Up-and-coming young boxer Rafael "Rafi" Ortega came to Oakdale to advance his boxing career. Originally from Montega, Rafi was shocked to see a familiar face--Lucy Montgomery. Rafi and Lucy had known each other in Montega, where Lucy's mother was President, and they quickly renewed their close bond. However, on the boxing front, Rafi was dismayed to learn that the contender, Aaron Snyder was no match for him. Angry that he was being "set up" to win, Rafi volunteered to help train Aaron so the fight would be more evenly matched. Unfortunately, Rafi's manager, Dominic Ramsey, had other ideas--he wanted Rafi to win at any cost. When Aaron learned from his manager, Dusty Donovan, that the fight was fixed, he went straight to Rafi who was furious. Although Dusty tried to warn the pair that it'd be safer to just go along with Dominic, both Aaron and Rafi decided it'd be a fair fight. Unfortunately, the night of the fight, Rafi made a horrible discovery--his gloves were weighed down. Although he tried to refuse to go along with the fight, Dom threatened that to do so would put Lucy’s life in peril. Fearing for Lucy's life, Rafi was forced to comply, and despite himself, he landed Aaron a near fatal blow to the head. As Aaron underwent emergency surgery to save his life, Rafi was arrested for using the weighted gloves and both Dusty and Dom were arrested for the illegal fight.
Luckily for Rafi, Dusty made a deal with the cops--he'd rat out Dom for immunity for himself and Rafi. However, Dusty knew that Dom wouldn't let his arrest go unpunished and was convinced that they were all in danger. He appeared to be correct when Lucy's father, Craig, went missing. Despite her mother's assurances that Craig was probably fine, Lucy was worried and asked Rafi's help in having her locate her dad. Unfortunately, Dusty was right again about the danger and Lucy and Rafi found themselves under attack by Dominic's men. Soon the pair found themselves stranded after the plane they were on crashed. Deathly afraid, Lucy turned to her friend for comfort and the pair made love. Luckily, the pair was rescued by Dusty and returned to Oakdale. Although Rafi professed his love for Lucy, she was uncertain about her feelings. Although he asked her to stay in Oakdale rather than leave for college, Lucy felt that she had to follow her dream to attend college and left. A few months later, after the sudden arrival of his kid sister, Rafael decided to seek his fortunes elsewhere.