The road hasn't been easy in recent years for Victor Ortiz who, at age 28, is looking to put his career back together.
Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, TexasWhen: SaturdayTV: PBC on NBC and NBC Sports Net, 8:30 p.m. ET
Ortiz (30-5-2, 23 KOs), who has crossed over outside of the ring with acting roles and a spot on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars," snapped a three-fight losing streak last December when he stopped Manuel Perez in three rounds. But he broke his wrist late in the fight and hasn't returned since.
On Saturday, the former welterweight titlist will make his return against late replacement Gilberto Sanchez Leon (33-13-2, 13 KOs), 34, of Mexico, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The Premier Boxing Champions card (NBC/NBC Sports Net, 8:30 p.m. ET) is headlined by junior welterweights Omar Figueroa against former lightweight titleholder Antonio DeMarco.
Ortiz recently spoke with ESPN.com about his comeback:
How excited are you to get back into the ring after a one-year layoff?
I'm very excited. It's interesting to me. I was very eager to get back in the ring but couldn't due to my wrist. It wasn't like I wasn't trying to or wasn't like I was really ever planning to stay away that long. But man, if I could have done it any sooner, I would have. They gave me an option of whether I wanted to fight this year or wait until next and I just wanted to be back. I have been in training camp where I helped Diego Magdaleno get ready for his fight. While I was there helping him I said, 'Screw this.' So I went and called my management and asked them to get me into the ring. Here we are, thankfully.
How much did the full year away do to recharge your batteries mentally?
You know what? Maybe. Possibly. I just think that it depends on the fighter and the person. I always have had a goal to be something significant in boxing and I'm not there yet. People have counted me out. And if that's you than good for you. I'm that Tom Brady that nobody wants to see succeed in boxing. That's how it goes.
You have long been a target of critics. How much have you been able to use it as motivation to keep chasing your dreams?
You know what? I stay away from all of the media and social stuff that goes on about me because they don't know me. No one knows me but myself. I am my own worst critic. I am my own worst enemy. I am my own worst person. If I sit there and I listen to people, the negativity and how ignorant some people can be, why do I need to waste my time on that? I'm just going to go with the flow in my life and live it how I want to live it, when I want to live it and do what I want and how I please. At this point in time, I don't have to box ever again if I don't want. But the thing is, it's not what I'm about. I'm here because I've been put here for a reason. Boxing is what has made me. Yeah, I've had some ups and some down, but at the end of the day, it's about me and what I want and what I want to do. And boxing is definitely what I want to be and what I want to do. I even took two projects in movies and put them aside just to fight.
You have been close to the very top of the sport in the past, securing fights against the likes of Andre Berto and Floyd Mayweather. How do you get back to that place again?
It's just a matter of time. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be up with the elite level once again. I travel on. I believe it's just a matter of time.
Considering how deep the pool of welterweights is under the PBC banner, which fighter are you looking to end up facing above all others?
We will need to stay tuned, won't we?
Well I'll tell you what the people want VO. The people want Ortiz-Berto II.
I don't think Berto wants any of me but I'm up for that.
Do you look back at your first meeting with him from 2011 with fond memories considering how action-packed it was?
Yeah, man, it was a great fight. Berto and I put up one of greatest fights in the history of boxing in easily the last decade. He's one hell of a fighter. If the people want it, than why not?
What were your thoughts on Berto getting the fight in September against Mayweather?
You know what? I didn't watch the fight, man. Ughh ... I have my thoughts on it but I would rather not even share.
You've talked in the past about your issues with Mayweather. Do you still believe the two of you have unfinished business?
Oh, absolutely. I think the world knows that Floyd and I have unfinished business. Floyd knows. He's no dummy. He knows what's up.
You mentioned the pair of movie roles you put aside for this next fight. Will we see you again on the big screen?
I highly doubt it, man. I don't really want to be in the acting industry just yet. I'm 28 years old man. I'm taking advantage of my prime. I'm going all-in.
You've lent your name to business ventures in the past, including your FaceLube skincare line. What else have you been working on outside of boxing while away?
There are projects but they don't even make sense to talk about right now. But, yes, absolutely I do. As I'm sure a lot of other boxers and business people do, as well.
In your absence, the PBC has taken off behind Haymon's vision of getting fighters back on network TV. What's your reaction to coming back into a new business model?
I'll be honest with you. I have not seen it. I don't know, man. I have not paid attention to boxing or anything with that. So I don't know what's going on with the media. I've heard a lot about this PBC thing. I just know Al Haymon has a lot to do with it. But I don't know. I don't pay attention.
How active as a fighter do you want to be in 2016?
How many fights do you believe it would take for you to return to the title picture?
I'm sure one or two. I definitely don't want to do the whole thing like when I was coming up in the pro game where I fought five times a year. Each time when December kicked around I was like, 'Jeez, I've been in training camp for 11 months.'' I don't want to do that again.
What are you looking to accomplish in this fight?
My No. 1 goal this fight is just to be victorious. From there, whatever Al Haymon has in mind and Sam Watson, I will not not agree. You know?
Can we expect the same fan-friendly fighting style from you, despite your recent defeats?
Well, I will have to tune you guys in on Saturday. But not a lot changes for me, you know that. It's usually the same old wars and the same old action-packed fights.
What kind of goals do you still have for your career?
I want to be one of the greatest. Muhammad Ali.