Highly regarded welterweight hopeful Vergil Ortiz will face veteran Samuel Vargas at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resort in Indio, California, on July 24, in Golden Boy Promotions’ first fight card since the world-wide pandemic put a halt to boxing events across the world back in mid-March.
“We’re just excited, happy to be back with our fighters,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “Especially a guy like Vergil who was scheduled to fight before the shutdown. He was 10 days out from fighting, so I’m just happy he gets to fight, again, and we’re back at it.”
Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s best young fighters. The 22-year-old native of Grand Prairie, Texas, has stopped everyone he has faced thus far as a professional. In 2019, Ortiz stopped Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, and then Antonio Orozco in six. Ortiz and Vargas were originally scheduled to clash on March 28 at the Forum in Los Angeles before that card was canceled.
“I’m very thankful and excited to be headlining the first Golden Boy event after the quarantine,” said Ortiz, who has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside, California for the past few weeks. “I’m happy that it’s still with the same opponent, so basically we’re picking up where we left off. It’s going to be a tough fight, and it’ll be a great way to kick off the year for me.”
Ortiz is facing a seasoned veteran in Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs), who has faced the likes of Amir Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny Garcia, and Errol Spence over the course of his career.
“I think that everything happens for a reason,” said Vargas, who has been in Las Vegas in recent weeks preparing for this bout. “I think this time off benefited me. I’m ready to upset the world. I believe I can come out with the win. The world is a weird place right now. The show will be different. There will be no fans, but I have no doubt I’m going to win.”
As Golden Boy officials began to put this card together, they found a rather limited pool of options to draw from, in terms of selecting boxers.
“There’s a lot of guys that just weren’t ready,” explained Gomez. “They hadn’t been to the gym because [gyms] were closed, they didn’t train, do road work, sparring, or anything. Now it’s a little better, but we’re not in the clear yet.”
The co-feature scheduled for July 24 is a 10-round lightweight contest between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs). Other fights include an eight round middleweight bout between Shane Mosley Jr (15-3, 9 KOs) and Jeremy Ramos (11-8, 2 KOs), a women’s junior flyweight fight between Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) and Jacky Calvo (12-5-2, 1 KO), and a clash between prospects Hector Valdez and Evan Sanchez.
For the time being, Golden Boy’s cards in California will be held without a live audience. There’s no indication when spectators will be allowed back into any sporting events, and from Golden Boy’s perspective, the hope at this point is just to try to get the first few cards off the ground smoothly.
“It’s hard to say, it’s scary. You’ve seen the numbers, they’ve been rising, again,” said Gomez. “There have been surges in Florida, here in California. I don’t know what the governor is going to decide. I just hope we don’t get shut down again.”