Vergil Ortiz Jr. passing the tests, knocking out everyone – says Sergio Mora

By Rob Smith - 08/15/2021 - Comments

Vergil Ortiz Jr. (18-0, 18 KOs) showed the boxing world that he’s ready to take the next big test for his career in challenging for a world title following his 8th round knockout win over Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (22-2-1, 18 KOs) last Saturday night.

It was far from an easy victory for Ortiz, as he was shaken up by a big shot from the world title challenger Kavaliauskas, 33, in round two, and had to weather a storm of punches to make it through the round.

DAZN commentator Sergio Mora liked what he saw of Vergil in beating ‘Mean Machine’ in the main event at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Heading into last Saturday’s fight, former WBC 154-lb champion Mora wanted to see the 23-year-old Ortiz Jr go past the seventh round for the first time and deal with some adversity by getting hurt.

Both of those boxes were ticked for Mora, as Vergil was hurt and went past the seventh round for the first time in his five-year professional career.

When Vergil Jr. was hurt in the second round by Kavaliauskas, he had the discipline and maturity to use his jab and clinch to escape the round.

Vergil Jr won’t admit he was hurt

“We just had a talk with Vergil Ortiz, and the pride of this future world champion won’t let him admit that he was hurt,” said DAZN commentator Sergio Mora to All Acess Elite Boxing.

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“He was rocked tonight. You got to love the fact that he said, ‘I wasn’t hurt. I got to watch the fight again,’ because that’s the mentality and the stubbornness of a fighter.

“But that right there showed that he’s much more dangerous, and he’s mature enough to handle when getting hurt when getting rocked. He went back to one of the simplest things, the jab.

“He ended up knocking down the guy with a jab, a power jab to the belly,” said Mora on Vergil Jr, dropping Kavaliauskas with a jab to the midsection in the eighth round.

“The jab is the most important punch in boxing, and this fight displayed and gave you all the reasons why every young fighter should understand the jab.

“That’s what got him out of trouble, and that’s what got him the knockout,” Mora said on Vergil’s excellent jab bailing him out of hot water after he was hurt badly by ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas in round 2.

Although Vergil Jr was hurt, it wasn’t to the extent where he was falling over. Kavaliauskas caught him with a big uppercut in the second, but then he missed with several shots that would have potentially put Vergil Jr in trouble.

When Kavaliauskas did land a couple of big punches during a flurry, he was too close to get maximum power on them.

We’ll never know if Kavaliauskas could have hurt Vergil Jr worse because he failed to land a number of his punches when he was trying to finish him.

Ortiz Jr believes he’s ready for Crawford

“I wanted to see him [Vergil Jr.] get past the seventh round; I wanted to see how he would react to going into the second half of the fight,” Mora continued.

Vergil Ortiz Jr. passing the tests, knocking out everyone - says Sergio Mora

“I actually wanted to see him get hurt, and I got all three of those things. It’s going to be incredible watching this young man develop. Not only is he an attraction, but man, he’s exciting to watch,” Mora said in complimenting the young 23-year-old Ortiz Jr.

“That was one of the questions that we were talking about in the post-show,” Sergio said when asked if Vergil Jr. showed with his performance against Kavaliauskas that he can now beat all the top fighters out there at 147.

“Look, whether he’s ready for Bud Crawford or not doesn’t matter. He thinks he’s ready for him. When it comes to a stubborn fighter, who won’t admit that he was hurt, and he thinks he can beat the best pound-for-pound fighters out there, go on, young man.

“He keeps passing the tests. He’s knocking out everybody. He has the power, and he has the discipline, he has the maturity, and he has Robert Garcia in his corner. He has the team.

“Let him do it, let him go at it,” said Sergio about Vergil Ortiz Jr being ready to take on Crawford for his WBO welterweight title. “We thought the same thing when Teofimo Lopez when he was taking on Lomachenko. ‘Too much too soon, it’s going to be a mistake.’

“Now, he’s on top of the world and is reaping the rewards. So let this young man [Vergil Jr] do what other champions AREN’T doing, let him fight the best,” said Mora.

It wouldn’t hurt to see Vergil Jr get two or three more fights under his belt before challenging Crawford, but he can’t afford to wait too long.

If Errol Spence Jr can recover from his eye injury, he could get to Crawford before Vergil does, which would ruin things. Spence is a tougher fight for Vergil Jr on paper because he’s more rugged and battle-proven than the Nebraska native had.

Vergil showed toughness

“Every young stud needs to get hurt,” said Mora on it being a good thing potentially that Vergil Ortiz was hurt by ‘Mean Machine.’ “You saw how Ryan Garcia reacted with Luke Campbell. He picked himself up and knocked the dude out. Vergil Ortiz just did the same thing.

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“Vergil Ortiz fights like he has a chip on his shoulder, but he doesn’t have that jealousy to him. ‘Things are going to come when I deserve it. I’m going to make these fans appreciate me. I’m going to make the promoters give me the big fights.’

“Ryan Garcia does it in another way by smiling, promoting, and doing the pretty body that he is. The social media, and he’s good at doing that.

“Vergil is a little more patient. It’s going to come when it belongs to him, and he’s going to let destiny take its course.

“No way, Kavaliauskas is a two-time Olympian, and he’s already been rocked and beaten by the #1 fighter arguably on the planet or one of them at least,” said Mora when asked if he was surprised that ‘Mean Machine’ kept getting up in the eighth round when he was dropped three times by Vergil Jr.

“He’s the truth; you saw that he’s the truth,” Mora said of Ortiz Jr. “He has great timing. Timing beats speed, speed beats power, but timing trumps everything, and that’s what Kavaliauskas [hurt him with]. That’s what we saw. It was the patience and power jab [from Vergil Jr] that did it,” said Mora.

It was impressive how Vergil Ortiz wanted to trade with Kavaliauaskas when he had him hurt in the second and during the third. Ortiz was getting tagged with big punches, but he was throwing back, looking to land a big counter shot. Kavaliauskas was coming in wildly, ignoring the threat that Vergil Ortiz posed to him.

Eventually, Kavaliauskas paid the price for the reckless way he was fighting by getting dropped by a right-left combination from Vergil Jr in the third.

You can argue that was the beginning of the end for Kavaliauskas, as he was less aggressive after being dropped in the third. That allowed Vergil Ortiz Jr to pick him apart with his jabs and occasional right hands.

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