Vergil Ortiz Jr (17-0, 17 KO) put in a memorable performance with his seventh-round knockout wins against Maurice Hooker (27-2-3, 18 KOs) on Saturday night and then called out Terence Crawford immediately after.
Vergil is hoping that he’ll get an opportunity to challenge Crawford for his WBO welterweight title or IBF/WBC champion Errol Spence Jr. Both were present last night to watch Vergil take on Hooker.
It’s fair to say that Spence and Crawford wouldn’t have been there if they weren’t intrigued by the idea of facing the young 22-year-old Vergil.
With the amount of fan excitement present last night for Ortiz’s fight with Hooker, why wouldn’t they want to be a part of that by facing Vergil?
Ortiz went to war with former WBO light welterweight champion Hooker and chopped him down with knockdowns in rounds six and seven at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
Hooker, 31, hurt his right hand in the seventh and couldn’t continue. Vergil maintains that he would have stopped him anyway, and he’s probably right.
What we saw from the 22-year-old a fight that was more exciting than anything we’ve seen from Canelo Alvarez in years.
Indeed, even in Canelo’s two fights with Gennady Golovkin and his match with Miguel Cotto, he didn’t entertain the way Vergil Ortiz did.
If Ortiz can beat Crawford to win his WBO belt, he could see his popularity go through the roof. With Vergil’s entertaining style of fighting, he could be the next star in the 147-lb division.
Vergil wants Crawford to fight
“I’ve been telling everyone I’m the real deal, and I want to fight the best and look what I can do with the best,” said Vergil Ortiz to Fighthub after his win over Hooker.
“At first, I went for the head, and I thought it was going to be a headshot that was going to do it. But he’s smarter than that. That’s when I started investing to the body.
“I didn’t say much to him. I said, ‘If you give me the opportunity, I’m more than willing to fight,’” said Ortiz about what his message was to Terence Crawford.
“I meant it. I want anyone next that will give me the opportunity.
“It didn’t get to my head, but it definitely made me stronger,” said Vergil about the fans.
“He [Crawford] went into my locker room, but he didn’t say anything. I don’t think I can take him out. If we do fight, it’ll probably go the distance in a very competitive fight.
Let’s make the fight happen; I’m more than ready. There’s no one willing to fight him. I’m right here—any of those fights.
“I just want to be the best. I really want to unify all the belts in the welterweight division. I don’t care who I have to go through,” said Ortiz Jr.
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) doesn’t have a fight scheduled yet, even though his promoter Bob Arum has said recently that he’s trying to set up a fight with Manny Pacquiao.
If the rumors of Crawford possibly facing Josesito Lopez next are true, Ortiz is out of luck.
But that would be an insane fight for Crawford to make because there would be no interest from fans to watch that mismatch.
Hooker was falling apart
“I could definitely feel the difference between fighting with no fans and fighting with fans,” said Vergil Jr. “I could tell the first time when I dropped him [in the sixth] that he didn’t want to get back up.
“He was already demoralized. He couldn’t get back up after the second one. He did get injured, but I felt like I was going to stop him anyway.
“To be honest, I should have done it from the beginning [going to the body], but in the end, it all worked out.
“What did I say to Hooker? I just said, ‘Thank you for the opportunity.’ As I said, he didn’t have to fight me, and he did.
“I have no animosity towards him at all. He’s a good dude; he’s a good guy.
“There’s always room for improvement no matter what I do. It doesn’t matter if your the best fighter in the world; there are always ways you can get better,” said Ortiz.
It sure looked like Vergil was on his way to a stoppage win over Hooker in the sixth and seventh rounds. The hand injury may have saved Hooker from a nasty knockout.
Only Hooker knows if his hand was injured badly enough for him to go into the theatrics of pain that we saw from him in the seventh.
Hooker was falling apart from the fifth round when Ortiz began to hit him with powerful body shots.
Ortiz says it wasn’t close
“He [Hooker] gave me a lot of opposition, as you can see from my face that I haven’t seen,” said Vergil.
“It was pretty easy to get inside. No, not really. He wasn’t heavy-handed. I just think I was a little too careless.
“I let my head get popped. That’s something I’ve got to work on, but no [Hooker wasn’t heavy-handed].
“He hurt his hand, but I was going to take him out anyway. He was on his way down. I wasn’t surprised, but I could see he didn’t want to get up.
“I don’t think it was close at all. I was landing the more precise shots, and I was the one putting his head back.
“If he landed any more shots. He did land a few clean shots. No, no, no,” said Ortiz when asked if Hooker hurt him at any point in the fight.
Well, the fight was definitely close through four rounds, but after that, Vergil pulled away steadily by hurting Hooker in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds.
When Ortiz sits down and watches his fight with Hooker, he’ll realize that it was fairly close.
Ortiz didn’t do as good a job in beating Hooker as Jose Ramirez did in 2019. Ramirez wasn’t beaten up around the face at the end of the fight.