After a banner year in 2021 in which Vergil Ortiz Jr. first beat former world champion Maurice Hooker and followed it up by besting Egidijus Kavaliauskas, the knockout artist’s 2022 campaign got off to a rocky start.
Ortiz (18-0, 18 KOs) was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis during fight week in March and was forced to pull out of his scheduled bout against British challenger Michael McKinson (22-0, 2 KOs).
Ortiz and McKinson are scheduled to square off once again Aug. 6 at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas on DAZN.
The 24-year-old said he’s ready to resume his career after suffering a hospitalization while preparing to fight.
“I’m back. I’m better. I’m stronger. I’m more than happy and excited to be back in the ring,” Ortiz told BoxingScene.com and other media during a recent conference call.
“We just made some changes here and there. Not too much. Overall, I’m 100% now, we’re ready to go and do what we do best. I really want to get back in the ring now. By the time I fight in August, it’ll be almost a whole year.”
Ortiz will have quite a few elements to overcome come fight night, including potential ring rust in what will be the longest layoff of his career, potential ramifications from his health scare, as well as getting comfortable with new trainer Manny Robles after splitting from long-time coach Robert Garcia.
Ortiz’s bout against McKinson will mark the first time he will enter the ring being guided by Robles, who is helping train Ortiz in addition to Vergil Sr. and coach Hector Beltran.
The No. 1-ranked welterweight contender by the WBC, WBA, and WBO believes his bout with rhabdomyolysis is behind him.
“I don’t think it should have any impact on my performance at all. I’ve been training and doing really good in sparring,” said Ortiz.
“I would love to fight twice this year and would love to stay even busier the following year.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.