If Teofimo Lopez is indeed kicking off a youthful “takeover” in the boxing world — which would honestly be good to see for a lot of reasons — then one of the top names to take part in that would undoubtedly be Vergil Ortiz Jr, the 22-year-old Golden Boy welterweight who is making a quick move from prospect to contender.
Ortiz (16-0, 16 KO) last fought on July 24, stopping veteran Samuel Vargas in the seventh round. He hasn’t had what you’d call a “big” fight yet, and not being in the PBC pool at 147 limits his options, but he’s out here trying to stir something up at the very least.
Before his return in July, Ortiz said he was ready to take on Terence Crawford (also not a PBC fighter) if he got an offer. Now, he’s thrown out a quick comment on social media that he’s targeting former titleholder Keith Thurman for a 2021 bout.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KO) hasn’t fought since his July 2019 loss to Manny Pacquiao, and given that we’ve got the rest of this year’s schedule all but 100 percent set, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll fight in 2020. (He could, as PBC still have a Dec. 26 FOX date to fill, but that seems the only chance.)
At 31, Thurman has become an odd man to figure in the welterweight division. After a March 2017 win over Danny Garcia, which came after a 2016 win over Shawn Porter, Thurman missed the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 before returning in early 2019. He’s had a series of nagging injuries that have required some surgeries, and he has just the two fights — Pacquiao and a win over Josesito Lopez — in the last three-and-a-half years.
More likely if he fights in 2021, Thurman will wind up with one of the PBC guys. Errol Spence could be possible, a rematch with Shawn Porter, a rematch with Pacquiao even could happen, even Yordenis Ugas might be preferable to Thurman (and certainly to PBC) than going “across the street” for Ortiz.
But it’s good to see Ortiz at least throwing some names out and trying to get into the conversation for real at 147. The desire to step up, and soon, really seems to be there. The realities of the situation could be tough for him.