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Vergil Ortiz Jr to dedicate next fight to Kobe Bryant

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Welterweight knockout artist Vergil Ortiz Jr 15-0 (15) says he will channel the spirit of the late, great Kobe Bryant when he faces Colombian veteran Samuel Vargas 31-5-2 (14) at The Forum in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, March 28.

NBA superstar Bryant passed away last month when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter he was travelling on crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, California. There were seven people onboard including Bryant’s daughter Gianna. None of them survived.

Ortiz fought four times last year including wins over former world title challenger Antonio Orozco and Brad Solomon.

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The 21-year-old from Grand Prairie, Texas insists he isn’t overlooking Vargas, who has only ever been stopped by Errol Spence Jr and Danny Garcia.

“We don’t take anyone lightly,” said Ortiz. “I work the hardest that’s the way we have to work with the Mamba mentality. Rest in Peace Kobe. Come March 28 it will be a very exciting fight. This fight comes three days after my birthday, so I won’t be eating cake. See you all out there.”

The 30-year-old Vargas of Bogota, Colombia fought twice last year, dropping a split decision to former welterweight champion Luis Collazo in March before outpointing Silverio Ortiz in June.

“This is my time. I’m confident. It’s going to be a hell of a fight. Big venue calls for a big fight. Don’t miss it,” Vargas said.

Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez says he is looking for a world title shot for Ortiz this year, who is ranked WBO number three, WBC number six and also holds the spurious WBA ‘gold’ title.

“Vergil is a contender now. We’re looking for a big year,” he said. “We are hoping to challenge for a world title, but he has a big test in Sammy Vargas. He is a rough and tough veteran that has fought the best. This is going to be a big test.”

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