By Dan Ambrose: Vergil Ortiz Jr will be coming off a near-year layoff when he challenges WBA welterweight champion Eimantas Stanionis this Saturday night.
The 25-year-old Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) has slowly been building his career for this moment to fight for a world title, and it’s finally here against the unbeaten Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs), who some boxing fans feel is an identical type of fighter, only a little older at 28.
Stanionis vs. Ortiz Jr will headline at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. In the 10-round co-feature, unbeaten lightweight contender Floyd Schofield meets Haskell Rhodes.
Ortiz last fought in August of last year, so he’s got some ring rust he needs to get out of his system, but he’s got the ideal opponent to give him some rounds in Stanionis.
Ortiz is someone that Golden Boy Promotion believe they can turn into a star, and he’s in an excellent position to accomplish that once Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford move up to 154.
Vergil feels that he’s got a good two years at 147 before he’ll need to go up to junior middleweight to campaign in that weight class. If he’s lucky, he’ll catch Spence & Crawford before they retire. Ortiz feels that a fight between him and Spence would fill the AT& Stadium in Arlington.
“They’re similar in some ways, but not they’re not as similar as you think they are,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr to Fight Hub TV about the similarities between Eimantas Stanionis and Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
“It’s difficult to put into words, but it’s they’re two completely different fighters. Yeah, they both like to come forward, right, but it’s just the way they go about it,” said Ortiz.
This is a dangerous opponent for Ortiz to be fighting coming off a long layoff. Is Vergil Jr ready for Stanionis? We’ll find out on Saturday. The fight will be shown live on DAZN.
If Ortiz Jr loses to Stanionis, there will be a lot of second-guessing about the wisdom of making this fight after a layoff.
“To a person who doesn’t watch boxing all the time or isn’t a big-time fan, they’re going to see two go-forward fighters and think they
fight the same,” said Ortiz.
“People can expect the same guy. Some people say that one day I’m going to be the best, and hopefully, that’s the case. I want to put those hopes & dreams back into their minds.
“I’ve been inactive, and obviously, that’s not my choice. I would fight four times a year if I could. I just want to remind everybody that I’m still here. I wouldn’t say there’s any pressure at all.
“I think I had more pressure on my driving test than in any of my boxing fights. I think that’s one of the few times I felt pressure. I just learned parallel parking. I don’t feel pressure in boxing. I was born to do this.
“This is what I’ve trained every day of my life for. So, I don’t feel any pressure because I know I’m going to do what I got to do.
“I would say three years is out of the question, but one or two more years, I could definitely see that happen,” said Ortiz Jr when asked how much longer he’ll stay at 147.
“I feel like I did really good in that fight besides the second round,” said Vergil about his clash against ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas in August 2021. “I thought that was a pretty good performance.
“What did I do wrong in that fight? There were a lot of punches where I shot from the outside, and I got caught. I see better now. I got boxing lasik,” said Ortiz Jr about how he’s improved since his fights with ‘Mean Machine’ and Michael McKinson.