Promoting a hot prospect can be like walking a tightrope across Niagara Falls -- one slip and all the work, money and championship dreams could be washed away in a split second.
Match the prospect too tough too soon or too easy for too long, and failure is virtually guaranteed. Making the right move at the right time is never an easy decision.
Undefeated junior welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr. (9-0, 9 KOs) appears to be taking a relatively safe step when he faces Juan Salgado in a 10-round bout on Saturday at Belasco Theater in Los Angeles.
While it is true that Salgado (27-8-1, 1 NC, 16 KOs) is a two-time former junior lightweight titleholder, the 33-year-old veteran hasn't held a title since March 2013 and has lost seven of his eight most recent bouts.
The one thing that Salgado, of Mexico City, has going for him is durability. Only three of his eight losses have been knockouts. He's gone 12 rounds on six occasions and 10 rounds five times. Ortiz, on the other hand, has never been past the third round.
Ortiz, from Dallas, Texas, was trained during the latter part of his amateur career and for all nine previous pro fights by Joel Diaz, but has made the switch to Robert Garcia for the Salgado match.
"We've been working together now for about six weeks. He's training at my gym here in Riverside," said Garcia. "He's been sparring with my brother, Mikey. He needs that type of sparring, somebody experienced, somebody that knows tricks."
Salgado has undoubtedly learned a lot of tricks during his 15 years as a pro, but whether or not they will lead to a victory over a young stud like Ortiz is doubtful. For Ortiz the match is more a brisk stroll in the park than a precarious high-wire walk.
True, the Mexican pulled a huge upset in October 2009, knocking out previously undefeated Jorge Linares in the first round to win a junior lightweight title. But nine years of fighting world-class competition since then has worn him down and slowed his reflexes. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that Salgado will extend his 22-year-old adversary long enough for Ortiz to get some much-needed rounds under his belt.
"I really don't see Juan Salgado as an 'opponent' -- he's a former world champion. He's a hell of a fighter, an experienced fighter," said Garcia.
"But Vergil is something special. With the power and dedication that this kid has, he should come through this fight. I don't expect it to be an easy fight, but one punch could end it."
In the co-feature, undefeated Hector "El Finito" Tanajara Jr. (13-0, 5 KOs) takes on Roger "Kid" Gutierrez (18-1-1, 15 KOs) in a lightweight bout scheduled for 8 rounds.
The 21-year-old Tanajara had a very successful amateur career, winning 126 of 136 bouts, including gold medals at the 2015 U.S. National Championship, 2014 National PAL Championship and the 2014 Ringside World Tournament. The San Antonio, Texas, native turned pro August 2015 with a first-round knockout of Thomas Deleon.
"I'm a boxer-puncher. I just like to stay smart and use my reach," said Tanajara. "It wasn't that much of an adjustment from the amateurs to the pros for me. I always had that style. It's just been more sitting down on my punches, just getting the little tricks of the professional game, and getting experience sparring with professionals like Mikey [Garcia] and guys who have gone 10, 12 rounds.
Gutierrez, from Maracaibo, Venezuela, reportedly had 108 amateur fights with 95 wins and 13 losses.
He suffered his only pro loss in his U.S. debut, when Rene Alvarado stopped him in the seventh round in July 2017. Since then, Gutierrez has rebounded with four knockout victories.
"My style is aggressive, moving forward, but I also box and use lateral movement," said the 23-year-old Gutierrez. "I think my opponent is a good fighter, but I invite him to fight, and not run or clinch, and give a great show for the public and ESPN."