rican Boxers All-Time
Ring-Magazine 1966 Round of the Year (Round 5, Ortiz/Ramos I)
International Boxing Hall-of-Fame (Inducted in 1991)
SIGNATURE MOMENT – Perhaps him overtaking ⚡Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde in their First Fight, Stopping Him Inside the Distance.
NOTABLE WINS – 🇮🇹Duilio Loi, 🇵🇦Ismael Laguna (2X), 🇵🇭Flash Elorde (2X), 🇨🇺Sugar Ramos (2X), 🇺🇸Joe Brown, 🇺🇸Kenny Lane (2X).
NOTABLE DRAWS – 🇦🇷Nicolino Locche.