By Gilbert Manzano
Fighting on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s undercards and at notable venues in Las Vegas have become the norm for rising junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr.
Some fighters never get to experience what Ortiz has in 12 professional fights. He’s fought once at AT&T Stadium and MGM Grand Garden Arena, and twice at T-Mobile Arena with a third visit scheduled next month.
“As an 18 year old, I was awed that I was fighting on a Canelo undercard,” Ortiz told BoxingScene.com. “I’m getting used to those.”
Ortiz is grateful for the opportunities Golden Boy Promotions has given him since turning pro three years ago. But at age 21, Ortiz is hungry for more, and wants to showcase his skills in front of a packed venue.
He’ll get just that when he meets Mauricio Herrera on May 4 during the co-main event bout to the Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs undercard at T-Mobile Arena. The 10-round welterweight clash between Ortiz and Herrera was moved up the bout sheet on Tuesday.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be co-main event for Canelo,” said Ortiz, who trains in Riverside, California with Robert Garcia. “Canelo is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter right now. The best resume out of all the boxers and I’m co-main for him. And especially with the amount of good fighters they have on the undercard already, that’s a big deal for me.”
Golden Boy Promotions was in need of a new co-main event after David Lemieux was unable to fight John Ryder because of injury. The card features notable fighters Joseph “JoJo” Diaz and Sadam Ali in separate bouts, but Golden Boy Promotions went with the compelling step-up bout for Ortiz, who will be making his welterweight debut.
"This will be a big test for Vergil Ortiz Jr.," Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said in a news release. "This young man has all that it takes to become a dominant world champion, so it's only fitting that a prospect like him gets the opportunity to be the co-main event of a Canelo fight.”
Ortiz, who has knocked out all 12 of his opponents, plans to return to junior welterweight after the Cinco de Mayo weekend bout.
But Ortiz doesn’t see himself staying at 140 pounds for long and wanted to test himself against the savvy veteran Herrera, who has faced Danny Garcia, Jose Benavidez Jr. and Ruslan Provodnikov.
Ortiz is looking forward to the tough matchup, but he’s also excited to have fans in their seats by the time he makes his ring entrance. Ortiz’s other fights on Alvarez’s undercards started early in the day.
“I was actually surprised that they put me up there,” Ortiz said about receiving the co-main event slot. “People are actually going to be in the stands. I’m really excited.”