Teofimo Lopez just barely managed to defend his title on Thursday night.
Lopez survived a slow, defensive bout to beat Jamaine Ortiz via a unanimous decision in what was a rough bout all around at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
Ortiz frustrated Lopez throughout the entire match, bouncing around the ring and causing him to miss most of his moments while slowly wearing down the champ. There were only two rounds where there were double digit connects throughout the entire 12-round bout in what was a very lackluster offensive performance from both fighters. Neither fighter landed more than 21% of their punches, and Ortiz was forcing Lopez to miss consistently throughout the entire match.
But in the end, judges gave Lopez the narrow win, which allowed him to retain his WBO junior welterweight title.
“We cannot for one second claim these people, these fighters that don’t want to come and fight,” Lopez said with boos reigning down in the aren. “You go to blood, sweat and tears … if you ain’t ready for this life, get the f**k out of my sport. I am a champion. I bleed for this. I sweat for this. I cry for this, every time.”
Lopez landed a few solid shots in the second round after a slow opening sequence, though Ortiz landed a big uppercut in the third after backing Lopez into the corner. Lopez baited Ortiz into the corner in the fourth round, too, and Ortiz took full advantage landing several body shots before grabbing another right hook before the bell rang — which left Lopez smiling.
Ortiz appeared to jump ahead through the midway point, too, which left Lopez frustrated after failing to get many shots landed. But finally, in the seventh round, Lopez connected with Ortiz’s head and sent blood pouring down his cheek, which prompted a timeout. That got Lopez back into his rhythm, and he closed out the round strong to steal the momentum right back. He was 10 of 18 with his power punches in the round, which was by far his best of the night.
Ortiz jumped right back in it through the ninth, though, and Lopez actually slipped and hit the mat in that round. But again, not much went down between the two. Lopez came out swinging in the 11th, and landed a hard right to kick off the round almost instantly. The two traded tough swings in the final seconds in the center of the ring, too, but it didn’t seem to make a difference either way.
Lopez won 115-113 on two cards and 117-111 on the third to grab his unanimous decision win. The 26-year-old now has a 20-1 overall record with 13 KOs in his career. He last beat Josh Taylor via unanimous decision last summer, which was his third straight win following his loss to George Kambosos in 2021. Ortiz dropped to 17-2-1 overall with 8 KOs entering the fight, though he’s now lost two of his last three bouts.
Lopez was upset that Ortiz “didn’t want to fight,” but Ortiz clearly had that plan throughout the match.
“I stuck to the game plan,” Ortiz said on ESPN. “I was doing good, I thought I was winning, that’s what I believe, I believe I won the fight. What can I say, I came up on the short end of the stick once again.”
Regardless, Lopez will keep his belt and remain on top of the sport.