Photos: Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom
By Nat Gottlieb
On a night when Malik Scott seemed to think he was competing on “Dancing with the Stars,” the Philadelphia-based boxer managed to do something remarkable. No, he didn’t knock out the unbeaten Luis Ortiz. No, he didn’t beat him on the cards. Shockingly, by his survival style of faux boxing, Scott made the normally electrifying Cuban look boring.
Ortiz (26-0, 22 KOs), who was overwhelming predicted to take out Scott within three rounds, won every round but didn’t look particularly sharp in an unanimous decision victory over Scott (38-3-1, 13 KOs) at Salle des Étoiles in Monte Carlo on HBO’s Boxing After Dark. The scores were 120-105, 120-106, and 119-106 in what can only be called a snoozefest.
The 37-year-old Cuban was hoping to win impressively enough to land himself a title shot, but that chance will probably have to wait for another day and a better, more combative fighter in the ring with him.
This past Thursday, Scott, who seems to be more active on social media than he is in the ring, tweeted: “I believe Luis Ortiz is the best out there. He is a lion and I’ve got to tame that lion.”
Well, in order to tame the lion, you have to actually throw some punches. But Scott didn’t throw his first punch in the opening round until almost two minutes had passed. For the fight, CompuBox had him throwing a pitiful average of 13 punches per round, none of which remotely did any damage.
Some of the blame must go to Ortiz, too. For almost the entire fight the southpaw seemed intent on landing one big left hand to take Scott out. As a result, Ortiz, normally a punching machine, was not throwing many combos, and seemed to be pawing with his long jab, instead of trying to do any damage with it.
Another negative for the 6-foot-4 Cuban was having to face a fighter who seemed content to just go the distance. Further, Ortiz wasn’t able to find a strategy to cut off the ring and trap Scott. Ortiz’s corner implored him midway through the fight to change tactics, saying, “Don’t look for that home run! Corner him!” But their message fell on deaf ears.
Scott, who has never lived up to his amateur career hype, seemed to almost have a “rope-a-dope” fight plan, even dropping his hands at times to goad Ortiz to come at him. But the Cuban is no dope, and he remained patient, if not exciting, for the full 12 rounds.
Scott went down seven times, but the only three trips to the canvas that were counted as knockdowns by referee Jean-Robert Laine came in rounds four, five and nine. It was initially unclear why the other four weren’t counted.
Even more puzzling is why Ortiz failed to work Scott’s body, and why he only threw his usually devastating uppercut just twice, missing his elusive target both times. CompuBox had Ortiz connecting on close to 50 percent of his power shots, but they just didn’t seem to have their usual stinging effect. It certainly wasn’t due to Scott’s chin, which had betrayed him in his two previous losses, both knockouts.
Scott’s corner sounded delusional at times in its instructions to the fighter. After the eighth round, one of his corner men told him, “Pick up your hand speed, move your legs and your head! You’re right in this.”
After the fight, Ortiz said, "Malik was running around the ring and made it hard for me to fight.
Everybody comes to see a show and see someone fight and brawl. It made it hard for me.
I'm a little disappointed because I wanted to knock him out, but he was moving around and made it hard."
Where Ortiz goes from here is anybody’s guess, but it doesn’t appear his performance did much to earn him a title shot. As for Scott, his 12-round “No Mas” was a unanimous embarrassment and his days as a serious contender appear to be over. It’s likely that the talented but faint-hearted Scott will now be used as a gatekeeper for up-and-coming young heavyweight prospects.