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Give him the hook: Vergil Ortiz Jr. stops Maurice Hooker in seven rounds

Written By | Mar 21, 2021
Vergil Ortiz Jr. (left) worked behind a vicious body attack to wear down Maurice Hooker in seven rounds. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing Vergil Ortiz Jr. stops

Vergil Ortiz Jr. (left) worked behind a vicious body attack to wear down Maurice Hooker in seven rounds. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 20, 2021 – Another veteran test, another test passed for rising welterweight talent Vergil Ortiz Jr. Saturday. In front of a Fort Worth crowd cheering him on, Ortiz Jr. (20-0, 20 KOs) stopped former world champion Maurice Hooker of Dallas (27-2-3, 19 KOs) by seventh-round TKO. Ortiz Jr. maintains his perfect record without going past the seventh round.

With Terence Crawford, his stablemate Jemel Herring, and Errol Spence Jr. looking on ringside, 22-year-old Ortiz Jr. and Hooker delivered an entertaining all-action fight. It wasn’t the best game plan for Hooker, who could have prevailed in rounds by staying behind his long jab. Instead, Ortiz Jr. drew Hooker into his kind of fight, willing to eat a few shots to deliver damage. The two threw 155 punches in the first round, and the fight progressed from that point.

Vergil Ortiz Jr. drew Maurice Hooker into more of a battle than Hooker preferred. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing Vergil Ortiz Jr. stops

Vergil Ortiz Jr. drew Maurice Hooker into more of a battle than Hooker preferred. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

Ortiz Jr. invested in the body after his headshots weren’t giving him the results he wanted from the tough Hooker. Hooker caught Ortiz Jr. several times coming in, and his face showed the results after the fight. Ortiz Jr. also avoided punches showing good upper body movement along with his offense.

Ortiz Jr. began finding angles and stepping into position to place his shots, digging to the body before following with uppercuts and hooks. When Oritz Jr. could pin Hooker to the ropes, he took maximum advantage of it. After the third round, trainer Brian McIntyre told Hooker not to play Ortiz Jr.’s game.




Hooker had a solid round four, keeping Ortiz Jr. at a distance with his jab. But it made Hooker a little too brave, and Ortiz Jr. began getting closer, landing an uppercut. As Hooker reacted, Ortiz Jr. landed the left hook to the body, and as Hooker covered up, Ortiz blasted away. McIntyre implored Hooker not to let Ortiz Jr. bang on him.

Hooker was still a live opponent, but his chance of staying in the fight was fading fast. Ortiz Jr. kept drilling Hooker while dodging countershots. Ortiz Jr.stepped in with a left uppercut in the sixth round, followed by a hard right hand, and dropped a dazed Hooker. He managed to get up, and there wasn’t time in the round for Ortiz Jr. to close the show.

Hooker made one last stand in the seventh coming right at Oritz Jr. Another right hand landed, while Hooker’s counterpunch caught Ortiz Jr. at the top of the head, and he winced in pain, taking a knee. Referee Laurence Cole waved off the fight due to the combination of the body shot and the injured hand at 36 seconds of the round.

Ortiz Jr. “I knew what to do”

Vergil Ortiz Jr. celebrates his win with his fans in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing Vergil Ortiz Jr. stops

Vergil Ortiz Jr. celebrates his win with his fans in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

Ortiz Jr. wins the WBA International Welterweight strap. “I wanted to thank him for giving me this opportunity,” said Ortiz Jr. of Hooker. “He didn’t have to take this fight. I give him props.”

Ortiz Jr. felt he put on a “pretty good” performance but said there’s always room for improvement. “Overall, I think I did OK. He was showing me he was durable, he can definitely take a punch. He was smart, he was trying to get around my guard. But I knew what to do.”

Ortiz Jr. said the game plan was to slow Hooker down. He said he thought he might go the 12-round distance for the first time in his career. “The headshots weren’t hurting him at all. He can take a punch, I’m not going to lie. That’s why I started going to the body,” explained Ortiz Jr.

Hooker said it was a good fight. “I had to get through the storm the first three rounds. But he’s a good fighter, man.  He’s young, up and coming.” I take my hat off to him. Everyone in Dallas won,” Hooker said his hand popped, and he couldn’t continue.

Vergil Ortiz Jr. thirsting for a Bud?

Ortiz Jr. says the win gives him even more confidence. He wasn’t exactly lacking coming into the fight. Saying he was ready for a title fight, but knowing Crawford and Spence Jr. were looking on, Ortiz Jr. said, “I’m respectful, I’m not going to call anyone a bum. I don’t have anything else to say. I do all my talking in the ring.”

A smiling Crawford approached the ring and got Ortiz Jr.’s attention, who admitted he would love to fight Crawford. “Crawford is possibly the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world, definitely number two. I’m looking at you, Bud. I don’t care if I’m ready or not. I want that fight.”

When asked whether Ortiz Jr. was ready, Crawford’s stablemate Hooker said, “There’s levels to this. I’ve been in with the best. He’s good, but he’s not ready, man. He’s got to keep fighting and build himself up. He’ll be world champion someday.”



Hooker is right. There’s no need to rush Ortiz Jr. He can build a following beyond his solid fan base in Texas. They’d welcome seeing him again against an offense-oriented performer like the crowd pleasuring Marcelino Lopez of Argentina, who won his undercard fight.

But it’s truly time for people to consider Ortiz Jr. among the top talent in the competitive welterweight division. It might be a little early for Crawford to be a dance partner right away for Ortiz Jr.., but you can bet he’s penciled in on the dance card down the line.

Seniesa Estrada delivers super win over Anabel Ortiz

Seniesa Estrada (right) had too much power and speed for reigning champion Anabel Ortiz. Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

Seniesa Estrada (right) had too much power and speed for reigning champion Anabel Ortiz. Photo: TSye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

Seniesa Estrada of East Los Angeles (20-0, 8 KOs) pounded veteran champion Anabel Ortiz of Mexico (31-4, 4 KOs) for ten blistering rounds to win the WBA World Minimumweight Title by unanimous decision. Scores were 100-89 X 2 and 99-90.

Estrada is the fighter people who think they don’t like women’s boxing should watch. She put on a power punching clinic. Her speed and power left Ortiz with little other than counterpunching and a superb chin. By the fifth round, Ortiz’s face showed accumulated damage. Estrada continued to pour it on, not assuming anything from the judges.

“I implemented the game plan exactly as I was supposed to, drop her,” said Estrada. “There were certain punches I was trying to set up, that (right hand) was one of them.

“She was the reigning champion for seven years and defended her title 12 times. It’s my time,” Estrada said. “I knew she was durable. She hasn’t been stopped. She comes to fight. She comes in great condition.”

Estrada is a walking billboard for three-minute rounds in women’s professional boxing. She dropped Ortiz with a hard right in the second round but couldn’t finish her off with just 30 seconds left.

Ortiz, age 34, turned professional at age 20 and has carried the banner for women’s professional boxing. It was a changing of the guard fight, but Ortiz is still a viable competitor against most opponents other than Estrada. Estrada said she’d like to unify titles at 105 pounds, then 108 pounds, and then win a title at 112 pounds where a potential rematch with Marlen Esparza lies. If Estrada can accomplish this, she can be the female counterpart to the great Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaraguan.

Marcelino Lopez aces the audition against Jairo Lopez

Jairo Lopez took everything he could but didn’t last past five rounds against Marcelino Lopez. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

Super lightweight Marcelino Nicolas Lopez of Buenos Aires (37-2-1, 22 KOs) and Jairo Lopez of Mexico (27-12, 18 KOs) put on the all-action fight we expected, and then some. The pair blasted away, with the Argentinean having the upper hand but the Mexican refusing to yield. Marcelino Lopez scored a second-round knockdown on a check hook, and a second knockdown was called a push and slip. It made no difference in the end, as Marcelino Lopez put Jairo Lopez on the canvas for a third and final time at 1:24 of Round 5. If Lopez was auditioning as a potential opponent for Vergil Ortiz Jr., he nailed it.

Kalkreuth cruises to a first-round knockout

Tristan Kalkreuth continues to impress with a first-round KO win. Photo: Sye Williams / Golden Boy Boxing

Cruiserweight Tristan Kalkreuth of Duncanville, Texas (8-0, 6 KOs) didn’t give his Texas fans much of a look. He crushed former kickboxer Dustin Long of Johnson City, Tennessee. (4-2-2, 4 KOs) in just under half of the first round. Kalkrueth said he intended to go some rounds and work on his jab, but when the opportunity presented itself, he took Long out, pinning him to the corner and ending a barrage with an excellent left hook to the body. Long needed transport to an area hospital as a result.

“I pray for his recovery. It’s good to handle my business, but I pray he has a quick recovery,” said Kalkreuth after the fight.

“I thought he was going to pressure, put a little bit of pressure, a little more fight. He knocked out (Deontay) Wilder’s brother,” said Kalkrueth. “Once I touched him with my jab, he felt my power.” At just 19 years old, Kalkrueth says he’s starting to hit a little harder. His plan ahead? “I need to stay humble and focused. I’m focused on 10-0 and taking fight after fight, eight rounders, ten rounders.”

Promoter Oscar De La Hoya likes what he saw. “I saw a world champion in the making. He’s a good kid. He’s a fighter that has everything. All he has to do is continue training, and everything else will fall in place. The game plan is to step him up as fast as possible.” At 6-foot-4, Kalkrueth sees himself excelling at cruiserweight, then stepping up to heavyweight in the same vein as Evander Holyfield.

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 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.