Mitchell gets best of Ortiz

Takoma Park fighter wins on all 3 cards

November 14, 1999|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- At Friday's pre-fight weigh-in, World Boxing Association super lightweight champ Sharmba Mitchell got a "good-luck" hug from welterweight champion Felix Trinidad.

The Takoma Park resident's luck held up last night at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, as the 29-year-old Mitchell defended his crown for the sixth straight time and got his 15th consecutive victory by unanimous decision over Venezuela's third-ranked contender, Elio "Chingo" Ortiz (18-4, 14 knockouts).

Mitchell survived a sixth-round head-butt that produced a laceration over his right eye that is expected to require 30 stitches.

Mitchell floored the challenger in the first round and won, 119-109, 118-108 and 114-12, against Ortiz, who had won 12 of his previous 13 bouts, including 10 by knockout.

The decision kept Mitchell (46-2, 29 KOs) on pace for his goal to unify the title with either Russia's World Boxing Council champ, Kostya Tyzu, or International Boxing Federation title-holder Tierron Millet.

After that, Mitchell has said he would like to move up in class to 147 pounds (welterweight), where he could earn an encounter with Trinidad under less friendly terms, or pursue bouts against Oscar De La Hoya, or unbeaten "Sugar" Shane Mosley and Vernon Forrest.

"I was surprised I was able to knock him down, but I wasn't looking for a knockout. If it came, it came," said Mitchell. "I was a little worried later on when the blood started dripping in my eye and I couldn't see."

Mitchell's TVKO pay-per-view fight was part of an undercard on the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis main event, a rematch of their controversial 12-round draw on March 13 at Madison Square Garden.

Holyfield (36-3-1) is the reigning IBF and WBA heavyweight champ, and Lewis (34-1-1) is the WBC champ.

A clear winner would unify the title for the first time since Riddick Bowe in 1992.

Ortiz tried to intimidate Mitchell even before the pre-fight introductions.

Mitchell had barely left his dressing room and entered the ring before Ortiz ran over and stood in his face.

The strategy appeared to have backfired only seconds into the first round, however, as a jabbing Mitchell -- a southpaw -- floored the challenger with a lightning-quick straight left hand.

Mitchell landed several hard shots that reddened Ortiz's face, with a similar display taking place in Rounds 8 and 9, but he was unable to finish the game challenger.

Over the next six rounds, Mitchell easily beat Ortiz to the punch to win exchanges in the middle of the ring.

A frustrated Ortiz tried to rough up Mitchell during clinches, but a third-round change in strategy had Mitchell on his toes, boxing more and inflicting damage to Ortiz.

Mitchell was able to move in and out behind his right jab, occasionally forcing Ortiz to the ropes and coming over the top with either hand.

A straight-left, right-hook combination wobbled Ortiz near the end of the fifth round.

Mitchell similarly won the sixth round, although slowed by an unintentional butt that caused a welt under his right eye and referee Richard Steele to briefly halt the bout to have it checked by a ringside physician.

Meanwhile, a Lewis victory would leave the United States without a world boxing heavyweight champion for the first time since 1969, when Ingemar Johansson of Sweden won the crown from America's Floyd Patterson. Lewis is England's first champ since Bob Fitzsimmons in the 1800s.

Winning rematches is nothing new for Holyfield, who always has been a survivor.

Just 12 fights into his career, Holyfield decisioned veteran Dwight Qawi, and in a rematch, knocked him out in four rounds.

In his last rematch, Holyfield knocked out Mike Tyson in 11 rounds the first time they fought, then frustrated him the second time into twice biting his ears and being disqualified.

Critics of Lewis argue that it all came to easily for him, that he did not face enough obstacles to be a world champion.

The WBC title Bowe trashed was subsequently awarded to Lewis, who then was granted a whopping $9 million for his lackluster first title defense, a 12-round decision over Tony Tucker.

Lewis got $7 million each for knockouts of Frank Bruno and Phil Jackson, respectively, and got $4 million for being knocked out in two rounds in only his third defense against Oliver McCall.

The first of the four title fights on the Lewis-Holyfield undercard ended in an upset as WBA lightweight champ Stefano Zoff (29-7-2, 11 KOs) of Italy was stopped by Venezuela's No. 1 contender, Gilbert Serrano (18-4-2), at 31 seconds of the 10th round.

The knockout, a result of cuts sustained by Zoff over his swollen right eye, was the 16th for Serrano, 29, who was in the first title fight of a career that began in early April 1993.

After being backed up and losing the first four rounds, Zoff was bleeding badly from his eye.

But the game champion, in his first defense and in quest of an eighth straight victory, began a fifth-round comeback that lasted through the eighth.

But Serrano regained momentum in the ninth, stunning Zoff with a powerful overhand right.

It appeared to be a night of upsets, beginning with an earlier eight-round bout where Mexico's unheralded Gustavo Andrade (9-11, 2 KOs) scored a unanimous decision over Andy Tabanas (36-4-1) of the Philippines.

Andrade didn't even arrive in Las Vegas until yesterday morning for his fight with Tabanas, who entered the bout as the World Boxing Organization's No. 1 contender, and the WBC's No. 2 contender.

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