By: Sean Crose
It was called “The Homecoming,” and that’s what it proved to be for undefeated welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz in Texas on Saturday night, as he bested Antonio Orozco in high octane fashion before a hometown crowd at the Theater in Grand Prairie. Ortiz was the headline attraction of a card, streamed live on DAZN, that wasn’t found lacking in the thrill department.
Before the main event, the 15-1-1 Joshua Franco did battle for the third time with fellow bantamweight Oscar Nagrete, whose own record walking into the contest was 10-2-1. The two men had not only met twice previously, Saturday night was the third time IN A ROW the two men faced off against one another – a true oddity in today’s fight game. Theie first battle, which went down in October 2018, ended in a draw. Their second battle, which went down last April, saw Franco win a somewhat controversial split decision victory. The third fight was supposed to clear the air once and for all regarding who was the better man.
Things didn’t go as planned, though the fight wasn’t a disappointment. Far from it. Franco seemed to be in a bit of trouble early on, as the harder hitting, and perhaps stronger, Nagrete moved forward with bad intentions. Franco was able to find his footing, however, and was able to fire off combinations with impressive quickness and timing. Not that Nagrete was willing to be denied. He kept up his attack for the most part, and, sure enough, was able to continue to land throughout the bout. The scheduled 10 round affair ultimately went to the cards, and was declared a draw.
The high energy atmosphere didn’t die down when the opening bell rang for Ortiz, 13-0, and Orozco, 28-1. Having won all of his previous bouts by knockout, Ortiz was clearly looking to impress his home audience. He went straight for the kill, hoping to make it a quick night. Orozco was tough, and experienced, however, and his skillful defense kept Ortiz from getting the early knock out. Orozco was interested in being more than just an opponent, for he engaged in an exciting fight with Ortiz, employing effective counter punching and possibly frustrating the rising welterweight. Ortiz kept his cool, though, worked the body, and kept firing crisp, rapid shots.
The fight was close in the sixth, but Ortiz was able to finally assert himself by sending Orozco to the mat. Rozco gamely got up, but was subsequently sent down again. Back on his feet for the second time, Orozco was able to hold Ortiz off for a bit. There was still plenty of time left in the round, however. By the time Ortiz sent Orozco to the mat for the third time, the referee wisely called off the fight. Up and coming slugger Ortiz had certainly been challenged, yet he had proven himself ready and able to rise to the occasion.