By Craig Daly: Vergil Ortiz Jr. will challenge WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Eimantas Stanionis for his title this Saturday night in the main event at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Both fighters are coming off a long eleven-month layoff, and knowing which will be the fresher is challenging. DAZN will show the live boxing event at 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT.
For some reason, Golden Boy Promotions is getting a late start in the promotion of the Stanionio vs. Ortiz Jr event, which is surprising given that Vergil Jr, 25, could soon be their #1 star.
Stanionis-Ortiz Jr undercard
- Marlen Esparza vs. Gabriela Celeste Alaniz
- Floyd Schofield vs. Haskell Rhodes
- Eric Tudor vs. Reggie Harris Jr
- Tristan Kalkreuth vs. Joe Jones
- Darius Fulghum vs. Jeremiah Curtright
- Joseph Diaz vs. Jerry Perez
Former IBF super featherweight champion Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz (32-4-1, 15 KOs) will try to end his losing streak by going up against Jerry Perez (14-2, 11 KOs) in a ten round confidence booster type fight.
JoJo Diaz, 30, has lost his last three fights against these fighters: Mercito Gesta, William Zepeda, and Devin Haney.
Does Ortiz Jr have enough seasoning to defeat Stanionis? This is a big step up in class for Vergil Jr, and it’s not the ideal fight to be taking coming off a year layoff.
The winner of the Stanionis-Ortiz Jr contest will be looking for the best opportunity for a money fight against the Errol Spence Jr vs. Terence Crawford mega-bout, Keith Thurman, or Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.
Eimantas (14-0, 9 KOs) captured his WBA 147-lb title last year in April, beating Radzhab Butaev by a twelve round split decision victory over Radzhab Butaev.
For his part, Ortiz Jr defeated Michael McKinson by a ninth round knockout last year in August. Ortiz had planned on returning sooner, but he was sidelined with an illness.
The seven-year pro Ortiz has wins over Maurice Hooker, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Samuel Vargas, and Brad Solomon.
If Ortiz Jr loses, where does he go? Golden Boy has treated him with kid’s gloves all these years, matching him against exclusively soft jobs, and it could be a mistake on their part if they return to that type of opposition.
Stanionis must pressure Ortiz
“That’s a great fight. Two guys that fight similarly,” said Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis to Fight Hub TV when asked about his thoughts on the Stanionis vs. Ortiz Jr fight on Saturday.
“They both come forward, and neither one of them wants to back up. That’s definitely a great fight. I don’t know who’s going to win that fight.”
We saw Vergil get hurt in his fight with Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2021. If Kavaliauskas hadn’t run out of gas, he might have knocked out Ortiz in that fight.
“It’s a 50-50 fight, but whoever can do more things use their tools more,” said Ennis. “Whoever is more versatile all the way around will win that fight. They’re both kind of the same guy. They both come forward.
“They don’t move their heads too much. I think Ortiz has a little bit better jab than Stanionis, but that’s about it.
“I feel Stanionis has got to try and push Ortiz back and make him box. I think that’s the only thing he can do. You got to push them back and see if they can fight on their back foot,” said Ennis when asked how to make Ortiz box.
“I’m not looking past Roiman Villa, but if I win on Saturday night, I honestly don’t care who wins none of these fights coming up.
“I’ll take the winner out of Ortiz and Stanionis, and I’ll take the winner out of Spence and Bud. I don’t care whoever wins.
“I’ll fight the older guys, Keith Thurman and Ugas too. I don’t care. I just want to fight the top guys and show my skills and my ability to fight the top level. I don’t want to fight the bottom-tier guys. I feel the top guys will bring a different level out of me.
“If I win on Saturday night, the winner out of Stanionis and Ortiz, I’ll take that,” said Ennis.