Promoter Oscar De La Hoya believes Vergil Ortiz Jr. will be plenty competitive at a higher weight class.
Ortiz, the highly regarded welterweight contender from Grand Prairie, Texas, is looking to rebound from a series of serious health issues in the past several years that have complicated his career.
The undefeated power puncher was supposed to fight fellow top contender Eimantas Stanionis earlier this year, but their bout was postponed three times, two of which stemmed from Ortiz’s repeated battle with rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening condition in which the breakdown of muscle can potentially inflict irreparable harm to the kidneys. Some have speculated that a combination of cutting weight and strenuous workouts might be the cause behind Ortiz’s battle with rhabdomyolysis.
Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) suffered from the same condition in 2022, ahead of his fight with England’s Michael McKinson. The two eventually fought in August of that year, with Ortiz winning by ninth-round stoppage. Ortiz has not fought since that time.
According to his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy, Ortiz could return to the ring in December. One thing appears to be for sure, Ortiz will fight at a higher weight class, although it is not clear if it will be at 154 or 160.
“Sure, ’54, ’60, whatever weight division he and his father feel strong and ready to go,” De La Hoya told FightHubTV. “We’re still nailing down the date for December, but that’s the plan. Early December, and get him that win so he can feel good and so he can get his mind right and so he can get back on top and get back on track. Health is—you have to take care of yourself and you have to put that first. We’ve taken the necessary steps to make sure that he is 100% come December.”
De La Hoya made it clear he has no answers regarding Ortiz’s medical condition,but he seemed confident that fighting at a higher weight class is a solution.
“I really don’t know,” De La Hoya said. “I’m not a doctor. I don’t know exactly what happened. All I know is that he’s a hard worker. He’s a gym rat….that’s what it takes to become a world champion. I don’t know exactly what happened. But we’re moving forward. He’ll fight at a different weight division and he’ll be back on top of the world.”
“If you haven’t seen Vergil in person, he’s a big kid,” De La Hoya continued. “He can easily carry the weight. It’s gonna be no problem. Plus he has punching power, like no other fight in that division, so 154, 160 is going to be no problem.
De La Hoya suggested that big fights could be in store for Ortiz at 154 and 160. The promoter named a slew of fighters, such as undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., but noted that many of the compelling fights he has in mind are with fighters (like Crawford and Spence) who are aligned with his sworn business rival, Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions. Crawford and Spence have both suggested they are keen on moving up to the 154-pound division sooner rather than later. Crawford and Spence are heading into a rematch later this year, but it is not clear exactly what weight class it will be contested at.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunities against Crawford, against Spence, against —I hate naming PBC fighters, because Al Haymon has them all protected, yeah, the likes of Crawford,” De La Hoya said. “You want to go after those top guys and Vergil’s gonna be waiting in line, waiting for that opportunity to become world champion.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.