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Vergil Ortiz On Fighting The Best “Bring Them On”

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At a time when prospects and unbeaten fighters want to measure themselves against gatekeepers, Vergil Ortiz wants to measure himself against the best fighters at 147 pounds.

Manny Pacquiao? Terence Crawford? Fine by him.

“Bring them on.”

Before those fights happen, if they do, Ortiz must take care of business Saturday night, as he squares off against former world junior welterweight titleholder Maurice Hooker at the Dickeys Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).

Ortiz (16-0, 16 knockouts), who resides in nearby Grand Prairie, has impressed with each outing since turning pro in July 2016, defeating a former world titleholder, former world title challengers and contenders. In his last bout on July 24, Ortiz stopped Samuel Vargas in round 7 and in his previous fight in December 2019, Ortiz knocked out Brad Solomon.

The 22-year-old also has knockout victories over Antonio Orozco and Mauricio Herrera. 

Saturday will mark a significant step-up in opposition for Ortiz as he will face a former world titleholder at 140 pounds in Hooker that will have a height and reach advantage over him. Ortiz acknowledges the tough task at hand, but believes he is ready for the challenge.

“It is toughest test of my career,” Ortiz told Under the Hand Wraps in a recent phone interview. “I actually prepare all my fights that way. I don’t want anything unexpected to happen in all my fights.”

“It’s the fight I’ve always wanted. We reached out to (Matchroom Boxing Managing Director) Eddie Hearn since Hooker was at 140 pounds. He has a long reach and he’s tall. He comes straight forward. We prepared as best we could. There’s nothing too much to overthink in this fight.”

Vergil Ortiz Stops Solomon
Vergil Ortiz Stops Brad Solomon. Photo Lina Baker/ Under the Hand Wraps

Ortiz has impressed with his knockout power, but believes there is more to his game than just stopping his opponents. He has improved his skill-set by sparring the likes of former world titleholder Mikey Garcia, WBC/ WBO unified junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez, and unbeaten lightweight Hector Tanajara.

As talented as he has been thus far, Ortiz does not believe he has hit his peak yet as a fighter. 

“It’s a great confidence booster to be in there with world champions,” said Ortiz, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. “It’s a good feeling getting work in there. It’s a blessing, really. Being able to spar my favorite fighter Jose Ramirez is something else.

“I feel like I know who I am. I’m not a world champion yet, but if I were to retire today, I would not be satisfied with how my career went. I’m not there yet as a fighter. I believe I do have the skills to be the best. I haven’t proved anything yet as a fighter. That’s what gives me that drive and motivation.”

Garcia is currently trained by Robert Garcia in Riverside, California. Over the last couple of years, Ortiz has blossomed as a fighter under the tutelage of one of boxing’s best trainers.

Himself a former world titleholder, Garcia speaks highly of Ortiz’s ceiling and work ethic. It is those words of encouragement that give Ortiz more motivation to be the best. 

“It means a lot to me that he speaks highly of me,” said Ortiz, who is also trained by Hector Beltran and managed by Rick Mirigian. “His knowledge inside the ring is off the charts. He’s a successful boxing coach, but he also has success outside of it as well. He’s so knowledgeable and he gives me that confidence to go in the ring knowing what I’m capable of.”

Vergil Ortiz
Vergil Ortiz works the mitts with trainer Robert Garcia. Photo Lina Baker/ Under the Hand Wraps

In a recent interview on the ‘Pug and Copp’ podcast, Ortiz stated a fight between him and WBO welterweight titleholder is inevitable. While a fight against one of the top fighters of boxing is compelling, Crawford likely has fights down the line against contender and former world titleholder Shawn Porter. 

That does not mean a fight could happen down the line if Ortiz continues to win.

If a fight against Crawford does not happen, Ortiz is also eyeing a current world titleholder at 147 pounds. Ortiz holds out hope a fight could be made against WBA titleholder Manny Pacquiao. He only wishes to continue his goal of facing the best fighters in the welterweight division.

“If I had to choose, I would want to fight Manny Pacquiao. I’ve wanted to fight him. I know he’s retiring soon and he’s a legend in the sport. I just want to test my ability.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September 2012 and The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

About Francisco Salazar

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