Vergil Ortiz to meet Egidijus Kavaliauskas in August
Rising welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr (17-0, 17 KO’s) has announced his next date and opposition. On August 14, Ortiz will test his might against Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KO’s) in Texas. The hard-hitting Texan has long since publicly expressed his interest in facing WBO World welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford. Unfortunately for Team Ortiz, Crawford saw little reason to go toe to toe with him.
While Bud may not want to test his skills with Ortiz, the notion of the match-up is certainly not far-fetched. Ortiz is presently ranked #1 (WBO) #4 (WBC) and #15 (IBF), so with his WBO standings, he has a direct line to Crawford, anyway. With his hopes of facing Bud momentarily dashed, Ortiz will have to settle on facing a recent Crawford opponent.
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The Mean Machine has been out of the ring for almost a solid year and is only one bout removed from fighting Crawford himself. To date, that high profile loss is the most notable prizefight of his professional career. Naturally, he would have wanted to secure the win! In the build-up to the Bud dustup, many griped that Kavaliauskas was not on par with Crawford’s skill and mocked him as an opponent.
Yet, once in the ring, the Lithuanian boxer had his moments of success. Some even believe that Mean Machine was cheated out of a deserved knockdown in the second round. Ultimately though, the criticism was verified when Bud turned up the pressure and knocked Mean Machine out in the ninth. Since that loss, Kavaliauskas rebounded with a TKO win over Mikael Zewski in September 2020. Even with the loss to Crawford on his ledger, the Mean Machine still has the solid welterweight standings of #5 (WBO) and #9 (WBC).
A win over the highly touted Vergil Ortiz would go a long way to validate the notion that he is truly an elite fighter. By the same token, there is obviously going to be a comparison of Ortiz’s performance against Crawford’s. Provided that the Texan can handle Kavaliauskas, he will have one more reason to say he has arrived. On the other hand, if Ortiz struggles with Kavaliauskas, then his reputation is likely to take a major hit.
By: Bakari Simpson