Vergil Ortiz Jr will indeed face Michael McKinson on Aug. 6, a backup plan to Golden Boy’s original plan, and a rescheduling of a fight that fell through earlier this year.
Ortiz (18-0, 18 KO) will be near home again at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena, where he beat Maurice Hooker in Mar. 2021. Golden Boy had intended to bring over European champion David Avanesyan, but that fell apart, and now McKinson (22-0, 2 KO) is back in.
The 28-year-old McKinson was meant to fight Ortiz in March of this year, but the 24-year-old rising star pulled out late due to a bout with rhabdomyolysis. That had some questioning whether he’d still fight at 147 lbs going forward, but it appears he will, at least in the short-term.
McKinson, who fought and beat Alex Martin instead in March, was not considered a genuine threat to Ortiz the first time around, and likely won’t be now. But he is a crafty southpaw boxer, and being frank, Golden Boy simply don’t have anyone for Ortiz to fight at 147, other than Alexis Rocha, perhaps, and they may be saving Rocha for a late 2022 fight with Ortiz.
“I am very happy to be stepping back into the ring again,” said Ortiz. “I’m ready to show the world once again why I’m ready for a world title.”
“I’m getting what I deserve,” said McKinson. “I was prepared to fight Ortiz before; now, I have been given the opportunity again to prove I am the best in this division.”
Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya called Ortiz “the most exciting welterweight in the world, and added, “We are happy that he is back, healthy, and feels 100 percent. Fighting in his home state, I can’t think of a better way for him to make his comeback and put on another great performance for his fans. He is one step away from challenging any world champion and he will prove it.”
“I am delighted that this fight has come back around for Mikey,” said Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, McKinson’s promoter. “He suffered disappointment in March when Vergil was forced out of the fight, but thanks to a lot of hard work all round, he was able to fight in LA and gathered valuable experience by making his US debut and all that comes with it, so there will be no surprises for him in Fort Worth. Vergil is an exceptional fighter, one of the best rising stars in the sport, but we believe Mikey has the style to cause him a lot of problems, and this could be his breakout night.”
Ortiz hasn’t fought since Aug. 2021, when he beat Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, so this will be a return after a substantial layoff and some health issues, and hopefully he’s in good shape and ready to get back to business.