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Jayla Ortix - by Chris Cozzone
© Copyrighted photo taken by Chris Cozzone
New Mexico Boxing


5'3" bantamweight/featherweight Jayla Ortiz was born on June 29, 1978.  She graduated from Capital High School in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1997. She had excelled as a guard in basketball, and also played softball, soccer and ran cross country. She began boxing in her sophomore year and amassed an amateur records of 12-1. She says that her boxing helped to keep her away from gangs and alcohol as a teenager.

A natural southpaw, she was originally trained to fight with a standard stance and can now switch hands easily to confuse her opponents.

Jayla began boxing professionally after graduating, in between taking classes at Santa Fe Community College and a semester at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. 

She made her pro debut on October 4, 1997 at the State Fair Pavilion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, weighing in at 115 lbs and TKO'ing fellow debut fighter Merlinda Tafoya (111 lbs)  of Albuquerque at 1:13 in the second round of a scheduled four-rounder.

A rematch with Tafoya (113 lbs) at the Lujan Building in Albuqerque on December 5, 1997 produced the identical result, as Jayla (114 lbs) won by TKO at 1:59 in the second.  (This was apparently enough boxing for Tafoya, who didn't fight again.)

On January 24, 1998 at the Sweeney Convention Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico: Jayla (117 lbs) won a first-round TKO over Angelica Villian (130 lbs) of El Paso, Texas, who fell to 0-2.

At Arizona Charlie's in Las Vegas on February 6, 1998, Valory Troike (115½ lbs) of Las Vegas moved her record to 4-0 with a six-round unanimous decision over Jayla, who weighed in at 117 lbs.

On March 12, 1998 at the Sweeney Convention Center in Santa Fe, Brenda Burnside (119 lbs) of Albuquerque, New Mexico won a four-round split decision over Jayla (122 lbs).  This was Burnside's first pro win and oved her record to 1-4.

On June 19, 1998 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jayla (117 lbs) fought Paula Faye (119 lbs) of San Diego to a four-round draw.

On July 18, 1998 at Arizona Charlie's in Las Vegas, Jayla weighed in at 121 lbs and fought Copitzi Mendivil (119 lbs) of Culiacan, Mexico to a six-round majority draw. Mendivil moved to 5-2-1 with 4 KO's.

On August 15, 1998 at Arizona Charlie's in Las Vegas: Sonya Emery (120 lbs) of Austin, Texas, won a unanimous (60-54 x 3) six-round decision over Jayla, who weighed in at 119 lbs.

On September 11, 1998 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey: Canadian amateur star Kathy Williams (113 lbs) of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada easily defeated Jayla (117 lbs) by unanimous decision over six rounds in a fight seen live on ESPN. Williams moved to 2-0, but had extensive international amateur experience. Ortiz was outskilled and outreached in this fight and spent much of it gamely to trying to negate Kathy's advantages and hold on to her whenever she got hurt. Jayla fell to 3-4-2 with the loss ... and Kathy commented afterwards that Jayla must be tough because her own hands hurt after the fight like never before!

On October 17, 1998, at Arizona Charlie's in Las Vegas, Nevada, Brenda Burnside (118½ lbs) of Albuquerque and Jayla (118½ lbs) battled to a six-round draw in a rematch of their fight in Santa Fe the previous March.

On November 13, 1998 in Indio, California, Jayla won a six-round unanimous decision over Copitzi Mendivil of Mexico.

On December 18, 1998 in Indio, California, Jayla won a five-round split decision over Angela Ramirez of El Paso, Texas, who fell to 2-1.

On February 6, 1999 in Cathedral City, California: JoJo Wyman (121 lbs) of Woodland Hills, California won her own pro debut with a five-round unanimous decision over Jayla.

She was set to fight Canadian veteran Nora Daigle (5-2-1) on March 12, 1999 at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau in Montréal, Quebec, Canada but had to cancel when she broke her hand during training.

During the summer, she began working with Santa Fe trainer Al Lavato, who had known her since she was a kid. Ortiz decided to stay out of school for a year and give her boxing another shot. She began training with Lavato in September and took a job with the City of Santa Fe Parks and Recreation Department where Lavato works. Lavato has worked on Jayla's movement. "She didn't know what to do if she got into trouble," he says. She also hit the weight room.

Lavato was impressed by Jayla's work ethic as she prepares for bouts. "This gal has more guts than the men that I have here", he says "She works hard. The guys complain 'I'm sore, I'm tired', but Jayla's always ready to go."

On November 6, 1999, in Albuquerque, New Mexico: Jayla returned to action at 114 lbs and moved to 6-4-3 with a six-round decision over Albuquerque's Adriana Delgado (114 lbs) who fell to 2-1. This fight was a six-round drubbing that left Delgado bloodied and battered with a broken nose. Delgado said "I never had it in my head that she would move around so much. So it caught me off guard. I wasn’t training to fight someone who would move around so much."  Ortiz said "I have the feeling back in boxing like when I was younger, when I was an amateur, I feel like I have more confidence. I feel like I know what I'm doing now. I have more confidence that if I get in trouble, I can move."

On March 18, 2000,  Jayla (118 lbs) headlined a six-fight card on her own home turf against Tucson's Leilani Salazar (117 lbs) at Santa Fe's new Genoveva Chavez Community Center. Ortiz won a split-decision thriller over eight rounds in a bout that was lengthened from the originally scheduled six when a bout was canceled on the undercard. Ortiz taunted Salazar as the Arizonan stalked her throughout the fight and they got into some fierce exchanges when Ortiz was cornered, which weren't part of Ortiz's plan. The first three rounds were uneventful but both fighters opened up in the fourth. Ortiz landed a big left to Salazar's head midway through the round and they went toe to toe the rest of the way, even after the bell! Salazar got the better of the action in the sixth when Ortiz walked into a quick combination in the later part of the round. Salazar's strong combination punching continued to give Ortiz trouble through the seventh but Jayla landed some good shots in the final seconds. It was anyone's fight going into the eighth. Ortiz scored a solid left-right but Salazar kept after her. The final 10 seconds were wild as Ortiz took a shot to the face with her back against the ropes but fought back fiercely to chase her opponent to the opposite corner.

Judge Jim Bagshaw scored it 78-77 for Salazar. Levi Martinez had it 77-75 and Anita Aragon a surprising 78-74, both for Ortiz. Salazar said she thought it was a hometown decision, adding "I guess in order to win in their own back yard you gotta knock 'em out." Ortiz admitted to local press that she was a little nervous when the judges' scorecards were being read, but she was sure she had won.

"I thought (Salazar) was pretty tough," said trainer Lavato. "I'm glad we were able to give the people their money's worth".

Jayla was scheduled to fight Wendy Rodriguez in June 3, 2000 at the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but the bout was called off on the day of the fight when a dispute about the weight requirement could not be resolved. Rodriguez had weighed in at 109½ lbs and Ortiz just over 115 lbs on the day before. Apparently Rodriguez had been told that the fight was scheduled for 113 lbs but Ortiz believed it was set for 115 lbs. Ortiz lost a pound in a steam room on Friday night but Rodriguez' team stipulated that Ortiz not weigh above 118 at fight time. Ortiz reportedly weighed 121 lbs by Saturday morning so the bout was canceled.

Ortiz vs. Mendivil in July 2000
© Copyrighted photo taken by Chris Cozzone

On July 1, 2000 at Ohkay Casino Dome in San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, Ortiz won an eight-round majority (76-76,78-74,77-75) decision in a rematch with Copitzi Mendivil of Guamuchil, México, who dropped to 7-6-2 (4 KO's). Ortiz hurt Mendivil with three left hooks at the end of the fourth round and Mendivil's right cheek was swollen in the fifth, but the Mexican boxer hung tough until the final bell. Ortiz went head-hunting from a crouch position but was unable to fully penetrate Mendivil's defense. "I wish I would have done a little more," Ortiz said after the fight. Coach Al Lavato would like to see Ortiz get more work. "She hadn't fought since March 18," he said. "We had that fight canceled last month. That threw us back a month. We need to do more fighting, she should be busier."

On August 12, 2000 at Ohkay Casino Dome in San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, Ortiz won a six-round (58-57,58-57,58-56) decision over Delia Gonzalez of Chamberino, New Mexico in an exhibition bout that will not go into either fighter's official record. Gonzalez accepted the fight on that condition because she filled in at the last minute (evening of August 11th!). Ortiz used her movement to frustrate the more experienced and aggressive Gonzalez (10-5-3).

On October 14, 2000 at Genoveva Chavez Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jayla won a unanimous decision over Imelda Arias of Ciudad Juárez, México, whose record fell to 8-7. According to a report on New Mexico Boxing, Arias kept yelling at Ortiz to "quit running and fight!" as Ortiz controlled the fight with her speed and boxing ability, fighting from long distance.

On September 22, 2001 at Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jayla moved to 10-5-3 (3 KOs) with a six-round unanimous (59-54,60-55,58-56) decision over Monica Michel of Los Lunas, New Mexico, who was making her pro debut. IKF Amateur IR Southwest Women's Lightweight kickboxing champion Michel showed gutsiness by going six rounds in her pro boxing debut, and by trying to take the fight to the more experienced (and always elusive) Ortiz.

On September 21, 2002 at Pueblo Fairgrounds Events Center in Pueblo, Colarado, a scheduled bout for the WIBA Intercontinental 118 lb title between Jayla Ortiz and #4 ranked bantamweight Adriana Delgado of Albuquerque, New Mexico did not take place because Ortiz was arrested on her way into the arena (more info here).

Ortiz vs. Villareal in May 2004
© Copyrighted photo taken by Chris Cozzone

Jayla returned to action on May 15, 2004 at the Sky Ute Casino, in Ignacio, Colorado against tough Leanne Villareal of Albuquerque who battled her to a four-round majority (39-37 Ortiz,38-38,38-38) draw.  Villareal came to fight but wan't able to catch up and crowd the slick and elusive Ortiz until the third round.  In that round, Villareal succeeded in corralling Ortiz against the ropes and apparently dazed Jayla in one exchange. 

On July 17, 2004 again at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Jayla won a rematch with Leanne Villareal by a five-round unanimous decision.

Jayla Ortiz (left) vs. Jackie Chavez
© Copyrighted photo by Chris Cozzone

On November 20, 2004 at the Sky Ute Casino, in Ignacio, Colorado, Jackie Chavez (120 lbs) of Los Lunas, New Mexico won a 10-round unanimous (96-94,100-90,96-94) decision over Jayla (120 lbs) in the main event, to become the IFBA World Junior Featherweight champion. 

According to Chris Cozzone of New Mexico Boxing, the battle of the two world-rated contenders from New Mexico "wavered between tactical and explosive—and not without its share of controversy. The question of the night was whether Chavez would be able to chase down the ever-elusive Ortiz and let her have it; or whether the more experienced Ortiz would out-slick Chavez. The answer was ‘yes ’ and ‘yes,’ making a very close fight. The first round was tentative and fairly close, with Chavez ’s right hands on a par with Ortiz’s slightly busier counter-punching, until the closing moments when Chavez pinned Ortiz against the ropes and let loose with a volley of punches that gave her the round. Round Two could have gone either way, depending on whether you liked Ortiz’s quicker combos, albeit of the pitter-pat variety, or Chavez’s more authoritative right hands. Chavez, though, was still waiting too long and a couple right hands were not enough to give her the nod. In the 3rd, Chavez started to work, landing right hands more often and closing the round in explosive fashion by trapping her opponent in her own corner, unloading several power shots and forcing Ortiz to tie up until the bell. Chavez continued to pull ahead in the fourth, pressuring Ortiz who showed heart but spent the round on her bike. It looked as if the bigger, stronger Chavez was starting to dominate. But Ortiz turned the fight around in Rounds Five, Six and Seven. Chavez took the 5th off, letting Ortiz out-hustle her, and in the 6th and 7th, Ortiz simply counterpunched her way back into the fight, avoiding the less-busy Chavez’s right hands while dictating the pace by out-hustling. Chavez had a better round in the 10th but Ortiz was proving too slippery for her. Instead of applying pressure, Chavez simply let Ortiz control the action. With the 8th round 10-10, I had the fight dead even going into the ninth round. The ninth was, once again, very close but I thought Chavez eked the round out with her right hands—usually thrown in predictable three-punch combos—although Ortiz was showing grit by coming at Chavez with her own furious flurries. Chavez closed the show, however, finally taking the fight to Ortiz in a way that would’ve closed the show early if she’d done it this way from the start. At the end of ten, I had it 97-95 for Chavez."

"When I won I was shocked," said Chavez. “I felt Ortiz won some of the middle rounds and thought it was even before the last two rounds, but I was confident I’d won after the tenth. She was difficult to fight. She moved a lot and although I thought I hurt her a couple times, I couldn’t finish her off.” Ortiz complained about the scoring. “I gave the fight all I had and I know it was a close fight,” she said “But ‘100-90?’  C’mon! " Ortiz fell to 11-6-4 (3 KOs) with the loss

On February 15, 2005 at Alte Reithalle in Stuttgart, Germany, Silke Weickenmeier (125 lbs) of Stuttgart fought Jayla to a 10-round unanimous (98-93,99-93,98-92) decision, and retained her WIBF World Featherweight belt. A correspondent told me that "Ortiz showed Silke too much respect for six rounds before she started to connect with some success and drew blood."  Weickenmeier improved to 18-3-3 with the win.

On June 18, 2005 at the Win-River Casino in Redding, California, Jayla retired in the fourth round of a scheduled ten-rounder with Valanna McGee of Sacramento, California for the vacant GBU Junior Lightweight title.   Ortiz could not find the answers for McGee's jabs and hooks and was in trouble against the ropes in the opening round with Mcgee working her body.  McGee knocked Ortiz down with a left to the head in the second and rocked her with a right uppercut at the end of the third. McGee continued to dominate in the fourth after opening the round with a hard right to Jayla's chin, and the round ended with Ortiz in obvious trouble as McGee landed combinations almost at will. McGee improved to 9-2-0.

Like many of the experienced boxers in her weight class, Jayla has her eyes on a match with much-publicized Mia St. John. "Just for fun to beat her up", says Ortiz.

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Page last updated: Friday, 06 November 2015


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