Source: Unbeaten rising star Vergil Ortiz Jr. to face Maurice Hooker

Undefeated rising welterweight star Vergil Ortiz Jr. will take a step up in competition as he is set to face fellow contender Maurice Hooker in a bout that is still being finalized, a source told ESPN.

The bout is expected to take place March 20, a source told ESPN. The firm date is the final step to be completed before an announcement of the bout, which is expected to take place in Dallas and air on DAZN.

Ortiz (16-0, 16 KOs) was ESPN's and Ring Magazine's 2019 Prospect of the Year. His knockout power and impressive skill put him among a handful of young fighters competing for prime billing in the years to come. With Canelo Alvarez's departure, Ortiz, 22, has become one of Golden Boy Promotions' most promising fighters.

Ortiz is coming off a seventh-round TKO victory over veteran Sam Vargas in July -- the first pro bout in Ortiz's career that has lasted beyond six rounds. But he'll be facing his stiffest competition yet in Hooker, who after having issues making weight is moving up from junior welterweight to take this bout.

Hooker (27-1-3) has a significant experience and length advantage over Ortiz, helping make the bout an intriguing test. Hooker, 31, hasn't fought since a December 2019 first-round TKO over Uriel Perez. Before that, he suffered his lone loss to junior welterweight unified champion Jose Ramirez by sixth-round TKO.