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By hook or crook: Vergil Ortiz Jr. faces Maurice Hooker Saturday, DAZN

Written By | Mar 19, 2021
Vergil Ortiz Jr. faces test after test with ease. His latest challenge comes on Saturday against former champion Maurice Hooker. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

Vergil Ortiz Jr. faces test after test with ease. His latest challenge comes on Saturday against former champion Maurice Hooker. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 19, 2021 – Veteran Mauricio Herrera came in two years ago as the toughest test of young welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s career. Ortiz Jr. stopped him for the first time in his long career. He did the same with ease to Antonio Orozco, Bradd Solomon, and Samuel Vargas.

So forgive boxing writers if previews of the next fight for the native of Grand Prairie, Texas (16-0, 16 KOs) give you a sense of déjà vu. Ortiz Jr. faces former super lightweight champion and fellow Texan Maurice Hooker of Dallas (27-1-3, 19 KOs) at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday. The fight card airs on DAZN, starting with the undercard bouts at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.

Hooker weighed in at 147 pounds even; Ortiz Jr. initially came in at 147.6 pounds, but made it to the 147 limit within the allowed hour. Ortiz Jr. said his own scale showed him at weight prior to the weigh-in. All ends well, and no fainting involved.

The 22-year-old Ortiz Jr. has passed every test with ease. While his flashy Golden Boy Boxing stablemate Ryan Garcia gets more attention, hardcore boxing fans believe Ortiz Jr.’s potential in the ring surpasses Garcia. If you don’t believe me, believe Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., who both plan to be ringside to watch the youngster who’d like to challenge them both someday, and someday is soon where Ortiz Jr. is concerned.




Vergil Oritz Jr. consistently and insistently pushes promoter Oscar De La Hoya to put him against tougher competition.

Ortiz Jr., who is trained by Robert Garcia assisted by his father, Vergil Sr., continues to build confidence in his skills, and he’s willing to test himself. “I want to fight the best. The only way to be the best is to fight the best. I feel very confident. I have the confidence of my promoter and team behind me. I had a great camp, and I am ready to go,” said Ortiz Jr.

“We will find out on Saturday if my power and size will be too much for him. I have never been in the ring with him before, so I don’t know how he will take it. But it’s not just power with me. It’s not just my physical attributes. My best attribute is my thinking ability, and I’m going to do a lot of that on Saturday.”

Hooker originally hoped to remain at super lightweight after his loss to Jose Ramirez to face Regis Prograis, but as he neared 30 years old, he couldn’t make the 140-pound limit. This will be only his second fight at welterweight. His first was in December 2019 against Uriel Perez on the Jacobs vs. Chavez Jr. undercard.

Maurice Hooker used his reach and power against Jose Ramirez during their bout Saturday, but couldn't convert it to a win. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Maurice Hooker used his reach and power against Jose Ramirez during their bout. He needs to do the same against Vergil Ortiz Jr. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

“This fight will mean everything to me,” said Hooker.” I’m happy to be back at home where fans at home can see me. And it’s great to give to the fans something special after all they have been going through.

“I have been watching Vergil Ortiz for a while now. I have been supporting him since he started because he is from Dallas. His 16-0 with 16 knockouts don’t mean nothing to me until we get in the ring. I mean, it’s cute, but we will see in the ring.”

Golden Boy chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya has nearly as much confidence in Ortiz Jr’s potential as his young fighter does. “Everyone is saying that he is the next big thing in the welterweight division. And he is. But first, he has to get past Maurice Hooker, and that is no easy test. This is a real fight and a tough test for him. If he beats him, then he is going straight to the top of the division, where are lots of big fights to make,” said De La Hoya.

Ortiz Jr. is known for his serious approach and work ethic. He didn’t miss a day in the gym despite the pandemic. He’s an old-school gym rat who enjoys the training process, and it keeps him sharp. Hooker has a legitimate resume to put up against Ortiz Jr., but he’s also been out of the ring a long time, and he’s not as settled in at welterweight as Ortiz Jr. It’s close to a make or break fight for Hooker. It fuels some fighters, but it rattles others. You can’t have a shred of doubt or hesitate for a second in front of Ortiz Jr.

Oscar De La Hoya says he wouldn't face Vergil Ortiz Jr. if he was Terence Crawford. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos Vc

Promoter Oscar De La Hoya says he wouldn’t face Vergil Ortiz Jr. if he was Terence Crawford. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos

De La Hoya acknowledges having conservations with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum about making a fight between Ortiz Jr. and Bud Crawford. With Crawford present Saturday, will fans get an announcement if Ortiz Jr. makes a good showing against Hooker? It’s probably a little too early. But Crawford needs a dance partner. Ortiz Jr. insists he’s ready for the big names, and he can back up the talk Saturday. There’s little risk for Ortiz Jr. A competitive loss against Crawford could play out the same as the loss to Floyd Mayweather by Ortiz Jr.’s former stablemate Canelo Alvarez. At age 22, it’s a learning experience and more exposure to the general boxing fanbase than in Ortiz Jr.’s fights to date.

Prediction: Does Vergil Ortiz Jr. pass another test?

Vergil Ortiz Jr. has passed every test put in front of him. Will he do the same against Maurice Hooker? Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

It’s time for fans to take Ortiz Jr. as seriously as the top names in the welterweight division who play to get an up-close look at the young Texan for themselves before they face him in the ring someday.

“This is going to be one of the first fights in Dallas between two world-class natives of the area. We are going to put on a really great show. I’m really excited about it. We’ve trained really hard, and I hope you all enjoy the show,” said Ortiz Jr.




“I’m excited. My team is excited,” said Hooker. “I’ve worked hard. The fact that I’ve been called the underdog has pushed me more. I’ve prepared well for this fight. I’m going to go in the ring, do my business, and have fun with it.”

There may be more charismatic fighters, but among the hot young boxing stars under 25, few share so many assets with Ortiz Jr., including strength, speed, ring IQ, work ethic, temperament, and the willingness to keep learning. When Ortiz Jr. says matter-of-factly, “I’m going to be the best in boxing one day,” you believe him.

Hooker has a significant reach advantage and plenty of pop in his punches. He needs to overcome ring rust, and he needs to stay off the ropes where he is vulnerable. To compete with Ortiz Jr., you’ve got to be at your best. De La Hoya hopes Hooker will force Ortiz Jr. to put in some rounds. The Golden Boy is going to be disappointed, but when Ortiz Jr. stops Hooker in the middle rounds, he’ll try to console himself with a marquee matchup for his young star later this year.

Co-main features women’s title fight: Ortiz vs. Estrada

Veteran champion Anabel Ortiz and Seniesa "Super Bad" Estrada battle in the co-main event. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy boxing

Veteran champion Anabel Ortiz and Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada battle in the co-main event. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy boxing

The co-main event features two minimumweight fighters who pack plenty of power per pound. Seniesa Estrada of East Los Angeles (19-0, 8 KOs) takes on veteran champion Anabel Ortiz of Mexico (31-3, 4 KOs), who defends her WBA World Minimumweight Title for the 13th time. No relation to Vergil Ortiz, Jr.

“Women’s boxing is on the rise and here to stay,” said De La Hoya. “Seniesa has a goal of becoming the greatest, the best. She comes from East LA like me. Anabel is coming here for the first time from Mexico City, which is a dream come true for her. Both fighters will give it their all.”

Estrada scored a stunning seven-second knockout over overwhelmed Miranda Adkins in her last fight in July. While she got some heat for it, it wasn’t Estrada’s fault she did what she gets paid to do. Estrada called out Ortiz after the win, and the fight got made.

“This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl, fighting on a huge platform with the world watching. It couldn’t get any better,” said Estrada.

Seniesa Estrada believes women professional boxers would score more knockouts if they could fight three minute rounds instead of two minute rounds, drawing more people to watch the women pros. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing Vergil Ortiz Jr. faces

Seniesa Estrada believes women professional boxers would score more knockouts if they could fight three-minute rounds instead of two-minute rounds, drawing more people to watch the women pros. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

Ortiz, age 34, turned professional at age 20 and has carried the banner for women’s professional boxing. But she’s up against a powerhouse package in Estrada. She’s scored six stoppages in seven fights, and the seventh was her bloody battle against Marlen Esparza, which was stopped due to the cut caused by an accidental headbutt. Few women have a knockout ratio anywhere close to 50%. Estrada continues to improve, and the women should deliver a barn burner with just two minutes per round to get their work done.

Undercard fights on Saturday’s card:

Tristan "Sweet T" Kalkrueth is a promising young cruiserweight who's likely to tackle the heavyweight division someday. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing Vergil Ortiz Jr. faces

Tristan “Sweet T” Kalkrueth is a promising young cruiserweight who’s likely to tackle the heavyweight division someday. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

Super lightweight Luis Alberto Hernandez Ramos of Chihuahua, Mexico (21-0, 19 KOs) Alex Martin of Chicago (15-3, 6 KOs) for a minor WBC belt. Martin won a majority decision In 2020 over Angel Fierro, which is more impressive now after Fierro’s spectacular knockout win over Alberto Machado Thursday night.

Super lightweight Marcelino Nicolas Lopez of Buenos Aires (36-2-1, 21 KOs) and Jairo Lopez of Mexico (27-11, 18 KOs) are sure to deliver an all-action fight for fans.

Rising local stars fill out the rest of the undercard.

Super lightweight George Rincon of Dallas (10-0, 7 KOs) faces Luis Solis of Mexico (25-11-4, 21 KOs).

Super bantamweight Hector Valdez of Dallas (13-0, 8 KOs) vs. Alberto Torres (11-3-3, 4 KOs) of Sacramento, California. Valdez, age 22, has solid offense behind a good right hook, and he can continue to work on the rest of his craft while his offense takes care of the basics.

Cruiserweight Tristan Kalkreuth of Duncanville, Texas (7-0, 5 KOs) vs. Dustin Long (4-1-2, 4 KOs) of Johnson City, Tennessee. Kalkrueth is 19 years old; Long is 38 years old and truly old enough to be the young Texan’s father. He is a former Ultimate Fighting competitor, so this should provide some entertainment. Kalkrueth is an engaging personality who looks more like a lab rat than a gym rat outside the ring. Golden Boy is taking its time building the young cruiserweight’s career.

*****

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.  Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

 

 

 

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.