Vergil Ortiz Jr. put to rest any questions of where he stands in the welterweight division.
The fighting pride of Grand Prairie, Texas arrived at a ripped and ready 146.6 pounds for his first fight of 2022 and his third straight in the greater Dallas area. Ortiz faces England’s Michael McKinson (22-0, 2KOs), who weighed 146.8 pounds for the battle of unbeaten welterweights this Saturday on DAZN from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
The bout was due to take place March 19 in Los Angeles, only for Ortiz (18-0, 18KOs) to be pulled from the show after he was hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis. McKinson proceeded with the show, outpointing late substitute Alex Martin in a dull ten-round affair representing the Englishman’s U.S. debut.
False rumors swirled—sadly including several media members—of Ortiz struggling to make welterweight, only to learn of his medical scare. The 24-year-old Texan has been given a clean bill of health and prepares to fight for the first time this year, with Saturday’s main event doubling as a WBA welterweight title eliminator.
Ortiz is coming off an eighth-round knockout of Egidijus Kavaliauskas last August in Frisco, Texas. Five months prior, Ortiz stopped local friendly rival Maurice Hooker (27-2-3, 18KOs) inside of seven rounds in this very venue last March.
Dallas’ Hooker returns to the ring for the first time since that night, though requiring the cooperation of opponent Blair Cobbs to move forward with the fight. The former WBO junior welterweight titlist showed up at a beefy 150 pounds, well above the original contracted limit. Cobbs (15-1-1, 11KOs) agreed to move forward at the new limit, having weighed a shredded 146 pounds for his first fight since suffering a ninth-round knockout loss to Alexis Rocha on the same March 19 DAZN show that was originally due to house the Ortiz-McKinson bout.
The lone title fight on the show pits lineal/WBC/WBA flyweight champion Marlen Esparza in a scheduled ten-round bout with mandatory challenger Eva Guzman (19-1-1, 11KOs) of Maracay, Venezuela.
Houston’s Esparza (12-1-1, 1KO) weighed 111.8 pounds for her third overall title defense. The petite Guzman—standing all of 4’11 ½”—checked in at 109 pounds for her first true title fight, having previously claimed the interim WBA belt. The presiding commission swapped their weights during Friday's ceremonial weigh-in, explaining why Esparza was announced at what would be a career-lowest 109 pounds.
Opening the four-fight DAZN telecast, Bektemir Melikuziev (9-1, 7KOs) faces Bosnian journeyman Sladan Janjanin (32-11, 24KOs) in a scheduled ten-round contest above the super middleweight limit. Uzbekistan’s Melikuziev—who trains out of Joel Diaz’s Indio, California—weighed 171 pounds; Janjanin was 168 pounds.
Golden Boy Fight Night Undercard (DAZN, Golden Boy YouTube Channel, 5:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. local)
Floyd Schofield (10-0, 8KOs), Austin, Texas, 133.8 pounds vs. Rodrigo Guerrero (26-14-2, 16KOs), Mexico City, 134.6 pounds—8 rounds, lightweight
Alex Martin (17-4, 6KOs), Chicago, 140 pounds vs. Henry ‘Hank’ Lundy (31-10-1, 14KOs), Philadelphia, 138.8 pounds—10 rounds, junior welterweight
Carlos Nava (8-0, 5KOs), Pasadena, Texas, 138.8 pounds vs. Rodolfo Hernandez (30-10-1, 28KOs), Mexico City, 135 pounds—6 rounds, lightweight
Figo Ramirez Gonzalez (1-0, 1KO), Dallas, 117.4 pounds vs. Francisco Bonilla (6-13-3, 3KOs), Chihuahua, Mexico, 117 pounds—4 rounds, bantamweight
Rohan Polanco (7-0, 4KOs), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 147 pounds vs. Dedrick Bell (31-32-1, 17KOs), Memphis, 146.8—8 rounds, welterweight