Enjoy live boxing on FITE TV
11th May 2020
By: Michael Frank
Dedication, speed, power, and seven-time national champion are just a few words that describe Vergil Ortiz Jr. The 22-year-old out of Dallas, Texas was voted the 2019 prospect of the year by The Ring magazine. He is off to a blistering start as a professional, with a record of 15-0, knocking out all 15 opponents. Brutal early-round knockouts have become the norm for the 5’10” southpaw. Impressively, out of his last 6 fights, only Antonio Orozco made it past the 5th round. Vergil is currently the WBA Gold welterweight champion, a secondary title recognized by the World Boxing Association, and he’s only getting started.
Ortiz Jr.’s boxing career began at the age of 5, thanks to his hard-working father Vergil Ortiz Sr. His father was relentless when it came to pushing Jr. day after day. He saw something special in his son and was willing to make the sacrifices that would take Vergil to the next level. He would skip meals and even sold his Camaro for boxing equipment to help advance his son’s career. He would often drive 9-10 hours so Vergil could compete at National tournaments. The commitment he made proved to be an important characteristic that rubbed off on his son.
After spending hours training at local gyms and facilities, Vergil finally got the chance to be a part of an established gym. The Vivero Boxing gym in Oak Cliff is where he got that chance. Gene Vivero converted an auto repair shop into a gym that helps young boxers from the Dallas area learn the sport and stay out of trouble. Both Quincy Taylor and unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. began their careers training here. If you’re a young boxer from Dallas, this gym is the place to be. The perseverance that his father taught him was obvious- he would be the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. He would never skip tournaments and didn’t get into trouble at school or home. It was Ortiz Sr.’s sacrifices that helped pave the way for Vergil to be the man he is today.
The grit and hard work paid off when Ortiz Jr. won the 2013 Junior Olympics. His decorated amateur career also included seven national championships. He then landed a deal with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions at the age of 16. Vergil made his professional debut on July 30th, 2016 against Julio Rodas. He scored a first-round knockout at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in California, the first of many to come. His first four professional fights resulted in first-round knockout victories, and he began to turn heads with his brutal KO’s. His trainer at the time, Joel Diaz, helped him model his style after legends Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and promoter De La Hoya.
The fast start to his professional career was highlighted by 6 first-round knockouts within his first 8 fights. In his 9th fight, Ortiz won the vacant WBC-NABF super lightweight title over Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez with a 3rd round TKO. The next step in furthering his career was switching to Robert Garcia as his trainer. He began training at the renowned Boxing Academy in Riverside, California. At this point, he had the attention of trainers, fellow boxers and fans. He started to spar with some impressive names like Mikey Garcia, Jose Ramirez, Lucas Matthyse, Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios.
After rattling off three more easy wins within a year, Ortiz landed a fight on the Canelo vs Jacobs undercard against veteran Mauricio Herrera. After Herrera claimed he could go the distance and win, the speedster destroyed him with a wicked 3rd round knockout. It was the first time that journeyman Herrera had been stopped in regulation. Ortiz was starting to generate more and more popularity with his impressive knockouts.
His next two fights were against two other fighters who had never been knocked out, Antonio Orozco and Brad Soloman. The results were the same. In a hometown reunion for Vergil, he scored a 6th round KO victory over Orozco after dropping him 3 different times. The fight took place at The Theatre in Grand Praire, TX in front of his hometown fans for the first time. He did show some nerves and rawness in his skill set for the first time in his career. Next up was a 5th round TKO victory over Brad Soloman at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in California, the same location where his professional career began. He controlled the fight early on before dropping Soloman with a left-handed power jab in the 4th round. After smelling blood, Ortiz dominated and dropped Soloman two more times before the stoppage in round 5. Another knockout victory for the youngster.
Everyone should go watch film on this tenacious superstar in the making. His knockouts are savage, his speed is incredible, and he’s only getting stronger. He knows when he’s landed a knockout punch, often raising his hands in celebration immediately. He has good defence, blocking punches with his arms. If there was a concern in his game, it would be the lack of head movement in his defence. His punch rate is extremely fast, and so needs to be careful to not waste energy and watch how many unnecessary punches he throws when matching up against better or more experienced opponents. We haven’t seen him get past the 6th round, so it’s hard to tell if he has the stamina to make it the distance. What we do know is he has the power to knock out anyone he faces.
Before Covid-19 delayed boxing, Ortiz was set to face Samuel Vargas on March 27th. Once boxing resumes, this matchup should still be set to happen. Vergil’s dreams of fighting 3 times in 2020 are something of the past, but he’ll look to continue his dominant career as soon as he’s allowed to. He wants to be a champion and thinks he can accomplish that goal in the next two years. He has already come out and said he would love to fight fellow Dallasite Errol Spence but suggested he’s at least a year away from being ready. Whenever that time comes, the boxing world will be at attention.
Vergil Ortiz Jr. is a name that every boxing fan needs to know, he has the chance to become the next superstar and champion in the loaded welterweight division.