Vergil Ortiz Jr. all set for Brad Soloman: ‘I want to be a complete fighter. I want to be the best’
Vergil Ortiz Jr. recently told The Ring’s Cynthia Conte that he’d like to fight former WBA welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman.
That is a bold statement considering he has yet to fight past the sixth round and only has 14 fights as a pro. Ortiz, however, is not just any other fighter.
The unbeaten prospect has decimated the opposition thus far but will face his toughest test to date on Friday when he takes on Brad Solomon at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
At Thursday’s weigh-in, Ortiz (14-0, 14 knockouts) initially weighed in one pound over at 148 pounds. He would return within the two-hour allotted time period at 147. Solomon (28-1, 9 KOs) weighed in at 146.8 pounds.
Ortiz last fought on Aug. 10, when he battered and stopped former junior welterweight title challenger Antonio Orozco. Prior to that, the 21-year-old, who is trained by Robert Garcia, scored a devastating third-round knockout victory over former contender Mauricio Herrera on May 4.
It has all looked rather easy for Ortiz, but he credits sparring the likes of former four-weight world ruler Mikey Garcia and WBC/ WBO 140-pound titleholder Jose Ramirez in Riverside, California.
“Sparring world champions has been an experience in itself,” Ortiz told The Ring. “It rubs off on you. You see what they go through in the gym and you take in what they know. Everyone gives me advice. It’s really a privilege. When I spar, I want to be as competitive as I can be. They keep challenging me, but I want to challenge myself because there’s no telling how much I can improve.”
Ortiz should be in for a stiff challenge on Friday as he’s in against a slick fighter who can box and counterpunch. With that said, Solomon has not fought since April of last year, when he overcame a knockdown in the opening round to claim a split decision win over Paddy Gallagher. Solomon has averaged just one bout a year since suffering his first loss to Konstantin Ponomarev in April 2016.
But despite being the betting favorite, Ortiz understands the challenge and is not looking for a quick knockout.
“I’m excited to take this step-up in opposition,” said Ortiz, who made his pro debut in July 2016. “I understand that I have to build my experience against guys like Solomon. I know he’s a slick fighter who moves a lot and tries to make opponents miss. We want to see how we do against these types of fighters.”
An impressive victory over Solomon could validate some of the recent comments made by promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who stated that Ortiz is the best prospect under the Golden Boy Promotions banner. “Oscar’s words really motivate me,” said the eager young pro. “I just want to work harder. His words mean a lot to me.”
Ortiz puts his recent success down to trainer Robert Garcia, who he has worked with since May of last year.
“Robert’s guidance and experience has benefitted me a lot,” Ortiz said. “He has seen it all. I trust him and he has been a great addition to my team, which includes my father (Vergil, Sr.) and coach Hector Beltran.”
“I want to improve on my strength and learn from my mistakes. I want to be a complete fighter. I want to be the best.”
Also on the card:
Alberto Machado (21-2, 17 KOs) of Puerto Rico, who is coming off back-to-back losses against Andrew Cancio, will make his lightweight debut against Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (14-1, 7 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
Hard-hitting Bektemir Melikuziev (3-0, 3 KOs), who is originally from Uzbekistan and now resides in Indio, will face Vaughn Alexander (15-3, 9 KOs) of St. Louis, Missouri in a 10-round super middleweight bout.
Welterweight prospect Alexis Rocha (14-0, 9 KOs) will face Roberto Valenzuela (17-1, 16 KOs) of Agua Prieta, Mexico in a 10-round bout. Rocha, who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Ana, is the younger brother of junior featherweight contender Ronny Rios.