LAS VEGAS – Not much separated Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz on Saturday night, literally and figuratively.
The former welterweight champions provided sustained action for most of the first four rounds, before their 10-round welterweight bout devolved into a clinch-fest neither fighter took much initiative to win. The judges favored Guerrero, who won a unanimous decision on the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas undercard at T-Mobile Arena.
Judges Tim Cheatham, Glenn Feldman and David Sutherland all scored the fight the same, 96-94.
The 38-year-old Guerrero (37-6-1, 20 KOs), of Gilroy, California, has won four straight fights since then-unbeaten Omar Figueroa brutally stopped in the third round of their July 2017 bout. The 34-year-old Ortiz (32-7-3, 25 KOs) fought for the first time in 3½ years in this battle of left-handed former WBC 147-pound champions who lost to Floyd Mayweather.
With the outcome of their mostly mundane match seemingly up for grabs, neither Guerrero nor Ortiz fought with any sense of urgency during the 10th round. The exhausted ex-champions again spent more time jostling for position than punching during those final three minutes.
Fans booed again toward the end of an uneventful ninth round, which mirrored many of the previous rounds that lacked action.
Guerrero and Ortiz mostly missed with their punches in the first half of the eighth round. Restless fans began to boo during the final 30 seconds of yet another unremarkable round.
Ortiz and Guerrero again struggled during the seventh round to land clean punches on each other.
Severe swelling developed around Guerrero’s left eye during a sixth round in which they clinched more than they punched. Following an uneventful fourth round, Ortiz and Guerrero traded short shots inside and wrestled for position for much of the fifth round.
Ortiz landed a left hand on the inside with about 1:35 to go in the third round. He also kept Guerrero from landing clean punches for most of that third round, though Ortiz sustained a cut from a clash of heads in that round.
Guerrero rocked Ortiz with a left hand early in the second round, but Ortiz fired back. Ortiz trapped Guerrero in a corner 1:15 into the second round and unloaded head and body shots before Guerrero got out of that vulnerable position.
Ortiz and Guerrero traded and wrestled on the inside during an entertaining final 35 seconds of that second round. Guerrero blasted Ortiz with a left uppercut during that sequence.
Guerrero stung Ortiz with a left hand that forced Ortiz to hold him with just under 1:20 to go in the first round. A straight left hand by Guerrero moved Ortiz backward with just over 30 seconds to go in the first round.
Ortiz fought for the first time since his maligned majority draw with Devon Alexander in February 2018.
Many fans and FOX’s broadcasters considered Alexander the winner, but none of the judges scored that 12-rounder for the former junior welterweight and welterweight champion.
Judge Don Griffin scored it for Ortiz, 115-113. The two other judges, Glen Rick Crocker and Levi Martinez, had it even (114-114).
Ortiz was arrested in September 2018 and charged with three felony counts related to an alleged sexual assault. Ortiz maintained his innocence throughout that ordeal, fought the case in court and the charges were dropped last December.
The dismissal of those charges enabled Ortiz to resume his career.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.