Vergil Ortiz Jr. is professional enough to enter every fight with tunnel vision.
At just 23 and entering the prime years of his career, the unbeaten Texan is also young and eager enough to at least consider the road that lies ahead. Regardless of the stakes with a win on Saturday, it should at least mean a relatively quick turnaround for the rising welterweight.
“I definitely want a third fight this year,” Ortiz confirmed to BoxingScene.com. “That is definitely the plan.”
Ortiz (17-0, 17KOs) fights for the second time in 2021, both taking place in the greater Dallas area where he was born and raised. The latest comes in a scheduled twelve-round welterweight clash with Lithuania’s two-time Olympian and former title challenger Egidijus ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18KOs). Their bout takes place Saturday evening, live on DAZN from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, not too far from Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena where Ortiz picked up his most recent win—a seventh-round stoppage of Maurice Hooker this past March.
The win took just days before Ortiz’s 23rd birthday and eight months following his previous ring appearance last July. A spell with Covid in part contributed to the gap between fights—his longest as a pro after the pandemic put seven months between his two bouts prior to the win over Hooker.
It’s a far cry from the four-fight campaign that led Ortiz to landing as the 2019 BoxingScene.com Prospect of the Year, though he is gradually working back toward that level of activity.
The goal down the road is to fight for a major title. Ortiz is the number-one contender to the WBO welterweight belt currently held by Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (37-0, 28KOs), who is currently in negotiations for a title defense versus former two-time welterweight titlist ‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17KOs). That fight—should it be made—will likely land in the fourth quarter of 2021, certainly no earlier than that.
Ortiz has refused to speculate about facing the winner for a number of reasons, namely he still has to get past Kavaliauskas—a true welterweight and arguably his most accomplished opponent to date. Providing he continues his winning ways, Ortiz would rather remain active than wait around for a title shot not likely to come until well into 2022.
“I would love the title fight, but it also depends on when [Crawford and Porter] fight,” notes Ortiz. “I don’t feel like Crawford is the type of fighter who goes back home and right away gets ready for the next one. He’s more a two-time a year type fighter. I might have to win another one before I get to him. I’m not too sure what their plan is.
"For now, all the focus is on Mean Machine. After that, we can talk about the future but if all goes well and I win (on Saturday), I know I want to fight again this year.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox