Top lightweight contender Jamaine "The Technician" Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) returns to the ring this Friday to face battle-tested veteran Antonio Moran (29-5-1, 20 KOs). The bout takes place at the American Bank Center and will be televised live on ESPN+.
The 27-year-old makes his first appearance of 2023 after an injury caused him to miss weight in June, forcing the cancellation of a bout that was to take place at Madison Square Garden on the Josh Taylor – Teofimo Lopez undercard.
"I feel confident making weight," emphasized Ortiz about any doubts that he’ll make the contract limit of 138 lbs. "I hired another nutritionist, but the weight issue in June had more to do with an injury and not being able to work out the same way than it had to do with weight."
In addition to hiring a nutritionist, Ortiz moved his training camp from his native Worcester to Las Vegas.
"I have less distractions training in Vegas than when I’m training in Worcester," explained Ortiz of the move. "The intensity of the sparring is a little different too."
Ortiz also took the step of completing a pre-training camp in Dubai, where he’s been spending more time of late.
"It was random," says Ortiz about his initial decision to visit Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. "I enjoy traveling and taking advantage of some leisure time between fights to see the world. I just decided to pack my bags and go there. The Eastern part of the world is very different from the Western part. It gave me a whole different perspective. I liked Dubai a lot and decided to train there for a while before coming to Vegas."
Ortiz believes that these changes will lead to an impressive performance against Antonio Moran, who has faced the likes of undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and top junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza, Jr. However, Ortiz feels that he is the one coming into this fight with an edge in experience, especially considering that his last 6 opponents sport a combined record of 102-13-2.
"He’s a good fighter with decent power," says Ortiz of Moran, who is a 35-fight veteran with 20 knockouts in 29 wins. "He almost has twice as many fights as me, but over the last year I’ve been in the ring with 2 former world champions, one of which is probably a sure shot hall-of-famer."
Indeed, Ortiz burst on to the scene in 2022, when he won a 10-round unanimous decision over former WBO Super Featherweight champion Jamel Herring and gave future hall-of-famer Vasyl Lomachenko a tough fight in a 12-round decision loss. Ortiz learned a lot from these experiences, particularly in the fight against "The Matrix".
"Lomachenko sets things up well and picks up the pace towards the end of each round," says Ortiz of his first 12-round fight against the former multi-division champion. "I would love to avenge that loss. I definitely learned how to pace myself, how to finish strong, and how important it is to win those championship rounds."
While Ortiz is disappointed that he dropped a close decision to Lomachenko, it gave him an opportunity to gauge his performance against that of undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney, who won a highly debated decision over Lomachenko in May.
"I felt like my fight was a lot closer than Devin’s," says Ortiz. "I felt like I landed a lot cleaner shots in my fight against Loma, and Devin Haney got hit a little too much in their fight. Loma landed a few clean shots on me towards the end of our fight, but he never landed flurries or threw 5 and 6 punch combinations the way he did against Haney. He would only throw one or two punches at a time against me because he was wary of what I was throwing back."
Antonio Moran will be the second straight opponent that Ortiz faces who has also shared the ring with Haney. When Moran faced Haney in 2019, he was knocked out in spectacular fashion by "The Dream" in round 7. Ortiz, however, is not interested in trying to one-up Devin.
"Styles make fights, so I don’t try to outshine anybody else," explains Ortiz. "I just compete with myself. I’m going to put on a great show, come out victorious, and be the best version of myself on Friday."