Vergil Ortiz Jr: This is the toughest fight of my career
By Jeff Henninger: Vergil Ortiz says tonight’s fight with former WBO 140-pound belt-holder Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker is the toughest fight of his career, the two battles in the main event on DAZN from the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ortiz (16-0, 16 KOs) needs a win to move him closer to a world title shot against one of the champions at 147. #2 WBO Ortiz Jr talks of wanting to take on WBO champion Terence Crawford only because that’s a fight that he’s in a better spot to get with his high ranking.
Hooker and his team are confident that they will win tonight and feel that Vergil, 22, made a mistake in taking this fight.
It’s quite possible that Ortiz could lose. He’s never fought anyone as talented as Hooker, and he may crumble when he gets a taste of his punching power tonight.
We know that Ortiz can dish out the punishment with both hands, but can he take it in return? He hasn’t fought anyone with Hooker’s power before, and you don’t like to see fighters get indoctrinated without some preliminary opponent.
Ortiz complains about being avoided
“That’s big respect to Mighty Mo, he didn’t have to take this fight. This is his first fight at 147,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr to All Access Elite Boxing. “They say it’s his second fight, but I think he fought at 144 or something like that. It doesn’t really count. This is his first fight at 147.
“It’s the hardest fight of my career,” said Vergil. “I’m not counting him out at all. I’m expecting him to be his best version of himself.
“A lot of people already don’t want to fight me. He wants to fight me, and that says a lot about him. I don’t want to say he has balls because that kind of makes me feel I’m giving myself a big head.
“But I definitely don’t feel like I’m going to need a challenge. I’m a fighter, I’m here, and I’m one of the best coming up. For him to take this fight, I’ve got to respect it.
“In order for him to take this fight, he feels confident that he can beat me, and that’s a real fight right there. It’s not one-sided at all, you don’t know who is going to win,” Ortiz said.
We don’t know who Golden Boy Promotions has been speaking to when setting up fights for Ortiz. If they’ve been aiming low, it’s not surprising that they’ve had problems getting an opponent for Vergil.
Vergil needs a world title
“As Oscar said, no one is lining up to fight to fight me,” said Vergil Ortiz to Fighthub. “I feel like I have to force my way into a mandatory. I know people aren’t going to want to fight me stylistically.
“They’re only going to want to fight me because I have a belt. That’s my main goal right there. Whatever fight gets me closer to get a belt, I’ll gladly take it.
“I don’t know,” said Ortiz when asked what it’s going to take for him to get a big fight. “I’ve got a perfect record with 16 wins with 16 knockouts. I really can’t get any more perfect than that. It’s going to be great with an excellent night of boxing,” said Ortiz.
If Vergil can get his hands on a world title, he’ll have no problems getting the big dogs to fight him in the 147-lb division. He should have no problems getting guys to fight him if he can dethrone Crawford, but that’s going to be easier said than done.
Likely, Ortiz won’t get a title shot until he becomes mandatory for Terence or one of the other champions.
Crawford has had issues getting the top echelon guys to fight him because he’s with Top Rank, fights on ESPN, and he’s a southpaw. Also, Crawford is a counter-puncher as well, and he’s not super popular.
Fighters too worried about protecting their records
“I feel that people are too worried about the money, and too worried about losing their O,” said Vergil. “You see it all the time.
“Once a fighter loses his O, now he wants to fight everyone. They lost their undefeated record, they don’t care. That’s really all there is.
“They feel like the longer they keep their O, the more money they’ll bring in.
“Obviously, it is important to get your fair share of the money because you worked hard all your life for it. I feel like people are scared of losing. You shouldn’t be scared of it.
“Critics keep you in your place, and motivate you to do better. It just depends on how you see it. Critics can be a good thing for the sport of boxing,” said Vergil.
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