Somewhere in Southern California lies the famous RGBA gym, where Robert Garcia breeds future world champions in the sport of boxing.
The location is known by and large only to insiders.
One of his young fighters, named Vergil Ortiz Jr. (12-0), will look to continue his twelve-fight knockout streak against the crafty but near the finish line Mauricio Herrera (age 38; 24-8) on the Canelo vs Jacobs undercard in Las Vegas.
This will be the most experienced fighter that he has faced to date, which will give us media and fans an idea of where Vergil Ortiz Jr. is with his progression as a fighter. Before we get into that fight, let’s quickly recap how Vergil Ortiz Jr. got here.
Ortiz Jr. like any other fighter, rose from the club show ranks to get himself in the position he is currently, in which he is the co-main event to one of the biggest fights of the year.
It was September 2017, when I first saw him on the off pay per view undercards against Cesar Valenzuela. It was a vicious left hook to the body that sent Venezuela down for the 10 count, which led to the end of the fight. You could tell right away that there was something about Ortiz Jr. that required more attention in fights to come.
Ortiz Jr. continued to impress at club shows with knockout victories in Mexico and in the now famous Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. His introduction to the world at the Belasco Theater, which was televised by ESPN, raised his profile considerably. The ESPN performance in June 2018 was the one that really drove it from whispers to chatter amongst boxing media and fans. Ortiz Jr. was rewarded by being booked on the Canelo vs GGG II undercard this past September.
After an impressive outing there, Oscar De La Hoya continued to use social Media accounts to let everyone know that Vergil Ortiz Jr. is the “next” guy on the rise. Ortiz Jr. was then put in with a tough and slick veteran southpaw Jesus Valdez in Houston, who gave him a few learning lessons before getting knocked out in the fifth round.
On Saturday night, Ortiz Jr. will be facing Herrera, who has been in the ring with the likes of Sadam Ali, Jesus Soto Karass, Danny Garcia and Pablo Cesar Cano just to name a few. Initially, the Ortiz Jr vs Herrera fight was going to be part of the opening telecast of the DAZN stream but a late injury to David Lemiuex forced GBP to look at their other options to replace that fight with and with little hesitation, they placed the Ortiz Jr. fight as the co-main event.
Herrera is a slick fighter who always tends to play spoiler for most well laid plans when it comes to up and coming fighters, former champions and current champions. Herrera will not make it easy for the young Ortiz Jr. and will test him early before really implementing his game plan. Herrera has a solid chin on him so it will be interesting to see the Plan B and C if Plan A doesn’t work for the young Ortiz Jr. immediately.
There is a lot to like about Vergil Ortiz Jr. but the question will be whether he can “level up” this weekend with a guy who is a master at making fighters look bad when they aren’t supposed to. Make sure you’re tuned in to this fight on Saturday night live on DAZN…. and quite possibly you will witness a star being born.