Vergil Ortiz Jr. is still bothered by the subsequent speculation about his training habits after he withdrew five days before he was supposed to fight Michael McKinson on March 19 in Los Angeles.
Rumors regarding his preparation for the McKinson match offended Ortiz, who was hospitalized to treat rhabdomyolysis during the week when he was supposed to box the British southpaw. Rhabdomyolysis, more commonly known as rhabdo, is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the bloodstream, which also could cause long-term kidney and/or heart damage.
Ortiz obviously had no choice but to withdraw from a 12-round main event DAZN was scheduled to stream from USC’s Galen Center. McKinson, of Portsmouth, England, beat Ortiz’s late replacement, Alex Martin, by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder.
Fight week for his rescheduled meeting with McKinson on Saturday night has gone immeasurably smoother for Ortiz, but he remains perplexed as to why some fans and reporters questioned the legitimacy of his illness and withdrawal almost five months ago.
“I’m over here doing the best that I can,” Ortiz told 210BoxingTV, a YouTube channel that covers boxing in Texas. “You know, I’ve been busting my ass for months. And just to be slandered like that, people were slandering my name and a lot of people that were up there, too, they don’t even know what’s going on. They’re giving people just the wrong, straight-up false information.”
The 24-year-old Ortiz felt fine for most of training camp in January, February and March. He was thus surprised that his body broke down as he continued cutting weight to reach the contracted limit of 147 pounds.
“I didn’t feel right,” Ortiz said. “I just didn’t know what was going on. You know, because I was eating perfectly. I mean, everything was going good. I mean, everything just went south for no reason. To me, it felt like no reason, until we went to the doctor and we finally said something’s up. We went to the doctor, they did some blood tests and they found out that my muscles were literally breaking down and sending stuff.
“I really don’t even know the illness like that, like inside and out. But it was sending sh*t to my kidneys and my kidneys were starting to be damaged. So, my whole body was literally breaking down and it was sending all the bad stuff to my organs, so that’s what I know about that illness.”
Ortiz (18-0, 18 KOs) will look to keep his knockout streak intact when he meets McKinson (22-0, 2 KOs) in a 12-round WBA welterweight elimination match. The Grand Prairie, Texas native, who is consistently listed as at least a 14-1 favorite, will end nearly a one-year layoff in a main event DAZN will stream from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
The streaming service’s coverage of the nine-bout Ortiz-McKinson card is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.