Vergil Ortiz Jr looked like he was fixing to end it in round four at the Fantasy Spring Casino in Indio, California Friday evening, and on DAZN, as Samuel Vargas‘ reflexes started to dim. Vargas plowed on, though, showing a too-solid chin and a great big heart, but he was eating too many clean shots in round seven. At the very end of the seventh, ref Jack Reiss pulled the plug on Vargas. He basically saved the vet from himself, because he was too damn tough for his own good.
This was the first time any Vergil opponent went past six, for the record.
Golden Boy promoted the show, and they’d hyped it coming in by announcing that they see VOJ as “the future of boxing.” And VOJ looked damned good, but, frankly, he was expected to finish off Vargas before the late innings. The end came at 2:58, round seven, officially.
Vergil, out of Grand Prairie, Texas, brought a 15-0 (15 KOs; 147 pounds on the dot) record to the ring. Foe Vargas (146.6 pounds), from Colombia, and living in Canada, came to the building with a 31-5-2 mark. The event marked the first time DAZN had shown live fare in five months, so fight callers Todd Grisham and Sergio Mora exhibited ample energy, clearly pleased to be back on the call.
Trainer Robert Garcia didn’t come ringside, because he tested COVID positive, and then took another test, which was negative, but the Cali commission on Friday afternoon told him to stay away and have someone else corner Ortiz. Vergil Ortiz Sr did the job and everything seemed to proceed smoothly despite the late change of plans.
In the first, the 22 year old VOJ came out hard and fast. His jab was on point, quick and nasty. In round two, he took a foot a bit off the gas. In the third, more nastiness from VOJ. And in the fourth, Vargas wasn’t able to slip as well. His nose got bloodied, and he kept yapping at the Texan even as he kept taking clean shots. But how much longer would he be able to take the those crisp welterweight launches?
Vargas actually had a good fifth but Vergil wasn’t slowing down. His stamina looked on point, so if he had trouble making weight, it didn’t show up during the clash. In the sixth, Vargas barked at Vergil, telling him to keep on hurling.
You saw Reiss leaning in, looking hard, during the seventh, and thought maybe trainer Bones Adams would pull Vargas after the seventh. But Reiss saved him the trouble. Vergil went 154-318, according to CompuBox, to 44-243 for the loser.
After the win, Vergil said he didn’t really notice that no fans were in the barn. The victor said he wasn’t sure how Vargas didn’t go down, being that he smashed him to the body so often. The winner gave himself a B plus. “I give huge props to him,” said Vergil, of Vargas, who did indeed earn every cent of his purse, for his willingness to endure.
And analyst Sergio Mora said VOJ is ready for Errol Spence. Vergil himself said he’d be fine with fighting Keith Thurman, or Danny Garcia. “I’m not here to take the easy fights, I’m content to be in the hardest division in boxing,” he said.
He came off as confident, not cocky, when he told watchers that yes, he believes he’s really excelled to this point, and he likes what he’s doing, at age 22. He said his hands took punishment, bouncing off the head of Vargas, and once those bones get rested, he’d like to glove up again.
Mora said hell yeah, bring on Danny Garcia for Vergil. Of course, hardcore fans know that politics will play in, and right now, the risk-reward ratio for a Spence, Thurman, and Garcia isn’t likely to lure them to the table and test Vergil. Yordenis Ugas, maybe that fight could be made, the Snake said.
My Three Cents: All in all, pretty decent main event during the pandemic era. You saw a future star, he got tested just enough, and he got the stoppage, so you received that pound of flesh climax you crave.
—Also, massive class shown by Vergil shouting out the late Travell Mazion, who perished in a car crash on July 15. The prospect would have turned 25 on Friday. Vergil had “Travell Black Magic” stitched on his trunks (see above, in Tom Hogan photo.)