Prior to last night’s test of a fight with the tough and skilled Maurice Hooker, 27-2-3(18), Oscar De La Hoya said he would look strongly at putting his guy Vergil Ortiz Jr in with Terence Crawford in his next fight should he get the win. Well, Ortiz Jr sure got the win last night, a stoppage win, and the 22-year-old star in the making dutifully called out Crawford immediately after picking up the seventh round stoppage victory that saw him improve to a perfect 17-0 with 17 KO’s. In fact, Ortiz Jr didn’t merely call out the reigning WBO welterweight champion (and for many the pound-for-pound best in the sport today), he also proclaimed how he is “the real deal, the best, and I want to fight the best.”
There is no denying Ortiz Jr’s talents, or his desire and his hunger. But is he really ready for the ultra-seasoned, on top of his game Crawford, who is also perfect at 37-0(28) and is coming off an easy KO win over a faded Kell Brook? Is it too soon, at age 22 and after just 17 pro bouts, for Ortiz Jr to get in there with the three-weight champion? Ortiz Jr doesn’t think so, and neither does De La Hoya. However, Ortiz Jr is not going as far as to predict a KO win over Crawford.
“I don’t think I’d be able to take him out,” Ortiz Jr said of a possible fight between he and Crawford. “If we do end up fighting, it would probably go the distance in a very competitive fight. Let’s make the fight happen. I’m more than ready. There’s no-one really willing to fight you. I’m right here.”
Indeed, who else has Crawford – a great fighter who is nevertheless running the risk of retiring from the sport without having had his defining fight – got to fight, at least over the coming months? We seem no closer at all to seeing that Crawford Vs. Errol Spence fight get made, and we perhaps never will see this one get over the line (shame on both sides if this proves to be the case and we miss out on what could possibly be a truly great fight). But Ortiz Jr, is, as he says, is “right here.” Crawford, though, doesn’t seem too interested in taking the fight.
“Y’all know (I’d beat Ortiz Jr),” Crawford said to The Ring. “He really don’t want me. He’s doing his thing, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
But maybe Crawford is dead wrong. Maybe Ortiz Jr really does want to fight him. As long as Ortiz Jr keeps on winning, and as long as he keeps on calling Crawford out, it will be “Bud” who is made to look bad if the fight doesn’t happen. To repeat, who else has Crawford got to fight this year? Who knows, if a Crawford-Ortiz Jr fight did get made, maybe we would see both men show their greatness.
There are right now a number of superb, young and talented fighters all jostling to become the next superstar, the next “face of boxing,” – in Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Shakur Stevenson and Jaron Ennis among others. But could it be that Ortiz Jr is the best of the lot?