Vergil Ortiz Jr. cannot emphasize enough his intention to remain at welterweight long enough to win his first major title.
The wait could run well in 2023, given the ongoing process to get WBA/WBC/IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence and WBO title claimant Terence Crawford in the ring to crown an undisputed champion. Ortiz is willing to stick out, since even a move to 154 in search of a title shot wouldn’t make sense given the considerable logjam.
“I want to stay at 147 and get a belt here,” Ortiz told The DAZN Boxing Show co-hosts Akin ‘Ak’ Reyes and Barak Bess. “We missed out on an opportunity at 140. We don’t want the same thing to happen at 147.”
Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) outgrew the junior welterweight division less than three years into his career. Fittingly, his first year at welterweight ended with his earning accolades as 2019 Prospect of the Year. The belief was that he would transition to contender status, though circumstances beyond his control—including the pandemic—slowed his progress.
Four wins have followed his terrific 2019 campaign, though quality has come of the lack of desired quantity. The 24-year-old from the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas has scored stoppage wins over former WBO 140-pound titlist Maurice Hooker, welterweight title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas and unbeaten contender Michael McKinson, all inside of nine rounds and all in his home region.
The win over McKinson came in a WBA title eliminator, with Ortiz now the number-one contender with that sanctioning body as well as the WBO. He is also number two with the WBC and number-three with the IBF. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Ortiz has recently petitioned the WBA to enforce his mandatory status against unbeaten secondary titlist Eimantas Stanionis (14-0, 9KOs; 1ND), hopeful that the fight—or any matchup—will happen before the end of the year.
“Whatever opportunity comes my way at this point. I’m kind of running out of names to fight,” noted Ortiz, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and managed by Rick Mirigian. “There’s really only the top five, the top six left. Any of them who want to fight, I’m ready to fight anybody.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox