Vergil Ortiz Jr. will be fighting in Fresno, California, for the first time on April 27, but, given his recent statements, it seems that it won’t be his last.

Ortiz (20-0, 20 KOs) will face Thomas Dulorme (26-6-1, 17 KOs) at the Save Mart Center in Fresno in a card to be broadcast live on DAZN.

Although Ortiz is from Grand Prairie, Texas, he has spent many of his training camps in Southern California. In November, he reunited with Robert Garcia at his boxing academy in Riverside, California, after splitting amicably from the trainer in late 2021.

And yet there’s something about the small-town feel of Fresno that seems to have resonated with Ortiz. At a pre-fight press conference, Ortiz sipped a beverage from Kuppa Joy – a local staple – and drew knowing nods of approval from Fresnan fans when he made mention of it. Managed by Fresno’s own Rick Mirigian, Ortiz has been bullish on performing in the Golden State city that behaves like a small town.

“I grew to love this city,” Ortiz said. “This is the only city in California I would move to. … I am really excited to be fighting for the first time in Fresno. I spent some time here during my recovery, and I absolutely loved it here.”

At the presser, Ortiz discussed his admiration for Jose Ramirez, his now-training and sparring partner who will headline the upcoming Fresno show. Ortiz unabashedly stated that Ramirez, who has helped develop the local boxing market, was his favorite fighter even before he met him.

But Ortiz also recalled a story about sparring with Ramirez, who, at the time, he thought was Josesito Lopez – an anecdote that got a chuckle from the crowd. Ortiz, a dynamic fighter and gifted musician, can now add charismatic storyteller to his resume.

Ortiz went on to describe what the Dulorme fight means to him: 

"Being the co-main event to Ramirez is an honor,” he said. “We sparred each other at the beginning of my career. I know I am close to a world championship fight, and hopefully that will happen this year.”

Ortiz, who sat out 16 months (mostly due to health issues) after stopping Michael McKinson in a July 2022 welterweight bout, returned in January as a junior middleweight to take out Fredrick Lawson inside a round. Ortiz is now the No. 1 contender for the WBA 154-pound title currently held by Israil Madrimov

For Ortiz, the hope is that a win over Dulorme will be enough to yield a title fight in his next outing. With an impressive showing, a Madrimov matchup could be on deck.

“I really want to fight the best,” Ortiz said, “and hopefully you will see more of me this year – hopefully a world champion.”