Sunday, June 11, 2023  |


Vergil Ortiz derives confidence from trainer Robert Garcia entering the Samuel Vargas fight

Vergil Ortiz Jr.
Fighters Network

Vergil Ortiz can attribute his career success thus far to trainer Robert Garcia. If there is a close second, that would have to go to WBC/WBO junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez.

Not only does Ortiz and Ramirez have brutal sparring sessions, sometimes prompting Garcia to intervene, but the training habits of Ramirez have rubbed off on the hard-hitting welterweight.

“(Ramirez) is the most hard-working fighter I’ve seen,” quipped Ortiz.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 knockouts) will attempt to remain unbeaten Friday night against Samuel Vargas at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. The 12-round bout will headline a DAZN stream (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).

The Ortiz-Vargas fight will be Golden Boy Promotions’ first fight card since early March. Ortiz was originally scheduled to face Vargas on March 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, but the fight was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Ortiz, the Vargas fight could not have come any sooner. His last fight took place on December 13, also in Indio, knocking out former contender Brad Solomon in the fifth. The fight culminated four fights in 2019, including impressive knockout victories over former world title challengers Antonio Orozco and Mauricio Herrera.

“I just tried to remain positive after the fight was postponed,” Ortiz told The Ring. “COVID-19 is real and we had to take it seriously. We still do. As much as I really wanted to get in the ring, I was staying ready in the gym. Golden Boy is taking all the precautions to make the show on (Friday) safe and for everything to be okay.”

Ortiz, who turned 22 on March 25, will face a fighter in Vargas who has lost to some of the best welterweights in boxing today, including Errol Spence, Danny Garcia, and Amir Khan. Ortiz is a significant favorite to knock out Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs).

As much as he enjoys scoring highlight-reel knockout victories, Ortiz is not going to change the game-plan.

“It’s not like I don’t care about knockouts, but I’m more satisfied with looking good or being at my best in each fight,” said Ortiz, who grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, a Dallas suburb. “When you start focusing on the knockout, you don’t look good. I focus on the right things and let the knockout come naturally. I’m not impressed if I stop someone early. I’m more impressed with the progress I make in each fight and how I handle each step-up Golden Boy puts in front of me.”

Ortiz is trained by Robert Garcia in Riverside, California. On any given day, Ortiz can spar the likes of Ramirez, Mikey Garcia or any of the assorted world-class fighters trained by Garcia.

Ramirez and Ortiz have sparred regularly. Ortiz admits neither fighter holds back, but it is the demeanor and the way Ramirez carries himself that Ortiz respects.

“What Jose does, he commits 100 percent to it,” Ortiz said. “He has kids and a family and he grew up just like me. I know he had it harder because of what his parents did, working in the (agricultural) fields (in California’s Central Valley).

“The effort he puts in the gym rubs off on you. It just goes to show you that anything is possible.”

Ortiz also credits Garcia’s training and wisdom. Whether it is listening to instructions in the gym or during a fight, Ortiz soaks up as much as possible.

“I gain a lot of confidence just by listening to Robert,” he said. “He knows what he’s doing. In any situation or in any fight, he knows what he is doing. Watching on TV or in person what he does with other fighters just makes me glad I am trained by him.

“Just like in the Joshua Franco fight (last month against Andrew Moloney), I was getting pumped just by watching the fight.”

An impressive victory over Vargas could lead to a significant fight later this year or in early 2021. Despite all the boxing politics, Ortiz believes a fight could be made against welterweights who are promoted by Top Rank, Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), or other promoters.

Ortiz hopes his improving skill-set compliments his devastating punching power.

“It’s up to my team who I fight next, but I believe I can fight any of the top fighters at 147 pounds,” he said. “Give me any champion or top welterweight and I’ll be ready.

“There’s no reason to think why fights can’t be made between the best fighters in the division. I want to be the next top welterweight. I want to prove I’m the best in the division. I’m not scared to face any world champion.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing



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