Scott Christ (49-28)
Ortiz. Please. Let the others spell it out. I do think McKinson may win an early round or two. He’s not a bad boxer at all. Ortiz TKO-6
Wil Esco (58-19)
Vergil Ortiz remains one of the hottest young prospects on the fringe of fighting for a world title, and barring any unexpected setbacks with his health I don’t really see why he won’t be able to roll over McKinson — eventually, anyway. I think Ortiz gets some rounds past him as he gets timing down but then starts unloading his power which will be too much for McKinson to handle. I expect McKinson to give his best effort, I just see a talent disparity here which will be one too much to overcome. Ortiz TKO-7
John Hansen (59-18)
Have compassion for Michael McKinson, a man living through boxing’s version of a particularly tedious and tragic Russian novel. A lifetime of successful progress on the path to a world title has earned him the misery of repeatedly answering some variation of the question: “How do you feel about the fact that the world expects you to be beaten unconscious in an event that nobody actually wants to see?”
Professional courtesy means the people who ask that question to his face only disrespect his talent and achievements as politely as possible, unlike the more direct and contemptuous comments from the frenzied id of the internet boxing community. It’s not a unique experience for a heavy underdog facing a potential generational talent. But, because his first scheduled fight with Ortiz was pushed back from an initial January date and then canceled at the last minute in March, he’s had to go through it all more than once.
Michael McKinson has spent the better part of a year living through a version of Groundhog Day co-written by Dostoevsky and whichever pick-up artist invented the concept of “negging.” Even if you think he’s doomed, spare a tiny bit of empathy for the banal torture of his promotional and media responsibilities. And, once you’re done extending that kindness of the human spirit, recognize that McKinson is, indeed, almost certainly doomed on Saturday.
The only fighters that have given Vergil Ortiz the slightest bit of pause had potential one-shot knockout ability. McKinson has undeniable technical ability, but a 22 fight history shows he is not a guy with fight-ending power. To me, the only question in this matchup is if McKinson will have the movement and chin to last the distance and end Ortiz’s knockout streak.
Things seldom resolve in a pleasant or happy way for the protagonists of Russian novels. The same is true when very good boxers enter the ring to challenge guys on the verge of greatness. Credit to McKinson for having the gumption and confidence to accept the Ortiz fight twice now. I hope he treats himself to a nice vacation once it’s over, then starts climbing the professional ladder again. And, if Jaron Ennis’s people give him a call next? I hope he sends it to voicemail. Ortiz UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (61-16)
McKinson is in a tough spot when it comes to fighting Ortiz. He’s got a fairly singular style, sure, but it’s not weird enough to throw off Ortiz’s rock-solid fundamentals, especially without any sort of power with which to slow Ortiz’s perpetual forward march. A gameplan built around slipping just out of range while peppering with 1’s and 2’s isn’t going to work against an adept ring-cutter whose jab is equivalent to most welterweights’ power shots; McKinson may have a bit of success early, but once Ortiz gets his rhythm down, it’s only a matter of time.
McKinson can’t beat Ortiz in an orthodox fight and doesn’t have the tools to drag him into an unorthodox one. Even if he does somehow knock Ortiz off of his game, Ortiz’s power is too huge a hurdle to overcome. Ortiz steadily puts the squeeze on him for a middle-rounds finish. Ortiz TKO-7
Michael Conlan vs Miguel Marriaga
Scott: Conlan UD-12
Wil: Conlan UD-12
John: Conlan UD-12
Patrick: Conlan UD-12
Maurice Hooker vs Blair Cobbs
Scott: Hooker TKO-8
Wil: Hooker TKO-6
John: Hooker UD-10
Patrick: Hooker UD-10