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Vergil Ortiz Jr in a hurry to face Terence Crawford

Image: Vergil Ortiz Jr in a hurry to face Terence Crawford

By Kenneth Friedman: Vergil Ortiz Jr feels he’s ready to step up a level to face Terence Crawford, and he wants that fight if possible. Only 22-years-old, Ortiz Jr (15-0, 15 KOs) is already showing the kind of power and talent that puts him with the past at 147.

Ortiz is in a position where he can’t wait three or four years before fighting Crawford because the Nebraska native will be too old by then and likely retired. Vergil has got to take Crawford on while he still has something left in the gas tank.

It’ll be pointless for Ortiz to fight Crawford when he’s a shot fighter because he won’t gain anything from taking his scalp.

The way Ortiz is talking, he’s getting bored with the type of opponents that Golden Boy is putting him in with repeatedly. When you’re knocking everyone out, as Ortiz is doing, it’s a sign that your promoter needs to begin putting you in with more advanced-level fighters.

We do not see that yet from Golden Boy, as they’re matching Ortiz like he’s fragile and might break.

With Ortiz’s 15-fight knockout streak, it’s no wonder why he feels he’s ready to take on 32-year-old Crawford. The kind of power that Ortiz possesses, he would knockout Crawford as well if he can put hands on him consistently enough. Crawford’s chin is no better than any other fighter.

Image: Vergil Ortiz Jr in a hurry to face Terence Crawford

Crawford looking solid at 147

What makes him good is his defense and his counter-punching. But Crawford has been hurt before, as we saw in his last title defense against Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

That fighter was ranked #1 last December when he challenged Terence for his WBO 147lb belt, but he wasn’t a significant talent. Bottom fringe contender Ray Robinson arguably beat Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) last year in March 2019, but had to settle for a 10 round draw.

The World Boxing Organization still had Kavaliauskas ranked #1 at 147, which is hard to agree with, given how poor he looked against Robinson.

Ortiz might be a little too ambitious in jumping out ahead of what his promoters have planned for him. A fight between him and Crawford is doable one, as Top Rank promoter Bob Arum would love to make a fight like that.

Crawford still hasn’t gotten his feet wet against the talented welterweights since moving up to 147 in 2018. Top Rank set him up with a fight against WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn, who arguably didn’t deserve to be the champ after questionable foul-filled win over Manny Pacquiao.

In Crawford’s three other fights at 147, he’s beaten these fighters: Amir Khan, Jose Benavidez Jr, and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Those guys aren’t the murderer’s row of the 147lb weight class. They’re just primary fringe-level fighters at best, and any decent welterweight likely would have beaten them as well.

Vergil Ortiz looks unbeatable

Crawford would be a big favorite, and it would help increase his popularity if he’s seen beating Vergil. Golden Boy might be reluctant about letting Ortiz face the unbeaten Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs).

Vergil Jr is headlining this month against Samuel Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs) on July 24 in a 12-round fight on DAZN at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Ortiz vs. Vargas card will take place behind closed doors without the boxing public.

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Vargas is a showcase opportunity for Ortiz to display his talent and impress the boxing fans. Vergil Jr will have his WBA Gold Welterweight title on the line. Talentwise, Samuel Vargas is similar to Ortiz’s recent opponents:

  • Mauricio Herrera
  • Antonio Orozco
  • Brad Solomon
  • Juan Carlos Salgado
  • Roberto Ortiz

Ortiz is knocking everyone out that Golden Boy puts in front of him. If Golden Boy lets Ortiz face the best, we can see if he can handle the step up.

The Gold belt is a tertiary title, behind the WBA ‘Super World’ and WBA ‘World’ straps. Crawford wouldn’t be interested in Ortiz’s third level belt.

Ortiz wants Crawford

With Ryan Garcia having turned down a choice opportunity to headline a DAZN card for Golden Boy, the company is now giving a big push to Ortiz Jr to make him into a star.

Ortiz is more rugged than lightweight Ryan Garcia, and he has a better chance of competing against the elite at welterweight.

“I want to fight Crawford,” Ortiz said to “He’s a very skilled fighter, arguably among the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world today, and very smart. I’m very open to fighting him. That’s probably the easiest fight to make in boxing right now,” said Ortiz.

Crawford has captured world titles at 135, 140 and 147, and looked superb in each division. The thing that boxing fans have a problem with is Crawford marched through each weight class without being put in with the best.

Whether that’s something that Top Rank chose to do to make Crawford look better than he is, it’s hard to say. All we know is Crawford hasn’t fought the best, and that’s why some people question whether he deserves to be a pound-for-pound fighter.

Throughout the history of boxing, there have many examples of fighters with inflated records, built on wins over lesser opposition. When those fighters eventually are forced to fight the best, they fall apart and lose.

Image: Vergil Ortiz Jr in a hurry to face Terence Crawford

Will that be the case with Crawford when he faces Ortiz Jr, Errol Spence, or Shawn Porter? We don’t know. Crawford is getting older, and he still doesn’t have a signature win on his resume after 12 years as a pro.

Crawford vs. Ortiz Jr will need to wait

For Crawford’s sake, hopefully, Top Rank doesn’t waste the remaining years of his career continuing to put him in with weak opposition. They’ve got to test Crawford at some point by letting him fight Spence, Porter, and Ortiz.

“I’m ready to take any opportunity thrown my way. I understand how hard it is to make big fights these days so if I received an offer to face Crawford, I would take it,” said Ortiz Jr.

Even if Golden Boy did give Ortiz the green light to fight Crawford, they’re not going to make that move until crowds return. In theory, we could be waiting until 2021 or later. That’s up to the U.S government to come up with a vaccine so that fans can resume attending fights.

Ortiz is stuck between a rock and a hard place with him coming on at the wrong time. Errol Spence Jr will move up to 154 soon without facing Ortiz, and Manny Pacquiao is about to retire. The leftover names are aging guys like Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, Crawford, and Keith Thurman.

These fighters don’t have much time left before they’re over-the-hill, and taking losses left and right. Their promoters might be able to get a little extra mileage out of their careers if they match them the way Top Rank has matched Crawford, but they’re still running out of time.




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