In boxing, it’s easy to prove you’re the best… all you have do is win. For WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz, winning has come with hard work and knowing what losing really feels like.
Born in Liberal and raised in Garden City, Kansas, it hasn’t always been pay-per-view boxing match-ups and big pay days for Ortiz. By the time he was 10 years old, he and his siblings were abandoned by his parents and left to be raised in the Kansas foster care system.
“I grew up with a Caucasian family and before that I was running around like a stray dog,” said Ortiz, a Mexican-American. “I’ve been through a lot, you know. And I always say… what can this person give me that I haven’t gone through or I haven’t already received?”
At some point during his amateur career, Ortiz dealt drugs to make money. He would later quit after he saw his picture on the cover of a local paper when he won a Golden Gloves championship, and he realized that he could be something better.
“I’ve been through it all. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the highs; I’ve seen the lows,” said Ortiz.
His fight to survive and his drive to win has carried over to a career in boxing. Ortiz, now 24, is a world champion whose prominence rises with each victor.
For his next fight he’ll try to defeat someone who has never lost and someone who is considered one of the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world: Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.
“I’m not taking this fight because of the pay and this and that," said Ortiz. “I just want Floyd, you know. He’s one of the best of all time.”
Floyd will face a challenger for the first time in 16 months after a lengthy lay-off that included some legal troubles. But don’t think Ortiz is underestimating his opponent.
“You can’t underestimate anyone, man. He’s a great fighter. So it’d be ignorant on my behalf to think of him as some kind of, like, walking stepping stone,” said Ortiz.
While the days of living like a “stray dog” are long gone and life of a well-paid fighter is his new life, Ortiz doesn’t forget what made him who he is today.
“I’ve been to the bottom. I’ve tasted the dirt. I’ve been that piece of gum on the bottom of people’s shoe,” said Ortiz. “So at the end of it I was like, What are you going to give me that I haven’t already been through?'”
In boxing today, two names have become the focal point of the sport, Floyd and Manny Pacquiao (who most consider the best in the sport). With this fight, Ortiz has an opportunity to become a household name and the best in his profession.
“I always wanted to go down in history as one of the all-time greats. I’m knocking at the door, you know. And I’m definitely going to stay here as champion,” said Ortiz. “I want that history that they have. I want that pie. You know what I mean? ... I’m not just trying a little bite here. [No]. I’m going to swallow it all.”
September 17th in Las Vegas, NV he’ll have his chance to cement his legacy.
Victor García is an associate producer for Fox News Channel and a regular contributor to FoxNewsLatino.com.