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Vergil Ortiz Jr vs. Egidijus ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas preview for Saturday, Aug.14th on Dazn

Image: Vergil Ortiz Jr vs. Egidijus 'Mean Machine' Kavaliauskas preview for Saturday, Aug.14th on Dazn

By Matt Lieberman: Mikey Garcia believes unbeaten welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr (17-0, 17 KOs) has the perfect match-up in front of him for this Saturday, August 14th, in his 12-round headliner attraction against former 147-lb world title challenger Egidijus ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs).

Vergil, 23, is coming off a war with former WBO 140-lb champion Maurice Hooker, having stopped him in the seventh round last March.

That was a fight in which Ortiz Jr wasn’t 100%, as he was coming off of a bad COVID-19 illness that has sapped his strength, leaving him at approximately 70% to take on the heavy-handed Hooker.

Vergil Ortiz to give fans a chance to compare himself to Crawford

In taking on 33-year-old Kavaliauskas, Vergil will get a chance to let boxing fans compare his performance against the Lithuanian to that of WBO welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford, who had all he could handle against him in their fight in December 2019.

Although Crawford eventually halted the two-time Olympian Kavaliauskas in the ninth round, he was twice staggered during the fight.

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The fight showed that Crawford’s ability to take punches is no better than that of many average fighters with less talent. In other words, Crawford can dish out the punishment, but he’s not able to take it in return.

That obviously gives hope for #1 WBO Vergil that he’ll dethrone the aging Crawford soon when the time comes for him to challenge him for his title, which could happen in 2022.

This Saturday night, Vergil will be defending his WBO International 147-lb title against ‘Mean Machine at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

It’s debatable whether this is a true step up for Ortiz Jr from his last fight against Hooker. Although ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas is a good fighter, he’s got serious stamina problems exposed first by Ray Robinson and then later by Crawford.

Robinson arguably beat Kavaliauskas in March 2019 in a fight that was shockingly scored a 10 round draw by the judges. The many boxing fans who saw the fight had Robinson winning a wide decision against the A-side Kavaliauskas.

One judge scored it 97-93 for Robinson, the same score this writer scored for the fight. Kavaliauskas looked good in the first couple of rounds but then gassed and was outboxed and outworked by Robinson.

As long as Vergil Ortiz can handle the early power shots from Kavaliauskas, he’ll likely wear him out and score a stoppage by the midpoint.

Ortiz’s fast pace will be a problem for ‘Mean Machine’

The fight likely won’t last into the ninth round, as we saw with Crawford vs. Kavaliauskas, because Vergil hits harder than the Nebraska native, and he’s a lot busier.

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He won’t let Kavaliauskas get rest breaks by fighting at a slow pace the way Crawford did. With Crawford, he had no choice but to play it safe because he was getting buzzed repeatedly from the heavy shots from ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas

Mikey Garcia: Vergil being moved correctly

“It’s still in the developmental stages sometimes,” said Mikey Garcia to K.O. Artists Sports on whether Vergil Ortiz Jr is taking the right step up in facing Kavaliauskas.

“It’s not so early in his [Vergil Jr] career. It’s the right step at the right time for him to show everybody that he is contender-ready, that he is ready for a title fight.

“With ‘Mean Machine’ being his next opponent, his only loss is to Terence [Crawford] in a good fight where he had some success in the earlier rounds also. I think it’s the perfect match-up, and I think Vergil wins and shows everybody that he is moving in the right direction to challenge for a world really soon.

“He’s [Vergil Ortiz Jr.] is young, but he’s right at his prime right now,” Mikey continued when asked if Vergil is ready for Crawford after facing ‘Mean Machine’ on Saturday. “Whether they fight next or in another fight or two, that’s up to their management and promotion.

“Sometimes, the deals don’t happen. Sometimes fights don’t happen because of the business behind it, the promotion and the management and the networks, and that gets involved. Sometimes that complicates things.

“But he [Vergil] is moving in the right direction in fighting guys like ‘Mean Machine’ or another former champion soon.

Those are fights that he [Ortiz Jr] needs to stay active with to get that world title shot finally, and he could be ready already. I think he’s already ready physically and in his mindset and everything. He’s ready,” Mikey said of Vergil Jr.

The last opponent for Ortiz Jr, Maurice Hooker, was perfect for him, especially that he was fighting while not 100%. It’ll be interesting to see Ortiz’s performances against ‘Mean Machine’ on Saturday now that he’s fully recovered from COVID-19 and at full capacity.

Vergil could be ready for Crawford in the next fight

“But sometimes there are doubts because people haven’t seen him in there yet with the top guys, and that’s why he needs to keep fighting these types of fights,” said Mikey about the importance of Vergil Ortiz Jr needing to continue to fight guys like ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas.

Image: Vergil Ortiz Jr vs. Egidijus 'Mean Machine' Kavaliauskas preview for Saturday, Aug.14th on Dazn

“He could be ready for Terence in his next fight. Terence is probably one of the very, very best pound-for-pound, but he’s also been there long enough, sometimes [he might be] getting older.

“I’m not talking bad, but he [Crawford] hasn’t faced any of the top, top guys that people want to see him with. So maybe that’s something that we [Vergil Ortiz Jr] can take advantage of with Vergil.

“Vergil is a strong, solid welterweight and young and hungry. He ain’t no opponent. He’s there to actually win. He ain’t a guy that goes in as the opponent, knowing they’re going to get beat.

“So that’s a good match-up for those reasons,” said Mikey about Vergil possibly being ready to dethrone the soon-to-be 34-year-old Crawford.

We’ll have to see whether Crawford’s promoters at Top Rank are willing to make the fight with Vergil Ortiz in 2022. Also, there’s a chance that Crawford could lose his WBO title to Shawn Porter in October.

That fight needs to play out before we know if Crawford will be in the picture for Ortiz Jr to face next year or not.

Other fights on the Vergil Ortiz vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas card:

  • Wilfredo Mendez vs. Carlos Buitrago
  • Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Danielito Zorrilla
  • Alex Martin vs. Josec Ruiz
  • Felix Alvarado vs. Israel Vazquez
  • George Rincon vs. Nikolai Buzolin
  •  Alex Rincon vs. Sanny Duversonne



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