LOS ANGELES – Vergil Ortiz Jr. amicably split from trainer Robert Garcia in November after a three-year plus pact with the former world champion boxer turned coach.
The fast-rising welterweight contender entertained the idea of a union with touted trainer Eddy Reynoso, but ultimately he handed the coaching keys to his career to respected cornerman Manny Robles.
Ortiz (18-0, 18 KOs) was scheduled to make his debut under the tutelage of Robles on March 19 against Michael McKinson at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, but the unbeaten puncher was forced to withdraw with an illness.
The 23-year-old upstart has been guided throughout his ascending career by his father Vergil Sr. and coach Hector Beltran.
Ortiz Jr. explained the decision around introducing a new voice in his corner.
“We felt that it was just the best move [to move away from Garcia]. It was nothing personal,” Ortiz told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “Nothing bad happened. We just felt that in order for me to grow as a fighter, we just needed to move on.
“We were going to train with [Reynoso]. We were out in his gym for a few weeks [toward the end of 2021]. [Reynoso] wasn’t there, so, you know, the times just didn’t mesh up. He was busy with something. It was just really bad timing at the end of the year and during the holidays and no one is fighting. It was bad timing. It didn’t work out.”
Ortiz said his union with Robles is not a one-off, and that he is committed to the coach who once guided Andy Ruiz Jr. to a shocking knockout win against Anthony Joshua in 2019.
“The transition has only been around location,” said Ortiz. “My dad and coach Hector Beltran have been my trainers my whole time. It was just a matter of changing locations and environment [from Riverside to Norwalk, Calif.] Other than that, I feel like the move has been pretty great. I feel as strong as I ever have been. I feel on point. My rhythm is intact.
“The sparring and variety that I’m getting at Manny’s gym is really great. We’re in the heart of LA where everyone is at. I’m having fun there.”
The Texas native Ortiz had an astounding 2021 with an eighth-round KO win against former world champion Maurice Hooker in March and a seventh-round stoppage against former world title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas in September.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.