Alexis Rocha can easily envision a day where a fight with Vergil Ortiz Jr. would become a necessity to determine welterweight supremacy.
For now, the two are among a healthy mix of young, hungry fighters in a division ripe for a changing of the guard and with plans of continuing to climb the ranks in 2023.
“We’re on our own separate paths for now,” Rocha told BoxingScene.com. “I got my fight (on Saturday) and he’s fighting for the [WBA ‘Regular’ welterweight] title next. We ain’t discussed fighting each other yet, but it might be inevitable. If the opportunity comes, sure we’ll discuss it.”
Rocha and Ortiz are both promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and due to headline DAZN shows within the first four months of the year.
Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) boasts the greater immediate opportunity of the two, as he will next face secondary WBA welterweight titlist Eimantas Stanionis (14-0, 10KOs). The two were due to meet March 18 in the greater Dallas area, only to be met with a postponement when Stanionis underwent an emergency appendectomy earlier this month.
A likely rescheduled date of April 29 is on the horizon, with Rocha banking on his promotional stablemate to prevail in a perceived dead-even fight.
“It’s a tough matchup. Stanionis is a live opponent and determined to win,” acknowledged Rocha. “I feel that Vergil should pull off the victory. It won’t be easy. It will be competitive in the early rounds but I think Vergil will overcome that and push past him to win that title.”
Rocha (22-1, 13KOs) hopes to have banked at least one win on the year by that point and on his own path to challenge for his first major title.
The 25-year-old southpaw headlines the first Golden Boy show of 2023 this weekend when he faces late replacement George Ashie (33-5-1, 25KOs) this Saturday at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California. With a win, Rocha is expected to emerge as the frontrunner to next challenge WBO welterweight titlist Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (39-0, 30KOs). Ranked ahead of him are Ortiz and former unified titlist Keith Thurman (30-1, 22KOs), the latter whom is poised to face WBA/WBC/IBF champ Errol Spence (28-0, 22KOs) later this spring but likely in a non-title fight above the welterweight limit.
Rocha hasn’t put much thought into his own title shot, as all focus is placed on first getting through this weekend. If a shot at Crawford or even Spence doesn’t materialize, he can easily envision a scenario where a fight with Ortiz comes to the forefront.
“Like I said, it’s nothing we really talked about but neither of us will have a problem if it comes to that,” admitted Rocha. “First, I have to get through [Saturday], and he has to get past Stanionis. We’ll see where it goes from there. Guys like us, like Boots (Jaron Ennis), who just won the [interim IBF] title, we’re the future of the division for sure.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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