Vergil Ortiz Officially Set to Fight Samuel Vargas in Golden Boy’s First Post-Coronavirus Fight Card

Vergil Ortiz is officially ready to rumble…

As previously expected, the 22-year-old highly regarded Mexican American welterweight will face veteran Samuel Vargas on July 24 in Golden Boy‘s first fight card since the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to boxing events across the world in mid-March.

Vergil Ortiz Jr.

The card will take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resortin Indio, California.

“We’re just excited, happy to be back with our fighters,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions

“Especially a guy like Vergil who was scheduled to fight before the shutdown. He was 10 days out from fighting, so I’m just happy he gets to fight again, and we’re back at it.”

For the time being, Golden Boy’s cards in California will be held without an audience.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s best young fighters. The Grand Prairie, Texas native has stopped everyone he has faced thus far as a professional. In 2019, Ortiz stopped Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, and then Antonio Orozco in six.

Ortiz and Vargas were originally scheduled to clash on March 28 at The Forumin Inglewood, California, before that card was canceled.

“I’m very thankful and excited to be headlining the first Golden Boy event after the quarantine,” said Ortiz, who has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside for the past few weeks. “I’m happy that it’s still with the same opponent, so basically we’re picking up where we left off. It’s going to be a tough fight, and it’ll be a great way to kick off the year for me.”

Ortiz is facing a seasoned veteran in Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs), who has faced Amir KhanLuis CollazoDanny Garcia and Errol Spence over the course of his career.

“I think that everything happens for a reason,” said Vargas, who has been in Las Vegas in recent weeks, preparing for this bout. “I think this time off benefited me. I’m ready to upset the world. I believe I can come out with the win. The world is a weird place right now. The show will be different. There will be no fans, but I have no doubt I’m going to win.”

As Golden Boy officials began to put this card together, they found a rather limited pool of options to draw from, in terms of selecting boxers.

“There’s a lot of guys that just weren’t ready,” Gomez said. “They hadn’t been to the gym because [gyms] were closed, they didn’t train, do road work, sparring or anything. Now it’s a little better, but we’re not in the clear yet.”

The co-feature scheduled for July 24 is a 10-round lightweight contest between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs). Other fights include an eight-round middleweight bout between Shane Mosley Jr. (15-3, 9 KOs) and Jeremy Ramos (11-8, 2 KOs), a women’s junior flyweight fight between Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) and Jacky Calvo(12-5-2, 1 KO), and a clash between prospects Hector Valdez and Evan Sanchez.

There’s no indication when spectators will be allowed back into any sporting events, and from Golden Boy’s perspective, the hope at this point is just to try to get the first few cards off the ground smoothly.

“It’s hard to say. It’s scary. You’ve seen the numbers, they’ve been rising again,” Gomez said. “There have been surges in Florida, here in California. I don’t know what the governor is going to decide. I just hope we don’t get shut down again.”

Marlen Esparza to Fight Lucia Nunez in March

Marlen Esparzais ready to rumble…

The 30-year-old Mexican American boxer will box on Golden Boy Promotions’ “Thursday Night Fights” series (DAZN/RingTV.com, 10:00 pm ET) on March 19 at the Avalon in Hollywood, California.

Marlen Esparza

Esparza joins a card that includes Joet Gonzalezand Lamont Roach, all coming off decision losses in world title bouts.

Esparza (7-1, 1 KO), who was a 2012 U.S. Olympicbronze medalist, will face Lucia Nunez(7-10), 29, of Mexico, in a six-round, women’s junior bantamweight bout.

In Esparza’s last fight, on November 2 in Las Vegas on the Canelo AlvarezSergey Kovalevundercard, she lost a ninth-round technical decision because of a bad cut from an accidental head-butt against rival Seniesa Estradafor a vacant interim women’s flyweight title.

“I’m ready to get back in the ring,” Esparza said. “There were multiple factors that made this last fight a real learning experience, but this next round of professional boxing is just the beginning of much more. I’m looking forward to coming out with the new strategies that I’ve been learning and switching up my game a bit.”

Gonzalez (23-1, 14 KOs), 26, of Glendora, California, will square off with former world title challenger Chris Avalos (27-7, 20 KOs), 30, of Lancaster, California, in a 10-round featherweight fight.

Gonzalez will be fighting for the first time since he faced bitter rival Shakur Stevenson for a vacant featherweight world title on October 26 in Reno, Nevada, and lost a near-shutout decision.

“I can’t wait to step back into the ring,” Gonzalez said. “I fought for a world title, so I know what it’s like to be at that level. Now, I’ll be coming back with an even stronger desire to become a world champion. This March 19, I will not disappoint.”

Avalos has lost two fights in a row but has vast experience, including in losses in world title bouts to Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz and to Oscar Valdezin a nontitle bout.

“We’re coming to win,” Avalos said. “We’re back on track. The old Chris Avalos is back. (Gonzalez) may think I’m a joke. You may think I’m washed up. But I’m coming to kick your ass. Keep your hands (up) or you will see what happens.”

Roach (19-1-1, 7 KOs), 24, of Washington, will face Neil John Tabanao(17-7, 11 KOs), 25, of the Philippines, in a 10-round junior lightweight bout in the co-feature.

Roach will be in the ring for the first time since he lost a competitive unanimous decision as the mandatory challenger for 130-pound world titlist Jamel Herringon November 9 in Fresno, California.

“I’ve been itching to get back in that square to show that I’m the best at 130,” Roach said. “My last fight was just a glimpse, but this year it’s all the way up with me.”

Tabanao is coming off three 10-round decision losses in a row, all against undefeated fighters.

“I’m looking forward to this fight against Lamont Roach Jr.,” Tabanao said. “I know that he’s coming off his first loss and that he wants to fight for a world title again. However, I more experience than he, and I know how to score an upset.”