By Lem Satterfield
Junior welterweight Vergil Ortiz could be a champion sometime in 2019, ultimately competing at as high at 154 pounds later on in his career, said Golden Boy president Eric Gomez.
“Vergil’s campaigning at 140 and he’s on the verge of being ready for a title shot. We’re not targeting one specific champion but any opportunity that’s out there. We’re hoping we can get him to challenge for a title this year,” said Gomez of Ortiz.
“Vergil’s a very well-schooled, well-disciplined fighter who has passed every test and has a tremendous upside. He’s a big, strong kid who is standing at around 5-foot-10, or 5-foot-11. Assuming that he keeps growing, I think his future is at 154 or even at middleweight at some point.”
The 20-year-old Ortiz (11-0, 11 KOs) enters his third fight under trainer Robert Garcia against 32-year-old Saul Corrall (28-13, 19 KOs) on the January 26 DAZN undercard of a WBA 154-pound title defense by Jamie Mungia (31-0, 26 KOs) against Takeshi Inoue (13-0-0-1, 7 KOs) at The Toyota Center in Houston.
"I'm definitely looking to fight for a world title before I reach 20 fights. I feel that I can get a title shot toward the end of this year or the beginning of next year," said Ortiz, of Dallas, Texas.
"I feel like I can make 140 for at least a little while more, and that maybe at the end of 2020, I could go to 147. Nothing's for sure, but I think that's realistic."
Ortiz has spent time in the past training alongside 31-year-old four-division champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), who has a March 16 clash and 147-pound debut against IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs).
Garcia is after his fifth crown in as many divisions against Spence, who is chasing his third defense and 12th straight knockout victory at The Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Fox Pay Per View.
Ortiz sparred with Garcia in advance of the four-division champion's last fight, a one-knockdown, unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Robert Easter (July 2018) that added Easter's IBF 135-pound title to Garcia's WBC version.
"I was working with Mikey when he fought Easter. That was great. I learned a lot and he taught me a lot. I feel like that really made me a better boxer. I haven't worked with Mikey for this camp since he's going to be working with southpaws," said Ortiz of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, California.
"There is a lot of good sparring over here and that's a bonus. I love to spar, and that's where I get the most work."It's been really great working with Robert. He's a great coach who knows a lot of things."
Over the course of his past four fights, Ortiz has stopped fighters who had more knockouts he had victories. He is coming off consecutive stoppages of former two-time titleholder Juan Carlos Salgado (June) and hammer-fisted Roberto Ortiz (September), who is unrelated and entered their bout at 35-3-2 with 26 KOs.
Following a 21-second KO in November 2017 of Evandro Cavelheiro, who was 13-3 (10 KOs) before the loss, Ortiz fought three times in 2018 beginning with a third-round KO of Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez (February), who was 15-3 (11 KOs) coming in.
In Salgado, Ortiz faced the owner of a 73-second, two-knockdown stoppage of three-division champion Jorge Linares (October 2009). Salgado succumbed to Ortiz’s wicked body shot.
Vergil faced Roberto Ortiz on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin rematch at T-Mobile Arena, twice flooring him with second-round right hands, ending at the 1:03 mark. The finish was swifter than Roberto Ortiz’s second-round KO loss to former champion Lucas Matthysse (September 2014).
"[Salgado and Ortiz] are two big names," said Ortiz. "I definitely think that give's me a little credibility, but I'm looking to add even more."
Corrall has suffered a pair of knockouts among his three straight losses. Corraall's past two setbacks were by third- and seventh-round stoppage to unbeaten fighters Alexander Besputin (May) and Rashidi Ellis (October).
"I don't know anything about [Corrall,]" said Ortiz. "I don't expect the knockout, but I do expect to look good, whether or not I get the knockout."