The Welterweight division is blessed with a flurry of some of the most talented, pound-for-pound fighters in the world. The unbeaten world champions Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford, a three-weight world champion, are on a collision course to meet in one of the most lucrative and intriguing fights of their generation, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Manny Pacquiao continues to prove that age is just a number, as the 40-year-old, eight-weight world champion shows no signs of relenting and is gliding like a man half his age.
The Filipino great beat Keith Thurman in a thrilling fight to claim the WBA ‘Regular’ title, whilst Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia remain in the hunt at the very elite level.
It’s a division full of killers and a young, hungry and unbeaten Texan, Vergil Ortiz Jr is rapidly joining that category.
The 22-year-old, a stellar amateur who picked up seven national titles and won the 2013 Youth Olympics is a rising star, blitzing through his opponents and calling out the biggest and best names in his weight class.
Ortiz Jr has raced to 15 straight victories, all by knockout and in his early career has shown frightening, one-punch knockout power and polished fundamentals for a fighter than only turned 22 yesterday.
The Dallas native is razor-sharp out of the blocks and has only been six rounds once, dispatching 12 of his opening 15 opponents inside three frames, including six first round knockouts.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding Ortiz, who was named 2019 Ring Magazine prospect and with good measure too.
His breakthrough has been nothing short of exceptional, with arguably his biggest wins coming against former world title challengers, Mauricio Herrera and Antonio Orozco, who were both stopped inside six rounds, with the latter having lost on a unanimous decision to world Super-Lightweight champion, Jose Ramirez.
The 147lb contender is signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, the same promotional stable which has seen fellow unbeaten compatriot Ryan Garcia rise from hotly-touted prospect to a serious contender at 135lbs, where he stands on the brink of possible fights with the likes of Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko to name a few.
Ortiz has already made his intentions clear on a fight with former unified world champion Keith Thurman in 2020, whilst also citing former two-weight world titlist Danny Garcia as a target this year.
Perhaps slightly too early and a huge risk, but his promoter has backed his charge to defeat these long-recognised champions.
Under the tutelage of the experienced Robert Garcia, brother and trainer to four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia, Ortiz will only improve in the coming years, barring injuries and whilst it would be sensible to gain some more experience before he steps in with some of the names he’s called to face, who have had several championship bouts between them and are throughly tested at world level, it seems it’s sooner rather than later that the American launches a full-blown assault on the world scene.
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Moreover, with youth on his side, he may prove a handful for some of the current crop who are advancing into their thirties, but patience will be the key and more stiff tests, with those on the fringes of world level could be the next step.
Nonetheless, his talent and potential is undoubted, if not still raw, but reason enough in itself to be enthused.