Thursday night boxing can be a huge night for a fighter. Since ESPN’s Friday Night Fights was taken off air in 2015, the network and promoter have used weekday fights for a couple reasons.
Of course, a fight not taking place on a Saturday is usually because the main event is weak or one-sided.
However, Top Rank has also used weekday promotions on the back of ESPN events like the NFL’s draft to push a fighter’s commercial appeal.
This is a strategy used by networks and promoters since the dawn of primetime television.
The idea is that a large percentage of fans watching, for example, the Super Bowl will keep the TV on the same channel the game was broadcast on hours after the game’s conclusion.
This tactic has paid dividends for Teofimo Lopez, who received huge promotional bumps from past fight cards surrounding sporting events that attracted large audiences.
This weekend is Super Bowl Sunday, the largest sporting attraction in the United States, and ESPN’s coverage of the event makes this week one of the network’s highest ratings week of the year.
Teofimo Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) will take on 27-year-old Jamaine Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs) tonight in defense of Lopez’s WBO junior welterweight title, live on ESPN.
The promotion will have plenty of eyes on it, and likely more casual fans than would be expected on a typical Thursday night. The fight will come to us live from the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
Even if casuals do not watch the fight live, ESPN will likely show highlights on SportsCenter all night long, giving late-night TV watchers the opportunity to see the outcome, and the replay will be shown on multiple TVs throughout sport bars and restaurants all around the country.
The more exciting the fight, the more impact these replays will have on the winner’s commercial appeal.
For Ortiz, this fight is worth more than the world title on the line, and a statement-making performance could launch Ortiz into a new stratosphere.
Teo is the star, and he is the one for whom Top Rank has big plans.
The Brooklyn-born fighter spent much of his promotion leading up to this fight discussing the possibilities of fighting other big names.
This has been a problem for Teofimo, who lost his lightweight world titles to George Kambosos Jr. a year after the biggest victory of his career—a unanimous decision win against Vasyl Lomachenko.
Ortiz, nicknamed “The Technician,” does not carry the commercial or financial appeal that fighters like Tank Davis, Ryan Garcia, or Devin Haney possess, but he is a quality fighter.
While Ortiz, helmed by OG sage Jimmy Burchfield, only recently moved up to junior welterweight last year, a UD win over Antonio Moran, he came into that fight following a competitive loss to Lomachenko in 2022.
Many believed that Ortiz would lose that fight convincingly, but he did enough in that fight to convince fans that he can hang with the elite.
Ortiz is a spiritual man with a very mature outlook on life. In a time where sports figures are constantly in the news for negative reasons, Ortiz holds himself to different standards.
His last time out, Ortiz did not look his best self. Perhaps it was the layoff, or maybe it was the fact that he found a nearby park in Corpus Christi, the location of his last fight, to play some pickup basketball, whatever the reason, Ortiz was not satisfied with his performance.
Happy to get the rounds in, Ortiz tried to see the positive in things and thought that he could possibly lure in a big fight with someone judging him purely off his last performance.
This is the kind of individual Ortiz is—very strong mentally with a foundation of principles that help shape his decision making and focus to prepare.
The best version of him is the most prepared version. He does not train in a typical fashion, and he utilizes conditioning sports like swimming and basketball to prepare.
It is interesting to hear Ortiz explain the need for competition within the training process. It is clear that he puts a lot of consideration into the moves he makes and standing on business is his primary motivation.
Still, distractions exist everywhere and Ortiz knows that he is at his best when the competition is raised.
“I step up to the level of competition, the better the competition the better I perform,” Ortiz told NYFights.“When my level of competition rises, I rise with it.”
Ortiz was calling for a fight with Shakur Stevenson before he landed this huge opportunity against Teo, and he was preparing himself for a major opportunity because he believed it was coming.
“My relationship with God, I get my morals and values from Him. I got to stay on the straight path to be an example for everyone watching me. My daughter is always watching me and I got to stay ten-toes-down. At the end of the day, I’m on this Earth and God put me in this position to have fans, and I want to be a light in this sport.”
Ortiz has no time for nonsense, and his desire to be a role model for his daughter helps keep him grounded. But he also has an amazing team behind him dedicated to his success.
Ortiz also has major connections to big wigs in other sporting leagues, one of his closest confidants owns an AFL franchise, so he is aware of the moment in front of him and what could come of it.
Ortiz does not brag about his tough upbringing and all of the potential trouble that surrounded him.
Instead, he realizes the pride in himself comes from not succumbing to that life and making something of himself despite it.
He is a traditional man in a very non-traditional time.
“I strive to be one of the best role models in the sport by staying true to myself. It isn’t pressure, but I do have a responsibility to be the best man I can be to show [young boys] what it means to be a man. Soon enough, God willing, I’ll be able to inspire.”
Teofimo and Ortiz are very different in the public eye, and context is everything.
Ortiz had to grow up fast, and that maturity provides a path to enlightenment, which is one of the keys to success.
Jamaine Ortiz Has Come From A Hard Place
His mother was sentenced to time in prison the very same year his father passed, and the young fighter spent a lot of time alone.
For Ortiz, it isn’t about how many rounds or laps he’s done in preparation for Teo, it is about everything he has done and not done to be in this position, and that helps him to not undervalue his shot like many in the past that have been in those shoes.
Ortiz is a sound fighter with solid amateur experience. In fact, Ortiz and Lopez met in the ammys and that makes this fight feel like God’s plan.
“Yes, [this fight with Teo] is destiny. Not only facing Teofimo again, but just the way the path has been paved for me. It’s only a matter of time.”
As far as being overlooked by Lopez, Ortiz is not concerned at all about whether his opponent is prepared because he is preparing for the best version of Teo. Still, you have to wonder how much focus the Lopez camp has given other fighters in his lead up to this title defense.
“I don’t focus much on him. I don’t listen to interviews of him, so I’m unaware [of what he’s saying]. I just know I’m focused on my task at all times, and that is beating Teofimo.”
Ortiz heads into this fight against Teo with a full understanding of the assignment and what he needs to do to achieve his goal. He has studied the things Teo does right and plans to exploit the things he does wrong.
Ortiz will need to frustrate Teo and let him make the mistakes.
Ortiz has the confidence and the patience to wait for his moment, and this could vex Teo early enough in the fight that the script ends up in favor of Ortiz.
The fight will be interesting and could play out in several different ways depending on Teo’s pace and Ortiz’s game plan.
The prelims start at 7pm et with the main card set to start at 10:30pm et. Both fighters weighed in at 139.6lbs at yesterday’s weigh-in.