Vergil Ortiz, Golden Boy Promotions’ blue-chip prospect
The “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” series kicks off this Thursday night from the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, and the main event features featherweight contender Joseph Diaz Jr. against Victor Terrazas. Also featured on this broadcast is junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz, 8-0 (8), who is paired with Jesus Rodriguez, 15-3 (11).
The 19-year-old Ortiz is trained by Joel Diaz (no stranger to world-class boxers), who is bullish on this young man’s future.
“Vergil Ortiz, everyday he surprises me, he’s a package put together,” said the noted trainer on Friday. “I can tell you this: Today he sparked a silver medalist, an Olympian from Uzbekistan, and you see what kind of a fighter Vergil Ortiz is. I’ve known Vergil since before he started his career and he’s improved day by day. Just watching him spar a silver medalist, and how composed he was and how he dominates opponents in that ring, man.
“You can see a big superstar in the making.”
Ortiz, who hails from the Dallas area, in Texas, made the decision, once he signed with Diaz to make the move to the Southern California desert, as he embarked on his professional career. He admits to being homesick, at times, but says, ”I’ve gotten over it already. I know that my work is here and I have friends here too. So I don’t get homesick that much but I do have family there and I like to see them but I see them all the time.”
His daily work comes at the Boys & Girls Club of Indio (where Diaz trains his stable of boxers) and it’s a no-frills gym with a spartan atmosphere. “I love it,”said Ortiz back in early January, when a media day was being held for his stablemate Lucas Matthysse, who, at the time, was preparing for his January 27 bout against Tewa Kiram.
Diaz believes Ortiz has a very high ceiling; just winning a world title in the future would be a case of him underachieving.
“Yes Sir, I think it would be a disappointment because this kid has a mentality of a champion already. He has the confidence; he steps in the ring knowing that he’s going to go in there and dominate, regardless of whatever you got, whatever you bring to the table. He’s very athletic, very smart. You try and play any kind of tricks on him and he’ll switch them on you. He impresses me everyday,” said Diaz, who has had Ortiz spar with “The Machine.”
They say power is God-given and it’s clear that he is blessed with set of heavy hands. When asked when he first really noticed his ability to thump, Ortiz recalled, “I knocked out somebody, like, two years ago in the amateurs. It’s hard to knock out somebody with 10-ounce gloves, with the headgear. I did it and I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that,’ but I did it.”
2018 is a year in which he’ll start to be moved up the ladder. Golden Boy is counting on him as one of its foundations for the future. Its matchmaker Robert Diaz tells UCNLive.com, “Vergil Ortiz is hot, young, loves what he does when he’s in the ring, big puncher, 8-0, eight knockouts. Let’s see how he looks and he’ll be seen a lot more on ESPN.”
As for how quickly he’ll be moved, Diaz states, “You move them as good as they look the previous fight.”
But it’s clear that Ortiz wants to be put in the fast lane.
“Oh yes,” he said, “I work hard and I believe I deserve it and I’ll be able to handle it.”
As for his upcoming year, Ortiz envisions, “Maybe getting like a small (regional) belt. I see me rising to stardom a little faster. They’ll be picking up the pace on who I fight, maybe a little harder opponents, but I’m ready for that.”
He has a real simple message for the fans: “I’m on my way. I’m on my way real quick, actually, to the top. I hope to give you some good fights and hope to stay here long.”
Should Diaz get past Terrazas, he should be in line for a title shot at WBC featherweight beltholder Gary Russell Jr.
Looking at Russell’s title reign, it’s shocking just how inactive he’s been since winning the belt by stopping Jhonny Gonzalez back in March of 2015. He then faced Patrick Hyland in April of 2016 and his last title defense was last May versus Oscar Escandon.
That’s two title defenses coming into his third year as a beltholder.
So what does Diaz have in mind for this upcoming year of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN?
“There’s three or four kids I’m going to move up faster than a lot of their peers, in the same stage of their careers,” said Diaz, who is constantly making fights on a daily basis. “Vergil Ortiz, Alexis Rocha, Ryan Garcia, and those kids have that amateur background to move a little quicker in the pros.”
You’ll hear from Brian Viloria and Robert Diaz on this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and Yours Truly. We talk all things boxing and, yes, Fergie’s rendition of the National Anthem.
Also on the undercard on Thursday are Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez, Manny Robles Jr., Edgar Valerio and Genaro Gamez…Ortiz is fighting for a junior NABF belt…The World Boxing Super Series has announced Nieky Holzken as Callum Smith’s opponent in this weeks 168-pound semifinal match-up as Juergen Braehmer fell ill…Former WBO middleweight beltholder Andy Lee announced his retirement on Tuesday. To me, he was a class act and his loyalty and dedication to his trainer/manager Emanuel Steward will be what I’ll always remember about him the most. (Lee always fought with Steward in mind)…Seriously, it’s kinda cold right now in Southern California. I mean, low-60s in the afternoon!…”Coach Kul” to Bama?! Say it ain’t so!…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.