Vergil Ortiz Jr. was less bothered by how long it took to produce his latest victory than the approach he took to get the job done.
By his own admission, the 24-year-old contender from the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas got ahead of himself in an eventual ninth-round stoppage of England’s Michael McKinson. The battle of unbeaten welterweights marked Ortiz’s first fight in 51 weeks, clearly eager to please his adoring fans at Dickies Arena in nearby Fort Worth. He eventually closed the show to keep alive his perfect knockout to win ratio, though not entirely pleased with his approach.
“There were a few instances where I had him hurt to the head,” Ortiz admitted during the post-fight press conference. “I think the main problem became that I was headhunting. He was elusive, the guy could move.
“He saw that I was going for the head. I picked it up and made the wrong decision. I should have been chopping down the tree.”
Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) eventually returned to his vicious body attack, with left hooks serving as the cause for knockdowns late in round eight and early in round nine. McKinson (22-1, 2KOs) revealed after the fight that the first knockdown left him with a hampered right hip, clearly hindering his performance in round nine to the point of his corner literally waving the towel to end the fight.
The knockout win marked the deepest that Ortiz has been extended, having previously never fought past round eight. Getting rounds is always a good thing for a fighter on the rise, more so for one who has been out of the ring for nearly a full year. There was plenty from which to learn, which is Ortiz’s main takeaway from Saturday.
“I’m not saying that I got an F. I’m just saying there is room for improvement,” noted Ortiz, who hopes to return by the end of the year. “I’m going to back and watch to see what I can improve on.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox