LOS ANGELES – Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions features a stable of stars headlined by the likes of former world champions Jaime Munguia and Gilberto Ramirez as well as undefeated upstarts Ryan Garcia and Vergil Ortiz Jr. 

From the quartet, the welterweight contender with the most difficult path to landing a world title shot appears to be the 23-year-old Ortiz. 

Ortiz's last two fights have come against former world titlist Maurice Hooker and former world title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas. The next one was tabbed to be against Michael McKinson on March 19 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles - but earlier this week Ortiz was forced to withdraw with illness.

The 147-pound belts are currently tied up by the likes of Errol Spence Jr. (WBC, IBF) Terence Crawford (WBO) and Yordenis Ugas (WBA).

Spence and Ugas should bring more clarity to the world title picture in the division once they meet in a unification bout on April 16. 

The WBC and WBO have Ortiz ranked as the No. 1 contender, while the WBA and IBF both have the 23-year-old ranked in the top four. 

De La Hoya believes he will have to push Ortiz’s issue through a sanctioning body, much like others successfully have in recent months, chiefly when the WBO ordered a fight between Shawn Porter and Crawford in November, and the upcoming Tyson Fury fight against WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte. 

“Oh yeah, absolutely. The belts are tied up. Vergil is the No. 1 in the WBC,” De La Hoya told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “I have to start beating the drum basically and force Vergil down their throats. That’s exactly the way we have to pursue the path to getting the world title. It has to be forced. Vergil will fight anybody. 

“The warning that I send to all fighters in the welterweight division is that the longer you wait, the worse it will get for you when fighting Vergil Ortiz. Meaning, he’s going to gain more experience, more power, more knowledge, and it’s not going to be nice for anyone else. I encourage any fighter out there in the welterweight division to talk to your promoter and manager and let these fights happen.” 

De La Hoya and Ortiz are both equally excited about the idea of fighting Spence in an all-Texas showdown at the AT&T Center, home of the Dallas Cowboys. 

“I remember I was promoting Canelo [Alvarez in 2016] in Dallas and Vergil Ortiz told [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones, ‘I’m going to be the next guy who fills up that stadium.’ I can envision an Errol Spence versus Vergil Ortiz fight in Dallas in a mega event. The plans are right on track. We are on time to fulfill Vergil’s dreams of becoming world champion. It’s going to be a little complicated because nobody is going to fight. The more they wait, the worse it’s going to be. He’s only getting better. It’s exciting times for his career, and we have big plans for him.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.