By: Sean Crose
Fourteen wins. Zero defeats. All wins by knockout. There’s little doubt that twenty one year old Texan Vergil Ortiz is a fighter on the rise. When one’s entire record to date consists of highlight reel moments, people naturally take notice. “My ultimate goal,” he told me back in 2018, “is to be remembered in boxing.” Make no mistake about it, Ortiz has lofty goals – and an impressive resume to prove his seriousness about achieving those goals. Yet Ortiz’ welterweight opponent this Friday in Indio, California no doubt has lofty goals of his own – and an impressive resume, as well.
At 28-1 (and that lone one came via split decision), Brad Solomon is no mere tune up for Ortiz. Those who have watched the Lafayette Louisiana born slickster in action know the man is way more than a steppingstone – he’s someone who might pose a real threat to Ortiz’ undefeated record. “I tip my hat off to Verg,” Solomon tells me over the phone. “I respect him for giving me this opportunity…that lets me know what type of fighter he is.” True enough. Extremely smooth and fluid in the ring, Solomon has bested names such as Ray Robinson and Adrian Granados. Now, after a period of relative inactivity – he’s fought just three times since 2015 – Solomon is looking to get back on track.
Extremely personable, the fighter brushed off the idea of taking an easy fight or two before moving on to a (literally) heavy hitter like Ortiz. “Tune ups,” he says. “That doesn’t help you.” Solomon makes it clear he’s a man who pursues the sport of boxing his way rather than someone else’s’. “Ain’t no game plan,” Solomon tells me. “I’m looking forward to whatever he (Ortiz) brings.” Solomon’s confidence has served him well far more than it hasn’t. “I feel good about the situation,” he says.
An upset win over Ortiz on Friday might well make the sky the limit for the colorful Solomon. Still, the man remains focused on the task at hand. “I’m focusing on Vergil at this moment,” he says. “They’ll come for the big fights after that.” To Solomon, boxing is a serious business – a job to be treated with a professional attitude. “This is what I do,” Solomon tells me. “It’s another day at the office.” That means Ortiz can expect a very prepared Solomon in Indio (“I started in New Orleans,” he says of his training, “and finished in Georgia”). Ortiz, however, will be aiming to do what he does best – finish things early.
This one should be interesting.