Vergil Ortiz Jr. will make his 154-pound debut against Fredrick Lawson on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, Golden Boy Promotions announced Thursday.
Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) hasn’t competed since August 2022 as he dealt with the effects of rhabdomyolysis, a condition that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood.
Ortiz was ESPN’s No. 3 welterweight. He was set to step up in competition with a 147-pound fight against Eimantas Stanionis, a bout that was postponed three times. The bout was first postponed after Stanionis underwent an emergency appendectomy in January.
Ortiz, 25, will now look to win his first title at junior middleweight rather than welterweight. The Texan will shake off 17 months of ring rust against Lawson (30-3, 22 KOs), a 34-year-old journeyman from Accra, Ghana.
“Headlining my first card in Las Vegas after over a year of inactivity is just what I needed,” Ortiz said. “I am very motivated to put on a great show like I always do, and to show everyone that I’m still here.”
Ortiz broke out in 2021 with inside-the-distance wins over Maurice Hooker and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Now, Ortiz will look to carry his vaunted power to a new weight class.
“Vergil is ready to come back stronger than ever to become a world champion in this sport,” said Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “He’s got the heart and dedication and is on a mission to be a world titleholder.”