Who’s next for Kavaliauskas? Vergil Ortiz Jr or Shawn Porter?
By Chris Williams: Egidijus Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) displayed his formidable punching power in knocking out Mikael Zewski (34-2, 23 KOs) in round eight last Saturday night, but his defense was nowhere to be found.
Kavaliauskas’s crushing right-hand bailed him out of a challenging situation with his come from behind knockout of the Canadian Zewski at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The only name that Kavaliauskas mentioned after the fight was WBO welterweight champion, Terence Crawford. Unfortunately, he’s the least likely guy that he has a chance of fighting.
The guys that the 32-year-old Kavaliauskas needs to be focusing on are the fighters that are ranked above him in the World Boxing Organization’s top 10 rankings at 147.
Kavaliauskas can forget about Crawford
The two-time Olympian Kavaliauskas was knocked out in the 9th round by Crawford on December 14th last year. Although beating Zewski, 31, was a nice win for him, Kavaliauskas needs to beat some of the higher-ranked contenders for him to be considered by Crawford for a return bout.
Better options for Kavaliauskas’ next fight would be one of these fighters:
- Vergil Ortiz Jr
- Shawn Porter
- David Avanesyan
- Keith Thurman
- Mikey Garcia
It’s incredibly doubtful that Top Rank would be able to get any of those fighters to face Kavaliauskas next. He’s a tough out for anyone, but the biggest problem is that most of those guys are with Premier Boxing Champions, and they won’t see any upside in crossing the pond to face a puncher like Kavaliauskas.
It’ll still be worth a try for Top Rank to attempt to get one of those fighters to face Kavaliauskas because he needs a highly ranked contender to move up in the rankings.
Ray Robinson = best option for Kavaliauskas
Easily the best option would be for Top Rank to set up a rematch between Kavaliauskas and Ray Robinson, as there was a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding their fight in 2019.
The judges scored it a 10 round majority draw, but the fans viewed the fight as an easy decision win for Robinson (24-3-2, 12 KOs). The judges scored it 95-95, 97-93 for Robinson and 95-95. Boxing News 24 scored the fight 97-93 for Robinson.
He outworked Kavaliauskas the same way that Zewski did in the first six rounds before he ran into trouble in the 7th. The difference was, Kavaliauskas never hurt Robinson, and he dominated the entire fight.
Given the controversy over the results of that fight, Kavaliauskas owes it to himself and the fans to clear up the debate by fighting Robinson again and proving that he’s the better fighter. However, it remains doubtful that Top Rank will take the risk of letting Kavaliauskas fight Robinson again because they saw the same fight that everyone else did.
Robinson was like a better version of Crawford in getting the better of Kavaliauskas in almost every round of the fight. You hate to say it, but if Top Rank takes the chance of letting Kavaliauskas tangle with Robinson again, they may regret it later. Hence, they’re probably going to keep Kavaliauskas far, far away from him.
Top Rank is trying to build Kavaliauskas up again, but Robinson would likely spoil their plans, leaving them with a fighter that is badly tarnished.
In an ideal world, Top Rank would be willing to take the risk of putting Kavaliauskas back in with Robinson in a sink or swim situation. If he loses, then they can cut their losses and move on.
At 32-years-old, what are the chances of Kavaliauskas making big improvements on the defensive side of his game? I would say very slim to the point where it would be possible.
Mean Machine looked vulnerable
Kavaliauskas was on his way to losing last Saturday night against Zewski when he pulled out the victory with a hail Mary right uppercut in the 7th.
If Zewski hadn’t been bent forward in a wrong position in the last ten seconds of the round, he wouldn’t have been hit with that uppercut, and he could have perhaps sailed through the previous three rounds with a decision victory.
Kavaliauskas’ performance against Zewski was shaky enough to make it potentially risky to put him in with almost any credible contender in the top 15 at 147. If Top Rank matches Kavaliauskas against someone with talent, he’ll probably lose, and then they’ll be stuck with a guy whose career is on the rocks.
Moving down to 140 would work for Kavaliauskas
Perhaps the best thing for Top Rank to do would be to convince Kavaliauskas to trim down a little and campaign at 140. With Kavaliauskas’ punching power, he would be dangerous for anyone in the light-welterweight division.
Once Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez move up to 147, Kavaliauskas would be in an excellent position to win a belt at 140. Until then, those would be tough fights for Kavaliauskas due to his lack of defense and his low work rate.
To beat any of the top fighters at 140 or 147, Kavaliauskas has got to be able to throw more punches because he’s too economical with his shots. When Kavaliauskas isn’t throwing shots, he’s getting hit repeatedly to the head with everything that his opponents throw at him.
Egidijus gets hit too much
Kavaliauskas virtually blocks everything thrown at him with his face, and that’s more than a little troubling. He’s like a doorstop. He can’t go far taking shots like the ones he was getting hit with by Zewski last night, as he’s not going to be able to take those punches against powerful punchers.
Last night’s fight between Kavaliauskas and Zewski was fun to watch, as neither showed much interest in defending themselves.
They were both getting hit with virtually every punch that was thrown their way, which is kind of troubling. If your Kavaliauskas, he didn’t make a good argument based on this performance that he’s improved since losing to Crawford.
If anything, you can say that Kavaliauskas has dropped off a little. Had Zewski not been hurt in the 7th round, there’s a perfect chance that he would have cruised to a 10 round decision victory over Kavaliauskas.
You can certainly say that a promising welterweight would have beaten Kavaliauskas hands down last night based on how he looked.
He’s got the power to be a good fighter, but he’s not going to be able to beat the top 147-pounders with his inability to get out of the way of punches.
Again, it would be a wise move for Kavaliauskas to move down in weight to the light-welterweight division where his lack of defense won’t be such a handicap. At 140, it won’t matter as much for Kavaliauskas to getting tagged so often because his offense will be his defense.
If Kavaliauskas stays at 147, his future out look is dim. I don’t see him doing well at all, and it’s doubtful that he’ll ever win a world title.
Given long road still ahead of Kavaliauskas in trying to get in position for another title shot at 147, he’s better off moving down in weight to 140.
Immediatelly upon arrivaint at light-weltereweight, Kavaliauskas would be the biggest puncher in the division by far. He would be a big fish in a small pond filled with mostly guppies.
Zewski made a mistake
Kavaliauskas landed a right-hand uppercut in the 7th round that shocked Zewski, and from there, he poured it on with a flurry of shots to put him down in a heap in the last 10 seconds. At the beginning of round eight, Kavaliauskas connected with two right hands that put Zewski down. The referee then stopped the fight.
“I was putting pressure on him, and I saw him slowing down round by round. And I saw him getting weaker and weaker. I was just blocking his punches and not feeling his power.
“And I don’t think Crawford has any other choices at welterweight. I can ask his team, with all due respect, to give me a rematch because these guys have no opponents yet,” said Kavaliauskas
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