Vergil Ortiz: No Difference Fighting Without or With Fans, Other Than Letting It Make Me Stronger

If there is anything to have been learned by separate homecomings on both sides of the pandemic for Vergil Ortiz Jr., it’s that he remains adored in the greater Dallas area.

The unbeaten knockout artist from Grand Prairie, Texas came up huge in a March 20 crosstown showdown with Dallas’ Maurice Hooker (27-2-3, 18KOs), stopping the former junior welterweight titlist inside of seven rounds. The bout topped a DAZN telecast which played to as many fans as social distancing would allow at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, marking his second home region headliner within his last four fights.

Prior to this bout, Ortiz (17-0, 17KOs) last appeared atop an event which took place behind closed doors when he stopped Samuel Vargas in the 7th round of their welterweight clash last July. The fight took place at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, the first DAZN event following the pandemic though with fans not permitted in attendance.

Naturally, performing in front of any fans will always create a livelier atmosphere than with none at all. The raucous cheers from hometown supporters only further magnify that experience, although it’s still just a fight once the bell rings.

“Honestly, I didn’t feel any difference fighting without fans or with fans, other than letting it make me stronger.” Ortiz told BoingScene.com. “it didn’t get to my head. I’ve now fought where it was just us (the fighters, teams, Golden Boy Promotions staff and assigned members of the California State Athletic Commission) and here in front of fans. It’s the same to me, I didn’t let it get to me other than it making me stronger.”

The win over Hooker was reminiscent of Ortiz’s previous local appearance, when he stopped former title challenger Antonio Orozco in the 6th round of their Aug. 2019 clash. The event took place in Ortiz’s true hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas, with his adoring fans treated to his most significant win to date by that point.

The stoppage victory over Hooker trumps that accomplishment, further proof that Ortiz remains ready for any challenge thrown his way no matter where the location.

“Obviously, it’s always a little nervous for us going into the fight,” Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions told BoxingScene.com. “Vergil once again rose to the occasion and is really starting to develop a nice following here.”

Texas remains a boxing hotbed, serving as among the few states since the pandemic to allow sizeable crowds—or crowds of any kind—for sporting events. Golden Boy has now hosted two shows in state and with a third on the way with unbeaten former junior middleweight titlist and current middleweight contender Jaime Munguia (36-0, 29KOs) topping an April 23 event in El Paso.

Ortiz would seem to be a natural fit to keep it close to home in the foreseeable future, though bigger fights remain the priority wherever they may land.

“We’ll talk to him in the next couple of days. We want to give him time to enjoy this win and just take it from there,” notes Gomez. “He’s young, he’s a hungry fighter and he wants to take on the world.

So, we will talk with the team and figure out the best move for his career.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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