By Brad Slotnick: Unbeaten #1 WBO welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr (17-0, 17 KOs) will be taking a step up in class against #5 WBO former world title challenger Egidijus ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) on August 14th at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Both Steve Kim and Lance Pugmire reporting the Ortiz Jr vs. Kavaliauskas fight.
Ortiz will need to put in a better performance against Kavaliauskas than he did in his last fight against former WBO 140-lb champion Maurice Hooker last March.
Vergil Jr stopped Hooker in the seventh round, but he was hit a lot in that fight and marked up around the face.
If Ortiz Jr has problems beating Kavaliauskas, it would be smart for his promoters at Golden Boy Promotions to get him more experience before they stage a fight between him and one of the world champions at 147.
Facing ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas, 32, will give Ortiz a chance to let the boxing world compare how he does against him to that of Terence Crawford, who struggled early on with his power.
Kavaliauskas dropped Crawford in the fifth round with a hard right hand to the head, but it was ruled a slip by the referee, who blew the call. In the slow-motion replay, fans could see that Crawford was definitely hurt when hitting the deck.
Kavaliauskas wasn’t able to finish the job, allowing Crawford to come back to knock him down in the seventh and twice more in the ninth to get the knockout.
Kavaliauskas bounced back from the loss by beating Mikael Zewski by an eighth-round knockout last year in September 2020.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya views the fight for the 23-year-old Ortiz Jr as an excellent step to prepare him for a fight against WBO 147-lb champion Terence Crawford.
De La Hoya doesn’t want to put Vergil Jr in a fight with the 33-year-old Crawford just yet, but if he looks good in this fight, he could be ready.
Crawford is likely to be busy in early 2022, possibly facing the winner of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Errol Spence Jr fight. But if Crawford is still the WBO title-holder after the smoke clears, Ortiz Jr could face him.
“Done deal: Vergil Ortiz vs. Mean Machine Egidijus Kavaliauskas Aug. 14 at the Dallas Cowboys Star in Frisco, Texas. First reported by @SteveKim323,” said Lance Pugmire.
“Oscar told me, ‘We’re moving Vergil toward Terence Crawford, but we can’t just send him right in there now … this is a good step for him to get there.”
Golden Boy are hopeful that Ortiz can become their new flagship fighter with their company. They lost Canelo Alvarez recently, and Ryan Garcia has failed to step in and take over as the new mega-star for Golden Boy. Depending on how Vergil Jr does against ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas