Vergil Ortiz Jr. can now move on from the longest layoff of his career.
A 51-week ring absence ended this past Saturday for Ortiz, who scored a ninth-round stoppage of England’s Michael McKinson in their battle of unbeaten welterweights. The nearly year-long hiatus was met with his deepest fight to date, going past the eighth round for the first time but closing the show soon thereafter in their DAZN main event at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs)—who hails from nearby Grand Prairie—previously grew accustomed to fighting every four-to-five months, a rate of activity he plans to resume moving forward.
“I would like to fight again before the year ends,” Ortiz vowed after successfully maintaining his perfect knockout-to-win ratio. “I’m only 24 but boxing is a very short career. I want to fight as often as possible.”
The fight with McKinson (22-1, 2KOs) made its way back to the schedule after being scrapped earlier this year. The two were due to collide on March 19 in Los Angeles but Ortiz was pulled after being hospitalized to treat rhabdomyolysis late in training camp.
The development followed a longer-than-expected stretch between fights, with Ortiz having not fought since last August 14 and also splitting with longtime trainer Robert Garcia during that period. Ortiz—who remains trained by his father Vergil Sr.—has since enlisted the services of Manny Robles, whose team debut came with Saturday’s fight which marked Ortiz’s third straight in the greater Dallas area.
It also served as a title eliminator, with Ortiz now the mandatory challenger to secondary WBA welterweight titlist Eimantas Stanionis (14-0, 9KOS). The 24-year-old Texan is also the number-one contender to WBO welterweight champ and pound-for-pound entrant Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (38-0. 29KOs), who was in attendance on Saturday in support of stablemate and past Ortiz knockout victim Maurice Hooker (27-3-3, 18KOs).
Despite the lofty rankings, a title shot isn’t guaranteed to be next. That is of less concern to Ortiz than getting back in the ring, regardless of who mans the opposite corner.
“I obviously want to fight everybody,” insisted Ortiz. “As long as there is a path to a world title, I want to fight anyone that it’s in my way.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox