Two local fighters ended long layoffs from the ring with victories on Wednesday night in Connecticut.
Both Steven Ortiz (12-0-0 3KOs) and Victor Padilla (9-0-0 8 KOs) took to the ring for the first time this year and the first since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The undefeated fighters both had tough matchups put their spotless records in jeopardy while they shook off the ring rust.
Padilla was first up on the evening, taking on another local guy in Philadelphia’s Thomas Velasquez (10-1-1 6 KOs) who was previously unbeaten and came into the ring ready to go in their lightweight bout. He knocked Padilla down in the 1st. Padilla, who had never been down in his career, was able to pop back up and finished out the round. Padilla had a fight on his hands and Velasquez showed some excellent skills early on. Padilla’s power and speed were the clinching factors in the fight. Scheduled for 8 rounds, Padilla began really teeing off in the 5th. It was there he scored a knockdown of his own.
In the follow up he swarmed Velasquez and the referee had seen enough. Padilla was declared the winner by TKO at 1:56 of the 5th round. You can check out the final moments of the fight below.
Ortiz was on next in his own lightweight contest. He was taking on New Orleans-based Jeremey Hill (14-1-0 9 KOs) who had been active as recently as November. Ortiz last took to the ring in 2019, in an exciting all-action fight Alejandro Salinas back in September of 2019 at Parx Casino as the main event of Joe Hand’s Xcite Fight Night Series.
Ortiz was tested by Hill, who was a late replacement for Damon Allen. With Hill being the taller and longer fighter, Ortiz had to adjust his game. He’s been in training and had fights scheduled and canceled during his layoff, but nothing can replace being an active fighter. Ortiz had his ring rust moments but his talent was evident. He was sloppy at times, getting into a slugfest with Hill rather than using his jab. He also had two fouls in the form of a headbutt and a late shot. The moment of the fight may have been the between-round action delivered by trainer Raul “Chino” Rivas. His wake-up call to Ortiz before the 8th round was able to help Ortiz get his game back in order. The better fighter of the pair, Ortiz took a unanimous decision 77-75, 79-73, and 77-75 on the judge’s scorecards.
With Padilla and Ortiz back in business, the two Philly area lightweights are poised to move up the ranks and hopefully set up interesting bouts for this summer.