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Vergil Ortiz Jr. returns as a junior middleweight against Fredrick Lawson on Jan. 6

Fighters Network

Vergil Ortiz, Jr. finally has his return date, but in a different weight class.

Ortiz will face Fredrick Lawson on January 6, Golden Boy Promotions officially announced Thursday afternoon. The 12-round bout will take place inside The Theatre at The Virgins Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight will stream live on DAZN.

The January 6 fight will mark Ortiz’s first fight in almost a year and a half. The fight against Lawson will mark his debut as a junior middleweight.

“Vergil is ready to come back stronger than ever to become a world champion in this sport,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “He’s got the heart and dedication, and is on a mission to be a world titleholder. I know he will make a statement in this new division against the powerful Ghanaian warrior (in) Fredrick Lawson. Golden Boy will be starting 2024 with a bang, and we’re proud to have Vergil launch our action-packed boxing schedule for the year.”

Ortiz (19-0, 19 knockouts), who resides in Grand Prairie, Texas, was scheduled to face Eimantas Stanionis on multiple occasions earlier this year in what would have been a compelling clash of unbeaten welterweight contenders. Stanionis owns a WBA secondary world title belt not recognized by The Ring.

Both were scheduled to square off on March 18, but the fight was postponed after Stanionis underwent an emergency appendectomy in January. An April 29 date was secured, but this time Ortiz had to withdraw weeks before due to a recurrence of rhabdomyolysis, which also postponed a clash between Ortiz and Michael McKinson in March of last year.

July 8 marked the third attempt for the Ortiz-Stanionis fight to take place, but the fight was again postponed after Ortiz had to pull out of the fight a few days prior. There were reports that Ortiz had fainted and collapsed during fight week or if rhabdomyolysis played a part again in the cancellation of the fight.

After discussing with his team, Ortiz felt the best step moving forward was to move up to 154 pounds. He hopes to put on a show and make a run at a world title belt in a new weight class.

“Headlining my first card in Las Vegas after over a year of inactivity is just what I needed,” said Ortiz. “I am very motivated to put on a great show like I always do, and to show everyone that I’m still here.”

Lawson (30-3, 22 KOs), who is originally from Accra, Ghana and now resides in Chicago, Illinois, defeated Estevan Villalobos in his last fight on the same April 29 card that Ortiz-Stanionis was to take place.

The 34-year-old has won three of his last four fights since a decision loss to Juan Ruiz in March 2019. Lawson is eager to pull off the upset win over Ortiz.

“I treasure this opportunity that Golden Boy presented me with, and as much as I respect Vergil Ortiz, this Ghanaian Warrior will get his hand raised on January 6,” said Lawson.

“I look forward to fighting on DAZN again, now the premier outfit for boxing throughout the world. Thank you to Oscar De La Hoya and my manager Jacob Zwennes for making this great fight. Boxing fans will really like this fight because both Ortiz and I are action fighters.”


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