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Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Maurice Hooker preview: One of boxing’s top prospects faces toughest test to date

Vergil Ortiz Jr has an undefeated record and a 100% KO rate, but will former world champ Maurice Hooker hand him his first loss?

Vergil Ortiz Jr v Maurice Hooker - Weigh In
Vergil Ortiz Jr. (L) and Hector Valdez speak during a Facebook Live Interview on March 19, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Photo by Sye Williams/Golden Boy/Getty Images

On Saturday, Vergil Ortiz Jr (16-0, 16 KOs), one of the most exciting prospects in boxing, faces his biggest test yet in former WBO junior welterweight titleholder Maurice Hooker (27-1-3, 18 KOs).

Ortiz turned pro in 2016 as a super-lightweight and compiled a 11-0 record at the weight including a win over the admittedly far past his best former champion Juan Carlos Salgado. He moved up to welterweight in 2018 and gave gatekeeper Mauricio Herrera and former title challenger Antonio Orozco their first stoppage losses. Hooker also started his career as a super-lightweight and earned the vacant WBO belt by beating Terry Flanagan. He defended it twice before suffering a devastating KO loss to Jose Carlos Ramirez in an exciting unification fight. He moved up to welterweight following the loss and picked up a first-round KO in his debut at the weight.

Ortiz, as evidenced by his 100% KO rate, hits really hard. He’s also really fast and has got really good head movement. He likes to establish his jab, fight at mid range and explode into right hand-left hook combinations. If he is allowed to have space, his head movement make him really hard for boxers to consistently outpoint and his explosivity generally allows him to close the distance and capitalize on the edge in power he has over most opponents. Somewhat counter intuitively, the most effective strategy against him so far has been to pressure him and get to the inside.

His defense against body shots isn’t great and he can’t get quite as much power in his punches on the inside as he can at mid-range. Hooker is willing and has enough power to get into firefights and keep opponents honest but he’s first and foremost a boxer. He is the toughest test the 22-year-old Ortiz has faced so far and certainly is in with a shout to win the fight but I don’t think he’s the most well equipped to capitalize on Ortiz’s flaws.

In the co-main event longtime WBA minimumweight champion Anabel Ortiz (31-3, 4 KOs) defends her title against Seneisa Estrada (19-0, 8 KOs). Estrada is coming off of the fastest knockout in women’s boxing history over Miranda Atkins. It was also one of the biggest mismatches in boxing history and never should have been sanctioned. Regardless of the controversy surrounding her last fight, Estrada is one of the most gifted fighters in women’s boxing, athletically as well as technically. She is fast, can punch and fight from both stances and looks like she could be a potential star. Ortiz is an experienced champion and has been reigning since 2013. She will offer a much tougher fight than Estrada’s record breaking KO but Estrada is bigger, younger, stronger, faster and seems primed to wrestle the torch away from Ortiz.

Ortiz Jr vs Hooker airs on DAZN on Saturday March 20th at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT