Fredrick Lawson couldn’t have imagined a worse, and perhaps more unjust, outcome.
Lawson’s career was on the line in the main event of Saturday night’s Golden Boy Promotions card. The 34-year-old Ghanaian faced undefeated rising star Vergil Ortiz Jr. It was the kind of opportunity that has become few and far in between, the kind he desperately needed to take advantage of.
Instead, it was Lawson (30-4, 22 KOs) who was exploited. Lawson and Ortiz exchanged jabs for much of the first round, until Ortiz unleashed one that appeared to land behind Lawson’s ear and caused him to lose control of his legs.
Ortiz jumped all over Lawson, who was now covered up with his back to the ropes. Lawson fired a right in hopes of slowing Ortiz down and then proceeded to cover up, blocking and smothering much of the incoming.
Referee Tony Weeks saw something different, leaping in to stop the action to the dismay of Lawson and the Las Vegas crowd. Weeks’ decision robbed the 25-year-old Ortiz (20-0, 20 KOs) of the chance for a more definitive finish—if one was to be had.
“I don’t think it was a bad stoppage,” said Ortiz. “As a fan, you’re going to think so because you want to see the knockout and see the ugly stuff. As a fighter who knew it was going to come in the next few punches and I was going to find a way. [Tony Weeks] saved him from a bad knockout.
“I think that [Lawson] got saved. I was hurting him with all the jabs. I wasn’t really putting anything behind it. … I love to fight. I wish I could have kept going. I need the rounds.”
Ortiz has set his sights on hard-hitting IBF Super Welterweight World Champion Tim Tszyu of Australia, calling him out after the fight.
“I think you’re a hell of a fighter and let’s make this happen. … I want to fight the best,” Ortiz said of Tszyu. “I don’t fear anyway. I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. So, if we got to go to Australia, I’m down.”
So what’s next for Lawson? Golden Boy Promotions might give him another fight under their banner, given the unfairness of Saturday night’s outcome. If not, Lawson may have little else in the way of options. In a career filled with ups and downs, this may be the most disheartening fight of them all.