Vergil Ortiz might be no worse than the second most promising young welterweight in boxing. Time may tell that he was the best of a bunch that also includes the talent Jarron Ennis and Eimantas Stanionis.

It doesn’t mean that every outing on the way to wherever Ortiz is going needs to be one for the time capsule.

On Saturday, Ortiz overcame a cut, scored two knockdowns, and handed Michael McKinson his first loss. Still, it was the most awkward Ortiz bout in recent memory. McKinson wasn’t really trying to win after the first few rounds but the southpaw knew how to make Ortiz work for it and Ortiz might have made it harder than need be by over pursuing at times. He smelled blood, knew the knockout was there, but it took Ortiz awhile to let it come to him.

For Ortiz, that sort of night could have real value. Ortiz still hasn’t had to wait for the judges in a spotless career. Figuring out how to stop someone playing to survive will give another dimension to his rise and give him quality tape to review to see what he could have done to make it happen sooner. 

Whether his future is really at welterweight or higher, every little bit of learning is a plus.  

Futures: Ortiz is now the leading contender for both the WBA and WBO at welterweight. For the latter, that would mean a shot at Terence Crawford. Crawford was in the building for the fight but his eyes, and the eyes of the boxing world, are still on Crawford facing Errol Spence. 

When it comes to the WBA, being the leading contender is really being their number two. The real top contender is their sub-titlist, Stanionis, with Spence holding the primary WBA belt right now. Ortiz-Stanionis has alliance issues, but if Ortiz wanted to push that case it’s hard to think of a more blood-and-guts battle at welterweight right now. Those two would mix like peanut butter and jelly. It’s probably not the route for either, but one can hope.    

Cliff’s Notes…

Boxing always needs personalities who are unlikely to be champions and Blair Cobbs has been a fun addition to the mix. In another era, he’d likely have been a staple of Tuesday or Friday Night Fights fighting guys like Mickey Ward and Rey Oliveira. Saturday, he rebounded from his first loss with a decision win over former titlist Maurice Hooker in a career-best performance. There’s more to come from “Blair the Flair”...Marlen Esparza had the trickiest of foes, an opponent without her experience as a pro or amateur but one with a record that looked good. It turned out Eva Guzman was the goods despite limited opposition and we got a nice flyweight scrap. Esparza held on to keep open the idea of a rematch with Seniesa Estrada but Guzman is welcome back anytime…Michael Conlan shook off the dramatic loss to Leigh Wood earlier this year in workmanlike fashion. Conlan will be under real fire again sometime soon and we’ll know better how back he is.           

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at