Vergil Ortiz Jr one or two fights away from world title shot
By Jim Maltzman: Vergil Ortiz Jr is only one or two fights away from fighting for a world title at 147, according to Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez. Ortiz (16-0, 16 KOs) would have fought for a world title in 2020, but the pandemic ruined those plans.
Gomez still plans on getting Ortiz Jr out two more times before matching him against whichever 147lb champion will give him a shot. WBA champ Manny Pacquiao would be the ideal guy for Ortiz Jr to fight if possible, but Manny is likely to take on Mikey Garcia when he returns to the ring in 2020 or 2021.
WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford could make things easier on Ortiz Jr by offering him a fight, but thus for, he’s not shown interest in fighting him.
Gomez was impressed with Ortiz Jr as an amateur
“Here in Southern California, there was a big amateur tournament, and I was tipped off to Vergil Ortiz, and from the first fight I saw him, I was impressed,” said Gomez to Boxing Social.
“He was using the amateur gloves, which are a lot bigger than the pro gloves, and he knocked out pretty much every opponent to win the title in the amateur tournament in his weight class.
“So that was very impressive. I hadn’t seen anything like that in a long time, maybe going back all the way to Oscar De La Hoya when he was an amateur, and he was knocking people out with 12-oz gloves.
So that’s something that really caught my eye, but what’s impressed me more now is his ability to box. He obviously has the power, and he can punch. His ability to box and he’s really a well-rounded professional fighter, and he’s become a complete fighter,” said Gomez on Vergil Ortiz.
There’s a lot to like in watching Vergil fight. He’s made improvements in his footwork, and he’s fighting more like middleweight Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
The footwork that Ortiz Jr used in his recent 7th round knockout over Samuel Vargas on July 24 was impressive. Ortiz Jr learned that movement overnight, and he did it as well as Derevyanchenko did.
Vergil would be fighting for a world title this year
“He’s still very young, and he’s learning, but the skies the limit for Vergil,” said Gomez. “You’ve got to step up the competition, and once he’s in the top 10 in the rankings in the world rankings, you have to have some luck, and you’ve got to be able to match him up against guys that are on top and ahead of him to get him in the position for a world title.
“I feel that if we didn’t have a pandemic this year, I truly feel that Vergil would be fighting for some sort of world title at the end of this year. Now with the pandemic, it’s slowed down the plans we have for him.
“But you’re absolutely right. He’s knocking on the door, and he’s one or two fights from fighting for a world title. What Vergil has done, he’s built up a reputation. I’m sure that a lot of fighters don’t want to face Vergil at this point,” said Gomez.
What Gomez isn’t saying is who Vergil would be challenging for a world title if he fought for one this year. Ortiz Jr is ranked #2 WBO and #8 WBC at 147.
Top Rank hasn’t shown any interest in letting WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford fight Vergil, and WBC champ Errol Spence Jr has already put together his four-fighter list that doesn’t include his. Spence wants to win his next four fights, and then move up to 154.
Gomez might say that Ortiz would have challenged for a world title this year, but that’s not true. None of the champions at 147 would have fought him because he has little to offer right now in terms of being a big name.
Golden Boy wants to make the best fights
“We want to make the best fights for our fighters, and if it means working with other promoters, we have no problems,” said Gomez. “We can work with anybody. We’ve done shows with PBC; we’ve done shows with Top Rank and with Matchroom.
“We have no problem, and we have an obligation to get the best fights possible for our fighters, and we’re always going to try. We’re not always successful because other promoters have their agenda, and they have their own plans for their fighters.
“But that’s not going to stop us from trying. We put some really great fights together with other promoters, and that’s the key. We’re going to continue to build the sport and do our part. Everyone has to work with each other.
“I know there are other promoters that don’t see it that way and don’t want to, but at Golden Boy, we’re willing to work with anybody,” said Gomez.
In some cases, Golden Boy doesn’t make the best fights. We saw that in Canelo’s matches against Rocky Fielding, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Sergey Kovalev, Alfredo Angulo, and James Kirkland. Those are just a few contests in which Golden Boy didn’t make the best fights.
Luke Campbell is the fight Ryan Garcia wants
“We did the same thing with Canelo Alvarez when he came to us at 18-years-old, and we’re doing the same thing with Ryan Garcia,” said Gomez. “This fight with Luke Campbell is a very good fight for him. It’s a fight that he wants.
“He’s been clamoring for better competition. So we’re excited about this fight. It’s going to be a good fight. We’re in negotiations with Eddie Hearn, and we hope to finalize something soon.
“It’s a really good fight, and I think the world is going to see how good Ryan Garcia really is. He’s got all the talent in the world. He’s at the same stage as Vergil Ortiz. Now, he’s taking a big step up against Luke Campbell. Luke Campbell is a very good fighter.
“One of the top fighters in the world, and he just happened to run into two fighters that are a little better than him in Linares and Lomachenko. But you can’t take anything away from him. He’s a gold medalist, and we’re all looking forward to that fight. It’s a very good fight,” continued Eric.
Golden Boy is letting Ryan Garcia take a big risk in facing Campbell in October or November. You can understand why Golden Boy is letting Ryan take the fight. He’s been bellyaching for ages about wanting to fight the top guys, and now he’s finally got his chance against the highly ranked #2 WBC Campbell.
If Ryan fails, then so does Golden Boy because they’re the ones that are in charge of his career. But you can understand why they’re letting Ryan take the fight because he’s been vocal about wanting the step up. It wouldn’t be good for Golden Boy to refuse to let Ryan take the step up. He would be bitter about it.
Jorge Linares vs. Javier Fortuna on Aug.28
“That’s a top fight, two top guys,” said Gomez on the Jorge Linares vs. Javier Fortuna fight on August 28.
“Obviously, Linares wants to prove that he still belongs and that he can still be a world champion, and I feel it’s one of those top fights that we talked about a little earlier in the lightweight division.
“Any one of those guys can emerge as a top fighter. Linares, he was on top of the world just a year and a half ago. That fight with Lomachenko was a great fight. He was ahead on two of the scorecards until he got stopped.
“He regrets that happening, and he wants to prove that he still belongs and prove that he can still compete at a very high level. With Fortuna, he’s going to get all he could handle. It’s going to be a very good fight, a very competitive even fight,” said Gomez.
Former three-division world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) and former WBA super featherweight champion Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24 KOs) will be fighting on August 28 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Linares and Fortuna are involved in a mini-tournament. It’s an unofficial tournament involving IBF 135-lb champion Teofimo Lopez, WBA/WBC/WBO champ Vasily Lomachenko, Luke Campbell, Ryan Garcia, and WBC champ Devin Haney. The Linares-Fortuna winner will likely continue to press forward for a title shot against Haney.
The 34-year-old Linares has an excellent chance of potentially winning the WBC title if he gets a shot before he gets much older. Fortuna, 32, is an excellent fighter, but he came apart against Robert Easter Jr in losing a 12 round decision in 2018. Fortuna was also involved in a weird fight in June 2018 against Adrian Granados.
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