Vergil Ortiz didn’t plan for his first fight of the year to serve as a hometown headliner but will certainly embrace the opportunity.
Original plans called for the top-rated welterweight contender to face England’s Michael McKinson earlier this March in Los Angeles. An untimely bout with rhabdomyolysis forced Ortiz to withdraw from the event, though the fight was since rescheduled in a more familiar setting. The pair of unbeaten welterweights will collide August 6 atop a DAZN show from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, mere miles from Ortiz’s hometown in Grand Prairie, Texas.
“It’s a good feeling to fight again at home,” Ortiz told BoxingScene.com of fighting for the third straight time in the greater Dallas area. “Hopefully this is a lot bigger. The social distancing part limited how many tickets we could sell last time we were there. Hopefully we get a lot more people in the arena this time.
“It will be louder this time than it was in the Maurice Hooker fight, if that’s even possible. It was pretty fuckin’ loud last time.”
Ortiz (18-0, 18KOs) played the same venue in an all-Dallas showdown with former 140-pound titlist Maurice Hooker (27-2-3, 18KOs) last March. The competitive fight between friendly rivals ended with Ortiz preserving his perfect knockout-to-win ratio with a seventh-round stoppage. The fight took place in front of as many fans as social distancing would allow at the time, though still providing enough noise for a packed house.
A second straight trip home came with what would become Ortiz’s most recent and deepest win. The heavy-handed contender earned an eighth-round knockout of former title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (22-2-1, 18KOs) last August 14 at The Ford Center at The Star in nearby Frisco.
Ortiz is now pressed with a 51-week gap between fights by the time he faces McKinson (22-0, 2KOs), a crafty southpaw who provides a different look from anyone he’s faced to date. Whatever unfamiliarity comes in the ring will at least take place in front of familiar faces at home.
“It’s a great feeling to be in a position where you can hopefully inspire these young kids to take on boxing. It’s just all about putting it on for my people back at home.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox