Vergil Ortiz Stops Maurice Hooker in 7, Calls Out Crawford

By Caryn A. Tate on March 21, 2021

It may be a little early for Ortiz to fight an elite world champion. (Golden Boy Promotions)

Saturday night, from Fort Worth, Texas, undefeated 22-year-old welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz (17-0, 17 KOs) faced a test in former junior welterweight world champion Maurice Hooker (27-2-3, 18 KOs). The winner would go high on the list to face current WBO world welterweight champion Terence Crawford (at some point).

 

Both fighters came out hot in the first round. There was very little feeling out; Ortiz began letting power shots rip right away, and when he started landing right hands, Hooker recognized that he had to do the same back. Soon they were trading every shot in the book, with Ortiz getting the better of things thanks to his sharper, more accurate punching as well as his better defense. His defense isn’t exaggerated, but he moves his head off the line at times which saved him from taking punches at different points in the fight. Hooker, by contrast, doesn’t typically move his head off the line, and mainly relies on blocking and using his feet to move and/or retreat.

 

In the fourth and fifth rounds, Hooker came on and caught Ortiz with some nice, sharp jabs. At one point, he landed a nice right hand on Ortiz’s jaw. Ortiz was able to see it in time to roll it back partly, but he still took some of it, and he was stunned. He backed off a bit and tried to gather his senses.

 

Hooker showed a lot of heart. The punches he did take from Ortiz, upstairs and down, he took well. And some of the body shots Ortiz landed were hellacious, clearly hurting Hooker, but the latter hid it as well as he could and came back with his own shots. He showed he was fighting to win and when Ortiz landed a nice shot, Hooker responded in kind, to make Ortiz pay. It didn’t always work out, but the belief in himself and the kind of fight he had within himself had to be appreciated by anyone watching.

 

Ortiz, though, was just too much for Hooker. Only 22, he’s fresh, and he’s at the stage of his career that he’s improving with each fight. He got his bell rung a time or two tonight, not badly, but enough to make him pause, make some adjustments, tighten up his defense, and think. It was just the type of fight Ortiz needed at this point in his career before he moves on to higher level opposition.

 

Ortiz’s punches are incredibly sharp and accurate. He’s known for his power, obviously, with a 100% knockout ratio, but part of that may be due to his accuracy and tight fundamentals. He shows good foot placement and positioning, and though he doesn’t have flashy footwork, he sometimes utilized some really nice pivots when inside on Hooker tonight. It’s a type of footwork you unfortunately don’t see too often in modern boxing.

 

In the sixth, Ortiz came on. His sharp jab snapped Hooker’s head back more than once. Late in the round, Ortiz landed a combination that hurt Hooker and down he went in the corner. He made the count with 13 seconds left and fought out the rest of the round.

 

In the seventh, Ortiz pressed Hooker hard. The men traded combinations; Hooker’s right hand hit at an odd angle on top of Ortiz’s head. It didn’t bother Ortiz, but Hooker paused and then turned his back, taking a knee and grimacing in pain. Referee Laurence Cole administered a count, and Hooker didn’t arise.

 

After the bout, Hooker confirmed he had injured his right hand or wrist and wasn’t able to go on fighting with his hand in that state.

 

“I don’t care if I’m ready or not. I want that fight,” said Vergil Ortiz bluntly after the fight, when asked if he’s ready for Terence “Bud” Crawford.

 

It may be a little early for Ortiz to fight an elite world champion; but it likely won’t be long until he’s ready for that level.

 

In the co-main event, undefeated Seneisa “Superbad” Estrada (20-0, 8 KOs) faced longtime WBA world minimumweight champion Anabel “Avispa” Ortiz (31-4, 4 KOs) in a bid for Ortiz’s belt. “Avispa” had held the title for nearly 8 years.

 

Ortiz showed why she held the title for so long; she’s a very good fighter, with good instincts, fundamentals, and timing. Tonight, she also showed she has a lot of dog.

 

In the second round, Estrada showed Ortiz a pawing jab a few times before letting loose with a sharp overhand right that landed clean upstairs and dropped Ortiz. Ortiz was able to rise and make the count, and the dogged look on her face showed she wasn’t intending on going out that easy.

 

She fought hard and smart, but she just wasn’t able to hang with Seneisa Estrada tonight.

 

Estrada is a superb fighter who employed a highly entertaining, athletic fighting style reminiscent of old-school boxers like Roy Jones Jr. and Sugar Ray Leonard. Her foot positioning was excellent—she was typically in prime position for her own offense and defense, but at an uncomfortable angle for Ortiz to execute her offense.

 

It resulted in Estrada dominating Ortiz for nearly all 10 rounds. The most Ortiz could have won was one round, perhaps. It was highly impressive thanks to Ortiz’s skill level; the fact that Estrada was able to make this victory so clear and decisive shows how special a talent she is.