Top welterweight contender Virgil Ortiz Jr. stops Michael Makinson to extend KO streak

Top welterweight contender Virgil Ortiz Jr. stops Michael Makinson to extend KO streak

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Virgil Ortiz Jr. looked across the ring Saturday night and saw one of boxing’s bureaucratic speed bumps.

In order for Ortiz to get closer to a crack at a legitimate boxing championship, he first had to defeat Michael McKinson.

It’s going to take more than a speed bump to slow Ortiz down.

Ortiz extended his strong start to the year and won by technical decision with a ninth-round stoppage at the Dickey Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. And with his 19th knockout in as many fights, Ortiz showed why he’s one of the best welterweight contenders in the world — even if he doesn’t feel like he’s at his best.

“The first seven rounds, I didn’t do anything good,” Ortiz said in a post-fight interview with DAZN. “I had to adjust big time. I should have listened to my corner from the beginning. But I listened and we finished.”

Ortiz and Makinson were scheduled to fight in early March. The fight was postponed when Ortiz was hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis.

Saturday’s fight, just a few miles from Ortiz’s hometown of Grand Prairie, is billed as a WBO elimination. Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) will certainly look forward to being the WBO and WBA No. 1 contender in the 147-pound division.

But Makinson (22-1, 2 KOs) proved to be a tricky opponent. He slipped outside the ring and pinned Ortiz on the inside.

Finally, all the bodywork Ortiz’s corner demanded at the beginning of the fight revealed itself and paid off. In the last 30 seconds of the eighth round, Ortiz dropped the English fighter with a left hook to the body. Makinson went down in similar fashion early in the ninth round.

After squirming in the ring, the corner jumped to the top of the turnbuckle and threw in the towel.

Ortiz was yelled at for three rounds by his father, Virgil Ortiz Sr., for not following his game plan for the fight. The 24-year-old’s stubbornness finally gave him good advice.

“You think you know everything, and you don’t,” Ortiz Jr. said.

The road to the title remains difficult due to the landscape in the welterweight division. Errol Spence and Terence Crawford hold all four major belts after the ring on Saturday and are in talks for an undisputed title fight. In a post-fight interview with DAZN, Ortiz admitted that securing a title shot anytime soon would be difficult.

But when it comes to taking on someone else, he fights who that opponent is.

“I don’t care as long as you’re not involved in my path to a world title,” Ortiz Jr. said.

In the main event, Marlene Esparza successfully defended her WBA and WBC flyweight title against Eva Guzman. Esparza dominated the action and won by unanimous decision 98-92, 98-92, 99-92.

Esparza (13-1, 1 KO) won her sixth fight in a row after a November 2019 loss to current champion Cenessa Estara.

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