Vergil Ortiz has a fight date and the chance to enter a final title elimination bout.
They just won’t occur on the same night.
The unbeaten welterweight contender from Grand Prairie, Texas is being groomed for an active 2022 campaign, as he is set to return January 22. The fight date was confirmed by Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions and Ortiz’s promoter who was forced to reveal the news during the mandatory challenger portion of the 59th annual WBC Convention on Tuesday.
Gomez confirmed that Golden Boy is in advanced talks with the opponent to be named once a deal is reach. The development came about as a motion was made for Ortiz (18-0, 18KOs) to next face streaking contender David Avanesyan (28-3-1, 16KOs) in a final eliminator to determine the WBC mandatory challenger for Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs), who holds the WBC and IBF welterweight titles.
The motion—made by Neil Marsh, Avanesyan’s manager—was unanimously approved, contingent upon Ortiz emerging victorious on January 22.
Avanesyan is currently riding a five-fight win streak, all coming after his brief secondary WBA welterweight title reign. The 33-year-old Russia-born contender of Armenian heritage first gained fame in a 12-round win over Hall of Fame former three-division champion ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley to win the belt in May 2016. The reign was short-lived, conceding the belt to Lamont Peterson in February 2017 for the first of two losses within a 52-week span.
The latter defeat came in a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of then-unbeaten Egidijus Kavaliauskas in February 2018. Avanesyan has since turned his career around in a big way, beginning with a come-from-behind ninth-round knockout of then-undefeated contender Kerman Lejarraga in March 2019 in Bilbao, Spain.
Avanesyan repeated the feat in far more crushing fashion, needing less than three minutes to take out Lejaragga later that September. The rematch also took place in Bilbao, with Avanesyan fighting for a third straight time in Spain in a first-round knockout of Jose del Rio in December 2019. The win set up a coveted showdown with unbeaten prospect Josh Kelly, with the fight delayed several times due to the pandemic. The two finally met this past February, with Avanesyan stopping the Brit inside of six rounds at Wembley’s SSE Arena. The same venue hosted his most recent outing, a two-round blitzing of Liam Taylor this past October.
Ortiz has emerged as a serious threat in the stacked welterweight division. The 2019 Prospect of the Year has yet to see a pro fight go to the scorecards, though he has been extended beyond the sixth round in three straight fights since the pandemic.
Having previously never fought that deep, Ortiz was taken into the seventh round of his eventual knockout win over Samuel Vargas last July at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The fight took place behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions before returning home for a pair of wins in the greater Dallas area.
Ortiz played to a rabid crowd at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, where he stopped local friendly rival and former junior welterweight titlist Maurice Hooker 0:36 into the seventh round of their entertaining clash this past March. Five months later came a rare in-ring scare, with Ortiz rocked late in the second round of an eventual eighth-round knockout of Egidijus Kavaliauskas this past August 14 at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Ortiz quickly recovered from the sequence to score five knockdowns en route to his deepest stoppage win to date.
At the time, Ortiz hoped to get in a third fight in 2021. Those plans were pushed back just far enough to where he gets to kick off 2022 with a bang—and with year to only get bigger once the final title eliminator is ordered.
The winner of Ortiz-Avanesyan—assuming the fight is made—will be granted a straight away shot at the WBC title, whether versus Spence or with a vacant belt at stake should Spence opt to move up to junior middleweight in the near future.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox