The most common reaction to Vergil Ortiz Jr. calling out Terence Crawford for his next fight is that it is too ambitious of a move.
On the other side of the equation is the desire for the unbeaten Texan to win his first major title at welterweight before outgrowing the division.
“We want him to become a world champion at 147 before he moves up,” Robert Garcia, Ortiz’s head trainer told BoxingScene.com. “Hopefully we get that, if not by the end of this year than no later than his first fight of 2022.”
Ortiz (17-0, 17KOs) conquered his most established opponent to date, scoring a 7th round knockout of former junior welterweight titlist Maurice Hooker (27-2-3, 18KOs). The battle of all-Dallas welterweights took place last month in front of a sold-out crowd at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Ortiz endured difficult moments early before scoring knockdowns late in round six and early in round seven. The latter of the two produced the end of the fight, with Hooker suffering what was since diagnosed as a broken right hand.
After the fight, Ortiz made a point to call out Crawford (37-0, 28KOs), the reigning WBO welterweight titlist who was ringside in support of Hooker as his training stablemate. Crawford suggested that Ortiz—who turns 23 on Thursday—further develop his skills before chasing such a big fight.
Ortiz’s immediate team—which includes Garcia, career-long promoter Golden Boy Promotions and managerial conglomerate MTK Global—senses that time is of the essence. There is also the confidence that the young gun can claim a belt no matter whom he first faces, with the preference to remain at welterweight long enough to win that first title before making the eventual move up the scale.
“We sense that he will eventually be at 154, maybe sooner rather than later,” admits Garcia.
One division is where Ortiz previously told BoxingScene.com that he envisions an all-Dallas superlight with current unified WBC/IBF Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs). His team hopes for the rising contender to have his cake-and-eat-it-too moment in collecting both scalps at separate weights.
“It would be insane to beat Terence Crawford at 147 and Errol Spence at 154,” acknowledges Garcia. “Those are the goals for us, to face all of the best and beat them to become a multi-division world champion.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox