By Gilbert Manzano
LAS VEGAS — Mauricio Herrera, a savvy 38-year-old veteran, entered Saturday’s fight without a knockout loss in 32 pro fights, and that was against the likes of Danny Garcia, Jose Benavidez Jr., Sadam Ali, Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov.
A 21-year-old “little kid” ended that streak on Saturday with a brutal overhand right.
Vergil Ortiz Jr. recorded one of the best knockouts of 2019 when he landed that memorable right that had Herrera unconscious before he hit the canvas. There was no need for a 10-count, as the referee waved the welterweight bout over 29 seconds into the third round.
“You know, I‘m actually pretty proud of this fight,” said Ortiz, who made his welterweight debut. “If you know me and kept up with my fights, I’m usually not satisfied with my performance. I just want to tell you all and I hope you are too, I am very satisfied with my performance tonight.”
Ortiz, one of boxing’s top prospect not being talked about as much as Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia and Shakur Stevenson, will likely gain plenty of attention after that sensational performance in the co-main event to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs at T-Mobile Arena.
Entering the fight, Ortiz said Herrera told people at a local barbershop he wouldn’t be knocked out by a “little kid,” who’s 17 years younger. Both fighters train in Riverside, California.
Ortiz was a 35-1 favorite at MGM sportsbooks minutes before the first bell. He’s now a perfect 13-0 with 13 knockouts.
“Everyone thinks that I don’t have all that experience just because I’m 12-0,” said Ortiz, who plans on returning to 140 pounds. “Well I’m 13-0 now. People don’t realize I work in the gym hard every day. I spar world champions all the time. I’m not the one that goes to the world champions and says, ‘Hey, can we spar?’ They come up to me. And that’s the difference between me and the other prospects.”
In the opening round, Herrera created distance against the bigger Ortiz by using his jab. But Ortiz landed a straight right hand to give Herrera an early taste of his power.
In the final seconds of the second round, Ortiz broke through with an overhand right to stagger Herrera, but before he fell onto the ropes the bell had rung.
Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes the top prospect, vowed that fight fans will know the name Vergil Ortiz Jr. after May 4. He certainly made the most of his exposure on one of boxing’s biggest nights of the year.
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