VERGIL ORTIZ JR. WINS THE WBA GOLD WELTERWEIGHT TITLE, BUT EXPRESSES SOME DISMAY WITH HIS HOMETOWN OUTING
SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 2019 AT THE THEATRE IN GRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS AND STREAMED LIVE ON DAZN
Being perfect at anything in sports is a big deal. Usually after “perfect”, some degree of hype ensues.
Last night in Grand Prairie, Texas 21-year old undefeated knockout specialist Vergil Ortiz Jr. kept both his record perfect, as well as his streak of stopping the opponent in all of his fights. Ortiz abruptly stopped a determined Antonio Orozco in the sixth round after the third knockdown in that frame secured KO No. 14 in as many fights.
I’m going to be honest. I don’t like the way I did in the fight. – Vergil Ortiz Jr.
Orozco (28-2, 17 KOs) rebounded from a shaky sequence along the ropes in the first round to nicely reestablish his momentum and confidence in rounds 3-5. In fact, some of Orozco’s most effective punches in the fourth and fifth rounds left Ortiz with a bloody nose before the hometown fighter headed to the corner for the break.
After looking unable to establish any semblance of a rhythm for a couple rounds, Orozco opened the sixth frame with a seemingly renewed sense of urgency. The sudden change derailed the visiting Californian’s game plan, and a well-timed left uppercut quickly turned close-range to an off-limits zone for Orozco. The punch sent Orozco to a knee, and the power combined with Ortiz’ uptick in aggression portended that the 31-year old from San Diego might be in danger of being stopped for the first time in his career.
A pair of subsequent knockdowns that spanned less than a minute forced referee Mark Calo-oy to step in without a count and halt the fight at 2:16.
Now Golden Boy Promotions, and maybe DAZN’s commentators as well, can and most likely will run wild with Ortiz’s perfection – 14 KOs in 14 fights – but the young fighter’s own post fight comments might tamp down any efforts to talk him up.
“I’m going to be honest. I don’t like the way I did in the fight,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr. “I don’t even know how many rounds we went; that’s how into the fight I was, but the first three, four rounds, I could have done way better. I definitely have a long way as a boxer to reach that world champion status. But we’re going to keep making those improvements, and we’re going to learn from this fight. I’ve been getting all these KOs. I’ve been saying that they haven’t been getting in my head, but as you can see in that first round, I got a little excited. Maybe I could have ended it, maybe not, but I had to force myself to slow down, and I’m just going to learn from this fight.”
The performance still elevates Ortiz as a must-see rising talent in one of boxing’s premier divisions – especially coming in the wake of his destructive three-round victory over Mauricio Herrera in May. Ortiz’ unexpected self-evaluation did occur after the ideal ending for a fight, so his remarks won’t result in the short-term uncertainty that now surround Lightweight attraction Teofimo Lopez, and his next move, following his unanimous decision over Masayoshi Nakatani last month. In contrast, Ortiz likely faces another step up type foe, while Lopez’ first 12-round performance, which included a late Nakatani rally, came in an eliminator that secured him a bout with IBF champion Richard Commey.
There are several key positive takeaways for Ortiz. The win captured him the WBA Gold Welterweight title, marking a successful move up from Super Lightweight. He thrilled his hometown fans in Grand Prairie, and his aggressive hard-punching style easily lends itself to future dates at a any number of solid venues throughout the state of Texas. He withstood some effective moments from Orozco – who was also making his debut at 147-pounds – and experienced some different kinds of adversity in the win. And lastly, in addition to fighting in his hometown, he may have learned what might need be improved to maintain optimal focus on fight night in case a world title opportunity was to happen in nearby Dallas.
Ortiz’ honest assessment of himself was great to hear and see. He appears to be well-grounded, and the belief he publicly expressed in his Golden Boy team comes at a good moment for the organization and its roster. Ortiz never fully lost control of the fight, and Orozco’s moments of success were resoundingly overshadowed by the younger fighter’s ability to dig deep within himself to instantly change the complexion of a fight. With that attribute in place, all of the other necessary qualities of a world champion can be fine-tuned in time for the kid’s first title shot.
All photos by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos