Like Ryan Garcia before him, Vergil Ortiz Jr’s first fight as a super welterweight won’t be against a super welterweight. Ortiz confirmed on Twitter today that he’ll face welterweight veteran Fredrick Lawson in his January 6th return.
Previous reporting indicated that Marlen Esparza would also see action, but if DAZN sent out anything about the undercard, I haven’t seen it.
In ordinary circumstances, this would be a truly wretched matchup. Ghana’s Lawson (30-3, 22 KO) arguably peaked with back-to-back wins over Ray Narh and Briedis Prescott nearly a decade back; his only noteworthy win since saw him edge out late replacement Estevan Villalobos in April and he’s suffered stoppage losses to Kevin Bizier, Juan Ruiz, and Charles Hatley.
These are not ordinary circumstances. Ortiz (19-0, 19 KO) seems to literally be falling apart at the seams, with health issues keeping him sidelined for all of 2023. Hopefully the lack of a weight cut will smooth things out, but until we know he’s still physically able to box at a high level, I can’t really blame his handlers for taking a soft touch.