It's been awhile seen we've seen Vergil Ortiz, who faces Fredrick Lawson this Saturday night. The last time the highly touted boxer-puncher from Grand Prairie, Texas, was in action came in August of 2022 when he halted Micheal McKinson in nine rounds. Last year he was dormant as his body once again shut down, and a summer bout was scuttled.
Back in July he was scheduled to face fellow undefeated welterweight contender, Eimantas Stanionis, in what a pivotal fight in the division. But a couple of days before that fight was to take place, the event in San Antonio was canceled as Ortiz reportedly had a fainting spell that Wednesday.
Before that, he had been battling the effects of rhabdomyolysis which had caused a cancellation of a prior bout. There was a time not-too-long ago that Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) was considered one of the rising stars in boxing. He had solid all-around skills, and possessed a fan-friendly style, in a money division. He was one of the foundational pieces of the Golden Boy Promotions stable.
He was dubbed by this scribe as 'Low Maintenance' because unlike some of their other clients, he didn't really bring much in terms of out-of-the ring drama, or hassles. All he did time and time again was put on strong, entertaining performances.
Golden Boy Promotions
But what's that old phrase? The best ability is availability. And quite frankly, he hasn't been very available the past year-and-a-half, and certainly not all that reliable. The hope is that that he will be able to make it to the dance this weekend at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, where he is scheduled to headline a card that will be broadcast on DAZN.
Ortiz comes into this fight now as a junior middleweight. The decision -- which had to be a fairly easy one -- was made to move him up to 154. Although I'm told that this particular contest will be a couple of pounds above that weight class. A catch-weight of 156 has been instituted for this bout. Hey, better safe than sorry, right?
But he also will come into this contest with a new/old trainer. In his corner will be Robert Garcia, who was the trainer after Joel Diaz, and before Manuel Robles. So this will be his second go-around with Ortiz. They reunited a couple of months ago, and he prepared for this bout at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, California.
Golden Boy Promotions
In Lawson (30-3, 22 KOs), he's facing a 34-year old veteran who been around the boxing block. He has decent record, but upon further inspection you see that he's a career welterweight, who's been stopped in all his defeats. This is designed for Ortiz to get some rounds, and then eventually score a KO. Hopefully, looking good in the process.
Time is still on Ortiz's side. He's just 25 years old, still theoretically in his physical prime. Although there are concerns about what version of him exists after his bout with rhabdomyolysis(which can cause permanent damage) and not having seen live action for an extended period of time.
He's still young, but can he be the Vergil of old?
It was announced by Top Rank on Thursday morning that on February 8(which is the Thursday of Super Bowl) week that junior welterweight champion, Teofimo Lopez, would be facing Jamaine Ortiz at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The co-feature on this card will have Keyshawn Davis squaring off against former two-time champion, Jose Pedraza.
“Teofimo Lopez is among the best fighters in the world and always wants to fight the best available opponent. Jamaine Ortiz is a supreme talent who fits the bill,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “I believe Keyshawn Davis is a future world champion, but you can never count out a skilled two-weight world champion like Jose Pedraza. What a fantastic doubleheader for the fans watching on ESPN and at Michelob ULTRA Arena.”
In a somewhat related note, Dan Rafael, has reported that former unified junior welterweight champion, Jose Ramirez, had turned down that assignment with Lopez, and is now under the Golden Boy Promotions banner.
Ramirez(28-1, 18 KOs) had spent his whole career with Top Rank after representing the United States in the 2012 Olympics. It was a successful run that saw him capture both the WBO and WBC 140-pound titles, and became a pretty good draw in Fresno.
Ohara Davies-Ismael Barroso is the co-feature on DAZN on Saturday.... Also Arnold Barboza Jr. -- another former Top Rank boxer -- is also on this card....Abdullah Mason and Javier Martinez will be part of the card on February 8....the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and myself will make it's 2024 debut next week....So who wins, Michigan or Washington?....I can be reached at email@example.com....