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Vergil Ortiz Jr. returning to the ring against Maurice Hooker March 20th

Vergil Ortiz Jr., in red corner, lands a right on Samuel Vargas during their bout at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on July 24, 2020. Ortiz Jr. remains undefeated with a record of 16-0 (16KOs). Mg 7408

Top welterweight boxing prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. (16-0) is set to return to the ring on March 20th facing off against former WBO world champion Maurice Hooker (27-1-3) in a 12-round bout for the WBO International Welterweight championship. This will be the first time Vergil Ortiz has fought a former world champion in his career.

Both fighters were born in Dallas, Texas, with Vergil Ortiz now residing in Grand Prarie, Texas.

Both men had fights postponed or cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vergil Ortiz was scheduled to fight Samuel Vargas on March 28th at the Los Angeles Forum but the fight was postponed to four months later taking place at Fantasy Springs Casino in California without fans in attendace.

Meanwhile, Maurice Hooker was expected to fight Regis Prograis on April 17th at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland but it was cancelled. The fight could have been rescheduled for June but negotiations fell through when both fighters could not come to a decision about what weight at which they would fight.

Vergil Ortiz, Maurice Hooker fight

Vergil Ortiz, Maurice Hooker
May 4, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vergil Ortiz Jr. (white trunks) and Mauricio Herrera (gray trunks) box during their welterweight bout at T-Mobile Arena. Ortiz Jr. won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The 22-year-old Vergil Ortiz Jr. is undefeated through 16 fights with each of his wins coming by way of knockout. His most recent fight came on July 24, 2020 when he beat Samuel Vargas via seventh-round knockout. That fight was just the second time in Ortiz’s career that he has fought past the sixth round. A win for Ortiz could potentially see him challenge for a world title at welterweight some point down the line.

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This was the first time in Vergil Ortiz’s professional career that he did not fight more than once and this eight-month layoff is the longest of his career so far. Prior to the pandemic postponing his 2020 fight against Samuel Vargas, Ortiz had never taken a layoff from the ring longer than four months.

Maurice Hooker, 31, has not fought since his debut fight in the welterweight division when he beat Uriel Perez by first-round knockout in December 2019. He previously reigned as WBO Super Lightweight champion winning the belt from Terry Flanagan via split decision in June 2018. He successfully defended the title twice before losing it to Jose Carlos Ramirez by sixth round knockout in a bout that Ramirez’s WBC Super Lightweight championship was also on the line.

Like Vergil Ortiz, Maurice Hooker will also be coming off the longest layoff of his career as 2020 was the first year that saw him out of the ring for the entire year. He has taken at least two fights in a year each year since turning pro in 2011 with his longest layoff coming in when he sat out 10 months from August 2017 to June 2018.

The fight will air live on DAZN with the fight’s location yet to be announced.