Vergil Ortiz Jr. looked across the ring on Saturday night and saw one of boxing’s bureaucratic speed houses.
For Ortiz to get close to a crack at a legitimate boxing championship, he first had to defeat Michael McKinson, who was modestly ranked by a couple of the sport’s sanctioning bodies.
It will take more than speed to slow down Ortiz.
Ortiz extended his strong start to the year and won by technical decision with a ninth-round stoppage at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. And with his 19th knockout in as many fights, Ortiz showed why he’s one of the best welterweight contenders in the world — even if he didn’t feel like he was the best.
“The first seven rounds, I didn’t really do anything good,” Ortiz said in the post-fight interview with DAZN. “I had to adjust a lot. I should have listened to my corner from the beginning. But I listened and we did it.”
Ortiz and McKinson were initially scheduled to fight in March. The fight was postponed when Ortiz was hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis.
Saturday’s bout, just a few miles away from Ortiz’s hometown of Grand Prairie, was considered a WBA eliminator. Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) will certainly maintain his status as the No. 1 contender of the WBO and WBA in the 147-pound division.
But McKinson (22-1, 2 KOs) proved to be a tough opponent. He was slippery around the outside of the ring and roughed Ortiz up inside as well.
Finally, the whole body angle Ortiz asked for at the beginning of the fight manifested itself and paid dividends. In the final 30 seconds of the eighth round, Ortiz dropped the British fighter with a left hook to the body. McKinson went down in similar fashion at the start of the ninth round.
After he limped around the ring, his corner jumped to the top of the apron and threw in the towel.
Ortiz said his father, Vergil Ortiz Sr., yelled at him for three rounds for not following the game plan for the fight. The 24-year-old’s stubbornness eventually gave way to sound advice.
“You think you know everything, and you don’t,” Ortiz Jr. said.
A path to a title remains difficult given the landscape within the welterweight division. Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, who was ringside on Saturday, hold all four major belts and are in negotiations for a possible undisputed title fight. In his post-fight interview with DAZN, Ortiz acknowledged that securing a title shot soon will be difficult given that upcoming matchup.
But when it comes to facing someone else, he will fight, whoever that opponent is.
“As long as they’re involved with my path to a world title, I don’t care,” Ortiz Jr. said.
In the co-main event, Marlen Esparza successfully defended her WBA and WBC flyweight titles against Eva Guzman. Esparza controlled a high-profile fight and won a unanimous decision 98-92, 98-92, 99-92.
Esparza (13-1, 1 KO) won her sixth fight in a row since her loss to current champion Seniesa Estrada in November 2019. Guzman (19-2-1, 11 KO), mandatory challenger made her US debut.”