With each win, rung by rung, Vergil Ortiz Jr. climbs further up the ladder to boxing’s big league.
In his latest outing, the 22-year-old Texan battered Samuel Vargas inside seven rounds last Thursday at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, CA.
His next opponent could be a former world titlist, according to Roberto Diaz, the matchmaker for Ortiz’s promoter Golden Boy.
“I’d like to see him now against a former world champion,” Diaz told The 3 Knockdown Rule. “One of those top names.”
Diaz wouldn’t give names, but Ortiz has made his preferences clear. After Thursday’s bout, Ortiz (16-16, 16 KOs) called out Danny Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) and Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs), both of whom are no longer titleholders but still very much at the top of the welterweight division. They may be a bridge too far for Ortiz at this point, but Diaz says his charge isn’t posturing. He really means it.
“Look, he called them out,” Diaz said. “He wants to fight the best. You know, for Vergil, it’s not being cocky or arrogant, like many others, ‘Oh I’ll fight him and him,’ you know, just to put a name out. He actually wants to compete, he wants to show the world, he wants to show himself. And if he can’t beat them, you know what, that’s how you make a great fighter. Before the end of the year he’ll be knocking very close on one of those doors.”
In the meantime, Diaz continues to be impressed by Ortiz’s development and noted some new wrinkles in the young fighter’s craft.
“I really really loved what I saw (against Vargas),” Diaz said. “Once he saw that Samuel Vargas wasn’t going to go out that easy, he took his time and he set it up and you saw it in the fifth round, he boxed a little more and he got his energy back to go in there and close it. He showed, even though he hasn’t gone the distance, he didn’t get sloppy, and he showed he could go the distance when the day comes.”
“Vergil Ortiz keeps doing and showing why he is on the verge of becoming a world champion and one of the best fighters in boxing,” Diaz added. “Obviously he’s still young and he’s still learning and still growing, but he’s on a faster track than many.”
One problem that Ortiz faces is that many of the top welterweights may be unavailable to him due to political standoffs between his promoter and Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champion, which controls not only Garcia and Thurman, but also the likes of Shawn Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs), Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KOs), and Yordenis Ugas (25-4, 12 KOs). Diaz understands this reality and noted the same situation exists for Golden Boy fighters Ronny Rios (32-3, 16 KOs) and Rashidi Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs). The only way to remedy this, he thinks, is to get their fighters into mandatory positions.
“Nobody’s going to be willing to fight them,” Diaz said. “We’re going to have to get them in a position where they are mandatories and the champion has no choice but to fight him or vacate.”