By Francisco Salazar
Vergil Ortiz wants to prove he is no flash in the pan. Despite notching highlight-reel knockouts, Ortiz believes he is on his way to becoming an all-around fighter who will become a world titleholder.
Ortiz will headline a fight card for the first time in his young career tonight when he squares off against former world titleholder Juan Carlos Salgado at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles.
The 10 round bout will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
Tonight's fight will mark the first time Ortiz will have trainer Robert Garcia in his corner. Ortiz had worked with trainer Joel Diaz since making his pro debut almost two years ago.
Ortiz (9-0, 9 knockouts), who is originally from the Dallas area and lives and trains in the Riverside area, has benefitted from the amount of sparring at Garcia's gym. Ortiz has sparred with the likes of Mikey Garcia and Jose Ramirez, both world titleholders.
Ortiz believes the guidance and instruction from Garcia has had a significant impact.
"I have an explosive style and I'm aggressive," Ortiz told BoxingScene.com earlier this week. "Robert has worked with me on distance, reach, and using lateral movement."
"I've gotten really good sparring with Mikey and Jose. Robert is a hands-on coach. I'm really grateful Robert and his staff take the time to really work with me. They're not there for a paycheck."
Garcia likes what he sees thus far.
"Vergil is a very strong fighter, physically and mentally," said Garcia. "He's a much better fighter from sparring against Mikey and Jose. He is a very dedicated fighter with one goal in mind and that's to be the best."
Ortiz is facing a fighter in Salgado who won a world title belt as a junior lightweight in 2012. Salgado, who is from Mexico City, has lost seven of his last eight bouts.
Despite Salgado's recent struggles, Ortiz is not overlooking tonight's opponent.
"Salgado has a lot more experience as a pro, but I want to prove and show something new in every fight."
Ortiz has demonstrated extraordinary power thus far, especially in his last bout. Ortiz battered Jesus Alvarez on Feb. 22, stopping him in the third round.
Despite his penchant for quick knockout victories, Ortiz is still humble, looking for ways to get better.
"I never want to come across as someone who is full of himself. The motivation to be better is always there. I could always be better as a fighter. I just want to remain humble."
"I work so hard in the gym. I just want to continue to be the best I can be."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing