Danny Garcia

Vergil Ortiz Jr. Has Few Moves Left

Vergil Ortiz Jr. Tom Hogan
Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy
Undefeated Welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr beat up veteran Samuel Vargas over seven rounds for the outcome of fight No. 16 to match his first 15

Dallas, Texas’ 22-year old undefeated Welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr stopped his 16th straight opponent. In the main event of Golden Boy Promotions‘ return event, which streamed Friday, July 24, Ortiz punished Samuel Vargas.

Vargas’ grit pushed Ortiz beyond the sixth round for the first time. However, in the seventh round the WBA Gold champion’s fully flowing arsenal flummoxed Vargas (31-6-2, 14 KOs) who seemed defenseless most of the three minutes. At one point Vargas, 31, tackled the young power puncher.

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The move staved off referee Jack Reiss stopping the fight, but only up until a second before the bell. After watching the Canadian-based vet take power shots at the end of a few rounds, Reiss decided enough was enough.

In the post fight interview, Ortiz (16-0, 16 KOs) expressed his interest in facing the likes of former champions Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia. He reiterated his desire to face fellow Dallas resident Errol Spence Jr – the division’s unified champion.

Those opponents sound audacious, but truth is, that’s the trajectory the boxer-puncher is on moving forward. The KO streak is legit. And, his last seven opponents had an average of 28 wins. He is an important part of Golden Boy Promotions’ future plans, but Oscar De La Hoya and staff have a history of not being risk-averse.

The reward was significantly greater back in 2013, but Golden Boy agreed to match a 23-year old Saul “Canelo” Alvarez against Floyd Mayweather – then boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.

Ortiz Short List of Options

The WBC and WBO currently rank Ortiz as the No. 8 and No. 2, respectively. So, targeting the aforementioned former champions Thurman (WBC No. 5) and Garcia (WBO No. 2) are both logical moves. They’re both tough bouts against fighters with several championship rounds, but Ortiz isn’t a young fighter with glaring flaws. Most importantly, both fight under the Premier Boxing Champions banner so completing a deal is an obvious roadblock.

Boxing and the sports world is not out the woods with the Covid-19 pandemic. So prior to a bout versus a former titleholder, Golden Boy can take a look at a bout versus Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Yordenis Ugas, Ray Robinson, Custio Clayton or even Shawn Porter. PBC is heavily represented in the division, but there are a couple of alternative routes. An in-house option for Golden Boy is undefeated Rashidi Ellis, but that fight arguably doesn’t make sense right now.

In the WBA, challenges exist such as Alexander Besputin, Abel Ramos, veteran David Avanesyan and the sturdy Radzhab Butaev. Jamal James has a PBC date coming up soon, but he’s also a Top 10-ranked fighter.

Working out a fight with one of these opponents likely get us to early-2021 where a strong look could be taken at any of PBC’s big names without belts. If Ortiz was successful in one of any of those match-ups, later in the year he would be positioned for his first bid at a title with either Errol Spence Jr or WBO champion Terence Crawford. The bad news is Spence and Crawford could conceivably be in serious talks for one of the sport’s best showdowns.

Conclusion

Golden Boy is bullish about the immediate future of their star in the making. Ortiz, himself, wants the big fights. His promotional affiliation confounds the division’s ongoing power struggle between PBC and Top Rank. But, with much of PBC’s talent being stories in which fans are familiar with, if and once Spence-Crawford happens, boxing could benefit from the emergence of a young force in its preeminent division.

Ortiz’ talent won’t allow him to remain on the verge of Welterweight’s upper echelon. He’s one of the young lions fans can expect to fully merge himself into the championship picture over the next 16-18 months.

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