One of boxing’s most electrifying, young knockout artists is set to return to the ring March 19.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that unbeaten welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. will meet Michael McKinson in a main event that night. The venue hasn’t been determined for the 12-round bout in which Ortiz (18-0, 18 KOs), of Grand Prairie, Texas, will square off against McKinson (21-0, 2 KOs), of Portsmouth, England.
Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN are expected to announce the Ortiz-McKinson card Friday, as well as a middleweight main event between Jaime Munguia and D’Mitrius Ballard that has been rescheduled for February 19. The venue for the card headlined by Munguia (38-0, 30 KOs), a former WBO junior middleweight champ from Tijuana, and Ballard (21-0-1, 13 KOs), of Temple Hills, Maryland, will be announced Friday.
The 23-year-old Ortiz, an anomaly in that he has knocked out every pro opponent he has faced, figures to be a heavy favorite over the light-punching McKinson. The 27-year-old McKinson has gone the distance in eight straight fights and will take a steep step up in class versus Ortiz, who is on the cusp of receiving a welterweight world title shot.
ESPN.com’s Mike Coppinger was the first to report the Ortiz-McKinson and Munguia-Ballard bouts on Twitter.
Ortiz will fight for the first time since his eighth-round stoppage of Egidijus Kavaliauskas on August 14 at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Ortiz displayed both vulnerability and resolve versus Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas (22-2-1, 18 KOs), who buzzed Ortiz in the second round and landed several hard right hands on Ortiz during the sixth round. Ortiz responded by knocking Kavaliauskas to the canvas four times in the eighth round on his way a to technical-knockout victory.
Munguia, meanwhile, has agreed to battle Ballard in a fight that was supposed to take place April 23 in El Paso, Texas.
Ballard replaced Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (30-2, 11 KOs) on short notice once Sulecki withdrew from his fight against Munguia, reportedly due to an elbow injury. Soon thereafter, Ballard suffered an elbow injury of his own while training and pulled out of his fight with Munguia, too.
Munguia has boxed twice since his fights with Sulecki and Ballard were scrapped.
He stopped Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta (21-2-1, 5 KOs) after six one-sided rounds June 19 at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Don Haskins Center. On November 13, Munguia out-pointed Philadelphia’s Gabe Rosado (26-14-1, 15 KOs) by unanimous decision in an action-packed 12-rounder at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Ballard beat Mexico’s Paul Valenzuela Jr. (26-11, 17 KOs, 1 NC) by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder on the Munguia-Rosado undercard.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.