Knockout artist and Dallas, Texas, native Vergil Ortiz Jr. is only 20 years old and is already becoming proficient in two disciplines. As a junior welterweight prospect, Ortiz (11-0, 11 knockouts) has stopped each of his 11 opponents inside of three rounds. In addition, Ortiz is becoming a skilled musician, virtually teaching himself how to play multiple instruments. For Ortiz, music and boxing are not mutually exclusive.
Ortiz will look to extend his knockout streak when he meets Omar Tienda (19-5, 12 KOs) on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Rocky Fielding super middleweight bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“Working on music theory and scales has helped me with boxing,” Ortiz told RingTV.com. “In music, you have to use two hands to do separate things and it’s the same with boxing. Your feet may be doing one thing but your hands have to synchronize at just the right time.”
Ortiz points to his most recent fight against Robert Ortiz last September on the Canelo-Gennady Golovkin II undercard, in which he asserts that finding the perfect synchronization and rhythm helped him handily put his opponent away.
“My last hook landed as soon as (Robert) threw his jab,” Ortiz recalls. “I felt the rhythm and was able to time it perfectly. I stepped back and was able to use my full force behind my right hand. If my foot was not placed exactly where it was at that moment, I would not have had the full power behind the hook.”
Ortiz admits he doesn’t always see it when it happens in real time but when he watches the fight later with his team, which includes head trainer Joel Diaz, he can quickly point out a discrepancy and then take the notes back to sparring to ensure he remains sharp.
“I try not to think about it during the fight,” Ortiz added. “It happens because I prepared for it to happen. I can always feel it and that helps me always position my feet in the right place. That’s why sparring is extremely helpful.”
Earlier this year Ortiz sparred with 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakram Giyasov, from Uzbekistan. For this camp, he sparred with former Mayweather Promotions prospect and now Top Rank fighter Josue Vargas. Ortiz credits the many rounds of sparring with Vargas as essential study material for his mind as much as his body.
“It’s like a chess game in sparring,” Ortiz said. “Vargas is very slick and forces me to use my mind, which I am grateful for. I go through different scenarios in my mind and what I anticipate my opponent will do so, when I get in the ring, I am not surprised by anything and always stay in control.”
Ortiz refuses to admit feeling any pressure as the knockouts keep raking up to extend his streak. Ortiz said he is prepared to go as many rounds as necessary as long as he looks good in the process.
“We always train to go the distance and do whatever is necessary to win,” Ortiz said, “but when I see my opponent hurt, there is a certain reaction they make that I know they are ready to go.”
Ortiz will turn 21 in March and hopes to challenge for his first world title before the end of 2019.
“I think a fight between me and (WBO junior welterweight titlist) Maurice Hooker would be great for boxing fans and for the city of Dallas.”
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