Vergil Ortiz Jr. is confident of prevailing in this weekend’s battle of Dallas-based welterweights and eventually proving himself to be the area’s best overall fighter.
Odds are in favor to prevail this weekend over Maurice Hooker, though Ortiz will have to go through another Dallas-bred welterweight to eventually prove regional bragging rights. The unbeaten knockout artist envisions a future showdown with reigning unified welterweight titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs), though far enough down the road where both are already in pursuit of glory in another weight division.
“It’s definitely a 154-pound fight,” Ortiz told BoxingScene.com of such a dream matchup. “I think it would have to take place at 154.”
For now, Grand Prairie’s Ortiz (16-0, 16KOs) is entrenched in the 147-pound division in pursuit of his first major title. An important step in that journey comes this Saturday, as he faces Dallas’ Hooker (27-1-3, 18KOs) atop a DAZN telecast this Saturday (9:00 p.m. ET) from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Fight week whispers suggest that Desoto’s own Spence will be in attendance to support the pair of local welterweights, having long known both boxers.
“Errol and I used to be teammates,” notes Ortiz, who is coming off of a 7th round knockout of Samuel Vargas last July in Indio, California. “We’re cool. There’s no bad blood between us.
“We’re cool but it’s not like we talk all the time or anything. We know there’s the potential for a fight between us one day. It’s not a bad relationship.”
Naturally, Ortiz can’t help but view Spence as a future challenge considering where he intends to go in the sport. The hope for 2021 is to move toward a world title, if not against his fellow Texan than perhaps unbeaten three-division and reigning WBO welterweight titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Terence Crawford (37-0, 28KO).
That fight is very much on Ortiz’s radar, further motivated by the fact that Hooker is Crawford’s stablemate as both train under Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre. Of course, there is also the part where Ortiz simply wants to begin facing the best that the division has to offer in his quest to develop his own pound-for-pound accolades.
“The top two best are Crawford and Spence,” acknowledges Ortiz of the welterweight division. You got [Manny] Pacquiao, you got [Yordenis] Ugas, I always said that Ugas was very underrated. Then you got the big three contenders—[Keith] Thurman, [Danny] Garcia and [Shawn] Porter. They’ve all been champions, they all got wins and losses with each other.
“Then some other names, but I would put myself there. Once I start beating these guys, I will show that I belong with the best.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox