This Saturday, Vergil Ortiz and Michael Conlan make their returns to the squared circle after facing adversity both inside and out of the ring. Vergil Ortiz will take on the unbeaten fringe contender Michael McKinson, a bout that has now been upgraded to WBA title eliminator. Michael Conlan goes against hardened vet Miguel Marriaga in an attempt to get back on the horse he was bucked from by the hands of Leigh Wood earlier in the year. Ortiz/McKinson will be streamed live on DAZN and Conlan/Marriaga will live streaming on ESPN+.
Let’s begin with Michael Conlan as he tries to get rid of the memory that saw him knocked out of the ring in a dramatic fashion by Leigh Wood in a fight of the year candidate. It appeared Conlan was well on to his way to defeating Leigh Wood, scoring a knockdown in the very first round and looking dominant for several rounds thereafter. Credit goes out to Leigh Wood, who worked his way back into the fight, lodging a knockdown in the 11th round and then delivering the knockout of the year thus far, according to this hack-of-a-scribe in the 12th.
Not just physically, but can Conlan mentally be back 100 % after such a brutal ending to his fight with Leigh Wood? If he’s not fully back in one or both of those categories, a guy like Miguel Marriaga will exploit it. Marriaga is faded, no doubt, and never was a top-level boxer, but he does bring pressure and power. Last December, he was beaten handily by a fighter coming into his prime in Eduardo Ramirez, getting dropped in the 3rd round. He did win a round or two in another decision loss to Joet Gonzalez in late 2020.
If Michael Conlan can show the skills and versatility he displayed in a win over TJ Doheny; he should be able to get a convincing victory. Conlan will need to use lateral movement and defense to avoid exchanging with Marriaga. Conlan will use his sturdy jab and ring craft to win rounds mixing in attacks on the body in an effort to wear down a come-forward Miguel Marriaga. Look for Conlan’s jab, counter shots, and left hooks to the body to be too much for Marriaga to deal with. Conlan should be able to get a knockdown or two, that’s if his confidence is back without hesitation.
My Official Prediction is Michael Conlan by Unanimous Decision.
Let’s switch to the main event on DAZN, which pits undefeated boxer Vergil Ortiz up against a somewhat game Michael McKinson. As previously noted, the fight was upgraded of sorts to a WBA title eliminator which is no real surprise given Errol Spence, and Terrence Crawford seems to be on collision course to fight this fall and then likely moving up to junior middleweight. Vergil Ortiz has been in the cut, waiting for a major opportunity at welterweight, which is clogged up at the current moment at the title level.
Ortiz was reportedly diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis causing him to pull out of this very same matchup back in March. With 18 wins coming from 18 stoppages, obviously, every time out, the opposition will test Vergil’s knockout streak. Ortiz is a fundamentally sound pressure fighter who doesn’t mind taking a punch at times to land his more powerful shot. When an opponent is hurt, Ortiz smells blood in the water and pounces on his prey. His potential prey is a pretty good boxer with an unbeaten record at 22-0, Michael McKinson.
Michael McKinson has some of the skills it would take to go the distance and/or trouble Ortiz in spots. McKinson features good movement using angles to land punches and then escape the pocket to safety. He’s a southpaw that can counter a jab fairly well, and his best punch is a left hook, whether a lead or counter hook. His jab is okay, but his right hand usually is a wider looping punch which could be an issue facing the straight-punching Ortiz. Michael did pull off a nice upset as an underdog to Chris Kongo, even managing to knock Kongo down. The punch wasn’t all that clean, and it did seem more like a push/punch, but he was crafty in the way he held Kongo’s guard in order to hit his target.
The outcome will come down to the talent gap, and McKinson able to do what he’s done against UK domestic level boxers compared to a blue-chip prospect turned contender. The answer is no he won’t be able to land enough quality punches to win that many rounds. Also, his lack of punching power with only two knockouts lends itself to believe he won’t have enough pop to keep Ortiz off of him.
This boxing podcaster does see a scenario where McKinson has limited success in the first couple of frames. Once Vergil finds his rhythm, which could take a bit given how long he’s been out of the ring, Ortiz will close the show with heavy punches to the body and head. McKinson will need to look a lot better than he did in his last outing versus Alex Martin if he wants to make this thing a two-way battle beyond the first few rounds.
My Official Prediction is Vergil Ortiz by the 8th round stoppage.
Podcast Link tobtr.com/s/12129430
Side Note: On Friday night, the ‘Last Chance Tourney” on the ProBoxTV app features Moran vs. Dutchover & Castaneda vs. Fernandez.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio