Ortiz rolls to TKO win; Lawson disputes stoppage

Boxing

Vergil Ortiz Jr. scored a first-round TKO victory Saturday in Las Vegas in a stoppage that was vehemently disputed by his opponent, Frederick Lawson.

Ortiz, in his first fight in 17 months, buckled Lawson with a jab that backed him up. With Lawson lying on the ropes, Ortiz (20-0, 20 KOs) threw a flurry of left hooks to the body and overhand rights until referee Tony Weeks halted the action at 2 minutes, 33 seconds of the opening round.

Weeks told DAZN’s Beto Duran that he stopped the bout because he saw Lawson’s eyes roll into the back of his head. Lawson, a 34-year-old Ghanaian who entered the fight as a huge underdog, passionately protested.

“I think that he got saved,” said Ortiz, who was making his junior middleweight debut. “I was hurting him with all the jabs. I wasn’t really putting anything behind it. … I love to fight. I wish I could have kept going. I need the rounds.”

Since March 2022, Ortiz has withdrawn from three fights due to health issues related to rhabdomyolysis, a condition that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood.

Ortiz was rated No. 3 by ESPN at 147 pounds when he was set to meet Eimantas Stanionis last year. That bout was postponed three times; first after Stanionis underwent an emergency appendectomy and then twice due to Ortiz’s rhabdomyolysis recurrence.

With his health restored, Ortiz returned Saturday at a 156-pound catchweight shake-off-the-rust bout. And he did so with renowned trainer Robert Garcia back in his corner following a split in 2021.

Ortiz, a Dallas-area native, maintained his perfect knockout record with the victory over Lawson (30-4, 22 KOs). Now he wants his first world title shot.

“I’m ready for anyone out there,” said Ortiz, whose breakout 2021 campaign featured inside-the-distance wins over Maurice Hooker and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. “It feels like I’m back to doing what I usually do. This is my calling; this is what I live for.”

Ortiz called out Tim Tszyu, the WBO junior middleweight champion.

“With all respect, I would love to fight you,” Ortiz said in his call out. “I think you’re a helluva fighter and let’s make this happen. … I want to fight the best.”

Ortiz’s promoter, Hall of Fame fighter Oscar De La Hoya, said Ortiz “will even go to Australia to fight Tim Tszyu.”

Tszyu, the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, issued a response to Ortiz in a post on X, welcoming him to the 154-pound division and saying, “I’m always keen for a modern day classic.”

Barroso stuns Davies in one round

Ismael Barroso won the WBA interim junior welterweight title in stunning fashion with a first-round TKO victory over Ohara Davies.

The 40-year-old Venezuelan floored Davies twice in Round 1 and the 31-year-old Londoner was in no shape to continue when the referee stopped it.

In Barroso’s last fight, he suffered a highly controversial TKO loss to Rolly Romero. Weeks was also the ref in that WBA title fight. If Romero defends his WBA 140-pound title vs. Ryan Garcia next, Barroso (25-4-2, 23 KOs) would be the mandatory challenger for the winner.

Davies (25-3, 18 KOs) had recently signed with De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Earlier Saturday, the promotion formally announced the signing of former 140-pound champion Jose Ramirez, who was promoted by Top Rank following an Olympic run.

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