Vergil Ortiz wants to be be first to stop Mauricio Herrera on Alvarez-Jacobs card
Rising prospect Vergil Ortiz is no stranger to big stages, having appeared on four Canelo Alvarez undercards in Las Vegas and most recently appearing on a Jaime Munguia card in Houston. This time is different: his bout against Mauricio Herrera will be the co-feature to the Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs middleweight championship unification bout this Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old Ortiz (12-0, 12 knockouts) knows this could be a high risk but low reward opportunity because Herrera (24-8, 7 KOs) is 38 and coming off a unanimous decision loss to Sadam Ali last December on another Alvarez card. Ortiz had been slated to appear on that card too before the New York State Athletic Commission ruled Ortiz could not fight because of a laser eye surgery procedure Ortiz had.
“These are the fights I need to really make a statement,” said Ortiz. “And if I do knock him out – someone who has never been stopped – I know this will put my career in a great place.”
Ortiz is his harshest critic as evidenced by his las bout when he stopped Jesus Valdez Barrayan in five rounds and immediately said he was not happy with his performance.
“There was a lot going on at that time,” Ortiz recalls. “It all started with not being allowed to fight in New York. I was really looking forward to it. Then I went back home and put the weight back on and got a call do I want to fight in three weeks in Houston. I barely had time to train, I just used the time to get the weight off. I didn’t even know my opponent was a southpaw until the weigh-in.”
Ortiz, who is from Dallas, said the experience taught him as much about life as it did about boxing and business.
“It was definitely a wake up call,” Ortiz said. “It just shows that you need to be ready for anything and in life anything can happen. It’s a part of growing up and it helped me grow as a person.”
Ortiz said he won’t go looking for the knockout at first but if he sees that Herrera is hurt he knows he has to try to put him away.
“I guess it’s like my trademark now,” Ortiz said. “People want to watch to see if I can knock the guy out and if I knock Herrera out then it’s big and if I lose the fight then people can say maybe I am not at the level I think I am at.”
Ortiz, who has fought his first twelve bouts at 140, will move to 147 to take on Herrera but believes he will come right back down to 140 afterwards.
“I can still make 140 but at least I can spend less time losing weight and more time training and sparring,” Ortiz said. “I usually spar guys who are 160 so I think Herrera will be surprised when he feels my power.”
Ortiz promoter Oscar De La Hoya believes enough in Ortiz to elevate him to the co-feature bout when the original slot belonging to David Lemieux became available after Lemieux came down with an injury.
“If Vergil goes in there trying to knock Herrera out then Vergil can have a long night,” De La Hoya said. “Herrera is no push over. He is not coming for a paycheck. Herrera knows this is an opportunity to get back in the mix for a title shot. I am excited about this fight and everyone at Golden Boy is excited about Vergil but in order for Vergil to win Vergil just has to be Vergil.”