Vergil Ortiz Jr. is not only sticking around at welterweight but made a point to seek out one of the division’s boogeymen.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the unbeaten top-rated welterweight contender will likely next face David Avanesyan atop an August 6 DAZN show in the greater Dallas area. The scheduled 12-round bout will serve as a final eliminator for the WBC welterweight title current WBC/WBA/IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22KOs).
According to multiple sources, the fight is still not officially signed.
Once agreed to, the event will mark the 2022 debut for Ortiz (18-0, 18KOs), who will end a career-long 51-week ring hiatus both due to scheduling delays and an untimely health scare. The red-hot knockout artist from Grand Prairie, Texas was originally tabbed to headline a DAZN show in January, only for a rescheduled shuffle pushing back his fight with England’s Michael McKinson to March 19 at USC Galen Center in Los Angeles.
Ortiz never made it to fight night, as he was hospitalized prior to the start of fight week to treat rhabdomyolysis, commonly known as rhabdo. The extreme medical condition which occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases proteins into the bloodstream, which was an obvious disqualifier in his moving forward with the fight.
Despite rumors of his struggling to make weight and with a move to the 154-pound division imminent, Ortiz previously confirmed his plans to stick around at welterweight where he still plans to win his first major title. The decision brought the discussion back to a fight that was first proposed during the annual WBC convention last November.
Ortiz and Avanesyan have remained the top two rated contenders in the WBC welterweight rankings, which prompted the sanctioning body to propose a final eliminator. Golden Boy Promotions, Ortiz’s promoter, asked for and was granted a one-fight delay since plans were already in motion for his next fight.
Avanesyan (29-3-1, 17KOs) accepted a stay-busy fight, scoring a first-round knockout of unbeaten but untested Oskari Metz on March 19 at Wembley’s SSE Arena. The fight extended a current six-fight win streak—all by knockout—for the Russia-born boxer of Armenian descent, who is based out of England.
Prior to his current run and rise to welterweight contender status, Avanesyan was best known for his May 2016 win over former three-division champion Shane Mosley, who retired after the fight and was since elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Avanesyan won a secondary WBA welterweight title, which he lost one fight later in a competitive but clear decision in favor of Lamont Peterson in February 2017.
A considerably more lopsided sixth-round knockout loss to then-unbeaten Egidijus Kavaliauskas in February 2018 left Avanesyan’s career in a tailspin. He worked it to his advantage, having defeated three unbeaten opponents in his current six-fight win streak, including notable stoppage wins over Kerman Lejarraga (twice) and Josh Kelly, all coming on the road.
Avanesyan now faces a similar predicament, though against a far more dangerous foe in Ortiz.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox