Vergil Ortiz Jr. Reborn: Hungry, Confident, And Ready To Destroy
Vergil Ortiz Jr. is returning as a new fighter this Saturday night after a long layoff due to health problems, and he’s mentally prepared for his fight against Fredrick Lawson in a new weight class at junior middleweight.
Unlike his past weight cuts, this one has been effortless for the 25-year-old Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs), but, of course, it helps that he weighed in today at 156 lbs, which makes this a middleweight contest for him against Lawson (30-3, 22 KOs).
Ortiz Jr. had been struggling to make the 147-lb limit for the last three years, but he no longer needs to worry about that now that he’s moved up to 154. He says he plans on staying at this weight long enough to clean out the division before moving up to 160. We’ll see if that happens.
Ortiz Jr. is going to have to fight frequently to keep his weight down because as drained as he looked today, coming in at middleweight, he’s not going to make the 154-lb limit for long without it causing him similar health problems as it was for him when he was melting down to fight at 147.
Committed to cleaning out 154-lb division
“I’m hyped up. This is the best I’ve felt in a really long time,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr. to Fight Hub TV. I checked my weight every 45 minutes. I’m excited for everyone to see the fight. I know what I’ve been looking like, but no one else has seen. So. I’m excited for them.”
As much effort as Ortiz Jr. put into getting his weight right for this fight and still coming in two pounds over the 154-lb limit, this division might not be the answer for him. He might have to move up to 160 and hope that weight class will work for him.
Ortiz Jr. will likely look drained, making weight for middleweight as well because he’s a big guy and should be fighting in a division that is suited to his body. Unfortunately, Vergil Jr. is not like Devin Haney in being able to drain down huge amounts of weight without it impacting his health.
“I miss this. I miss doing the interviews. This wasn’t bad at all. I want to eat and drink, but that’s normal for a weight cut,” said Ortiz Jr. “Just rest, recover, and chill. I watch a little bit of film [of Fredrick Lawson]. He has about 45 seconds of film at the most. It’s not a lot. It doesn’t matter because once I’m in the ring, I make up my own stuff.
A robot with soul
“I have a plan, but I try to find a way to implement it, but in my own way,” said Ortiz Jr. “People fight other people differently. If you stick to one thing and try and force it, you have to improvise. I’m just like a robot in there. Flip a switch.”
Vergil Jr. shouldn’t have to worry too much about his fight with the 34-year-old Lawson because this isn’t one of the better fighters at 154, and he’ll likely steamroll him on Saturday.
Ortiz Jr. could have problems when he gets in with one of the talented junior middleweights like Tim Tszyu, Erickson Lubin, Brian Mendoza, and Terence Crawford.
Climbing the ladder
“I moved up in weight. It’s a nine-pound difference. It’s a big jump. 60 is definitely going to happen in the future, but that’s not happening right now. Yeah,” said Vergil Jr. when asked if he wanted to clean out the 154-lb division first before moving up to 160.
“It’s not up to me. If it was up to me, it would be one or two fights, but it’s not up to me,” Ortiz Jr. said about when he’ll make the move up to middleweight. “You got to worry about the politics. You got to worry about them wanting to fight. You got to worry about people agreeing on the purses and stuff,” said Ortiz.
It’s easier said than done for Ortiz Jr. to clean out the 154-lb division. Getting Jermell Charlo to agree to fight him might be impossible because he rarely fights anymore, and it could take years of waiting for the match to happen. Ortiz Jr. doesn’t have years to wait for a fight with Jermell.
“In a perfect world, two fights, but it’s most likely not going to happen that fast. I can’t give you an estimate. It’s not up to me. I’m hopeful, but I’m not going to sit here and wait for everyone. I’m going to do me,” said Vergil Jr. about fighters like him not being avoided now like they were in the past.
“I’m not going to say move up. Fight someone else. ‘You don’t want to fight? Alright, I’ll fight someone else. I think so. He don’t seem like that,” said Ortiz Jr. about his belief that WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu won’t avoid him. “Yeah, I want to do that [fight in Australia].”
Tszyu is the most logical option for Vergil Jr. at 154 because that guy isn’t afraid to fight anyone, and unlike Jermell, he stays active with his career. If Ortiz beats him, maybe Crawford or Errol Spence Jr. will want to fight him.
“It’s been a year and a half [since Ortiz Jr. last fought]. I’m just itching to get in that ring,” said Ortiz Jr. “This was the easiest weight cut of my life. My energy levels are through the roof. I was destroying the bag.”
As long as Ortiz Jr. doesn’t gas out or have some kind of physical breakdown on Saturday, he should be able to take care of Lawson without too many problems. We’ll have to see if his power has carried up to junior middleweight.
“Here, I only worked out twice. They weren’t hard workouts at all. I feel good. I’m ready to go,” said Ortiz Jr. I’m very prepared mentally and physically. I’m just going to go and do what I always do. I destroy people mentally. That’s my favorite part. Until I win. I’m not satisfied until I win.”
He says it was an easy weight cut, but he looks like it was a difficult one, especially with him coming in at 156. That’s two pounds over.