Earlier than Canelo Alvarez took heart stage in opposition to Daniel Jacobs in the principle occasion throughout Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas, a 21-year-old Texan stole the present. On the undercard on the T-Cellular Area, Vergil Ortiz Jr. dismantled the often sturdy Mauricio Herrera in three rounds.

The outdated warhorse, who hadn’t been stopped in 32 bouts, was floored within the second spherical and knocked out within the third by a blistering set of energy punches.

It served as discover that Ortiz (13-0, 13 KOs) is on the cusp of leaping from blue-chip prospect to a fighter making noise at welterweight. His efficiency in Could created the form of buzz that may construct a extra profitable public profile in a rush.

“It is the primary time I fought in entrance of that many individuals earlier than dwell,” Ortiz advised ESPN as he was getting his fingers wrapped by coach Robert Garcia throughout a latest coaching session. “I might simply really feel how excited that crowd was. I am not like an enormous social media man, however all the pieces blew up, like double the next that I had. I used to be like, ‘Wow, it should’ve meant lots.'”

For Golden Boy, Ortiz’s promoter, it was affirmation of what they considered Ortiz: He might be their subsequent breakout star.

After passing a serious check in opposition to Herrera “with flying colours,” as Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz put it, Ortiz is leaping again into the hearth in opposition to Antonio Orozco on Saturday in a struggle happening in his hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas.

Orozco, 31, has competed on the highest ranges of the game and final September engaged in a memorable back-and-forth world title struggle in opposition to Jose Ramirez in Fresno, California. That is as critical a measuring stick struggle as Ortiz has had.

“I am just about settled in at welterweight. I hope I get a shot inside two years. I’ve acquired to make a reputation for myself, climb the ranks, and if they are saying, ‘Hey, you possibly can struggle in a month, or a month-and-a-half, for a world title,’ I might take it.”

Vergil Ortiz

Ortiz and Golden Boy aren’t taking a sluggish, cautious method to his profession anymore, build up his résumé with simple wins and KO alternatives. How Ortiz responds to a soar in competitors in opposition to Orozco will go a great distance in figuring out his subsequent step on the street to a world title.

If all goes based on plan, future world title bouts with Ortiz’s title on the marquee might embody fights in opposition to the likes of junior welterweight titleholders Ramirez, Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor, in addition to younger 135-pounders akin to Teofimo Lopez, who seems more likely to transfer as much as welterweight down the road.

By making the transfer from junior welterweight early in his profession, Ortiz hopes to be prepared and ready once they do.

Joel Diaz, Ortiz’s former coach, believes Ortiz has the instruments wanted to succeed.

“He is hungry, he is robust, he is very sensible, and most of all, he has devastating energy,” Diaz advised ESPN.

Diaz recalled a key second from a number of years in the past that opened his eyes to what Ortiz might be. It got here when Ortiz floored former world title contender Lucas Matthysse with a physique shot throughout a sparring session at his gymnasium in Indio, California.

Vergil Ortiz Jr., proper, knocked out Mauricio Herrera within the third spherical of their welterweight bout in Could. Ethan Miller/Getty Photos

Diaz notes that it’s not simply uncooked energy that Ortiz possesses. He additionally has super accuracy and a excessive boxing IQ. He confirmed all of that in his bout with Herrera, when the ultimate proper hand excessive was arrange by a feint with the jab down low. Ortiz’s potential for fulfillment will hinge on how he reacts to the highest echelon of fighters on this planet. The intangibles that elite fighters have — the punch resistance and the power to beat adversity, amongst different hard-to-measure attributes — shall be identified solely when he will get pushed.

Ortiz has moved on to Garcia’s Boxing Academy, the place he has entry to sparring classes with proficient fighters akin to Ramirez and former four-division world titlist Mikey Garcia.

“We see him right here within the gymnasium. We see what he does with world champions, world-class fighters, the work ethic that he has,” mentioned Robert, who trains all three — Ortiz, Ramirez and Garcia — at his facility. The famous cornerman believes Ortiz is the very best younger prospect within the sport.

He nonetheless has an extended strategy to go earlier than he reaches the apex of the welterweight division, which is at the moment stocked with expertise akin to titleholders Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao. A few of these names will transfer up or, within the case of “Pacman,” retire sooner or later, and a brand new era will take over the division.

For now, Ortiz is holding his head down, preventing the very best competitors that may step into the ring with him and, down the road, win him sufficient fights to earn a title shot. There are classes to be realized from the journeys of younger fighters who got here earlier than him, akin to Lopez and Shakur Stevenson, who at the moment are nearer to making the leap with a shot at a world title.

Somewhat little bit of luck would not harm, both. Not one of the titleholders at 147 kilos is beneath the Golden Boy banner, and although cross-promotional fights aren’t out of the query, Ortiz must proceed to lift his profile with large wins and highlight-reel knockouts.

For his half, Ortiz seems like he is able to grind it out for so long as it takes.

“I am just about settled in at welterweight. I hope I get a shot inside two years,” Ortiz mentioned. “I’ve acquired to make a reputation for myself, climb the ranks, and if they are saying, ‘Hey, you possibly can struggle in a month, or a month-and-a-half, for a world title,’ I might take it.”