SAN DIEGO, Calif., August 9, 2019 – Readers have been advised many times to keep an eye on prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. of Grand Prairie, Texas. Ortiz Jr. has been quietly mowing down opponents on the undercard of major Golden Boy Promotions cards. But too many people have missed out getting another beer from the refrigerator or hanging out in the VIP lounge.
On Saturday, Ortiz Jr. will be front and center in the main event of a card in his Texas hometown on DAZN. The undefeated knockout artist (13-0, 13 KOs) will test himself against opponent Antonio Orozco of San Diego (28-1, 17 KOs), It will be Ortiz Jr.’s second fight at welterweight, and Orozco’s first. The first will air on DAZN from the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, starting with televised undercards at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
On the Canelo vs. Jacobs undercard in May, Ortiz Jr. made quick work of veteran Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, the first time Herrera had ever been stopped. In March, Orozco won his last fight in March, a shutout unanimous decision coming after his first career loss to junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez. Despite the loss, Orozco earned respect for his determination to stay in the fight and hear the final bell on his feet. Given Ramirez’s impressive knockout win over Maurice Hooker two weeks ago, Orozco’s performance rates higher in retrospect.
Now the two collide in the ring with their conflicting ambitions, knowing the winner getting the spoils of a title fight opportunity.
Ortiz Jr.: ‘I’m not going to let him do it’
Believe it now if you didn’t before. Ortiz Jr. possesses freaky power at age 21. He is a crowd-pleasing knockout artist who is only going to grow stronger. But he’s never stood in front of someone as relentlessly determined as Orozco, who’s never been stopped in 29 pro fights.
Despite knowing he’s heavily favored to beat Orozco, Ortiz Jr. refuses to think of himself this way. “When I go I the ring, I go I thinking I’m the underdog. I go in like that in every single fight. Anthony Joshua did that, and look what happened to him,” said Ortiz Jr.
Never mind that Ortiz Jr. has knocked out every single opponent to date, and never had to go past the fifth round. “I always think that, because it’s going to happen, this guy is going to come knock me out. It’s simple. I’m not going to let him do it. It’s easier to fight that way. It’s like when you’re running, when you’re in second place it’s easier to want to catch up to the guy,” explains Ortiz Jr. “It’s going to be a classic Mexican war.”
Orozco: ‘I have to take the fight to him’
Orozco agrees. “I have to stay close to him. From his fights that I’ve seen, he’s a very explosive puncher. I can’t let him set up his punches. I have to take the fight to him. We’re going to find out where he’s at,” said Orozco. “It’s my only way of fighting, it’s the style I know best. It’s going to be close. We’re just going to have to be more intelligent, know what we’re doing, be a little bit more patient.”
Orozco’s toughest opponent used to be the scale as he tried to remain at 140 pounds. Having moved to welterweight, he can focus on craft instead. After training briefly with Freddie Roach, Orozco returned home to San Diego to train with Carlos Barragan Jr. at The House of Boxing in National City, California.
“I think it’s a good time I move up in weight, it seems more natural. I am 32 years old, I think I’ve got my man body,” laughed Orozco. “It does take off some stress getting down to the final weeks before the fight. I’m working more comfortable and being able to push myself more.“
Orozco said the loss to Jose Ramirez provided some valuable lessons which can help him on Saturday. “It just shows you exactly what a person is made of, inside and out … It was coming face to face with adversity, and overcoming. I didn’t walk out of there with a world title around my waist, but the respect that I walked out of there with, even from the fans in Fresno, I did walk out with that. That’s something they can’t take away from me.
“Fights like that pretty much open up your eyes exactly about the right moment to be attacking during the fight, being busy, being smart. I needed a fight like that. You need a fight like that to be ready for a fight like this. That’s what boxing’s all about. That’s what people want to see,” said Orozco.
Ortiz vs Orozco prediction: Raw power will prevail
Orozco will need to stand up to Ortiz Jr.’s power shots, while waging his own war of attrition. He’s capable of a knockout punch, but he doesn’t have the raw power of Ortiz Jr. If Orozco can crowd the younger man, work to the body and wear him down without taking punishment of his own, the fight could be a barnburner.
But when you are one-punch KO capable, you have a weapon hard to defuse. Orozco should take Ortiz Jr. into deeper waters, but the veteran may have to settle for another moral victory. Ortiz Jr. is the best prospect in the Golden Boy stable. Nevertheless, we’ll add this caveat: 2019 has been the Year of the Upset.
Ortiz vs Orozco undercard bouts features Texas talents
Joining Ortiz Jr. on the DAZN televised card are two stablemates at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside also from Texas.
Bantamweight contender Joshua Franco of San Antonio (15-1-1, 7 KOs) will face Oscar Negrete of Colombia (18-2-1, 7 KOs) in a ten round fight. The pair have already fought twice, once to a draw and once to a narrow spilt decision that went to Franco. They are eager to settle the score.
Another San Antonio native, unbeaten lightweight Hector Tanajara (17-0, 5 KOs) faces Ezequiel Aviles of Mexico (16-3-3, 6 KOs). Tanajara has been quietly going about his business on Southern California regional cards. The 22-year-old has beaten solid opponents includig Ivan Delgado, and Edgar Guitierrez, who turned around to score a major upset win over “Rocky” Hernandez last month. He looks better in every fight.
Ortiz Jr. says boxing talent from Texas is emerging from obscurity, but it’s always been there. “Me, Hector and Josh have always grown up around that talent … We just never got that exposure. Boxing isn’t big in Texas, it’s always football, the Cowboys, Mavericks and Spurs. So they want to cover other sports. But the talent has been there in boxing. We just needed some help. We’re going to help build that path.”
All fighters made weight on Friday.
Oritz vs. Orozco airs Saturday, August 10 on DAZN from the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas, starting with televised undercards at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2019 by Falcon Valley Group