By: Hans Themistode
Throughout most of his young career, Vergil Ortiz Jr. has craved for someone, anyone, to give him a true fight. With a jam-packed crowd filing into their seats at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, the 23-year-old was given just that, a fight.
As Egidijus Kavaliauskas sauntered his way to the ring, the former 147-pound title challenger, exuded an extreme amount of confidence. The Lithuanians self-belief only grew after a strong opening round.
In most instances, considering the overwhelming power of Ortiz Jr., his opponents have seldom been willing to stand there and trade with him. In the case of Kavaliauskas, he stood his ground and pushed out a strong jab. At times, Ortiz Jr. (18-0, 18 KOs) seemed bothered by the firepower that was coming in his direction.
As the bell rung to signal the beginning of the second round, Kavaliauskas (22-2-1, 18 KOs) came out aggressive. Unwilling to cede ground, Ortiz Jr. moved forward and found himself right in the wheelhouse of his man. Kavaliauskas took full advantage of his over-anxious opponent and landed a right uppercut that visibly shook Ortiz Jr. Kavaliauskas quickly followed up and landed several unanswered shots.
Shortly after his barrage, Ortiz Jr. hit the deck but it was ultimately ruled a slip. With the 23-year-old seemingly hurt for the first time in his career, he turned up the pressure in the third. The hard-hitting Dallas native found plenty of success as he nailed the former two-time Olympian several times over.
Their showdown ultimately went from a tactical boxing match, to a back and forth brawl. Unafraid to engage in Ortiz Jr.’s barnburner style of attack, Kavaliauskas fought fire with fire and found himself on the winning end of plenty exchanges. Still, while the 23-year-old ate plenty of leather, he began moving closer and closer.
In a moment’s notice, as Kavaliauskas continued to enjoy what appeared to be a round he was banking, Ortiz Jr. sent him to the canvas, courtesy of the straight right hand.
Under normal circumstances, Ortiz Jr. would waste no time in going on the attack. But, considering the damage Kavaliauskas dished out to him earlier in their contest, the Dallas product appeared content with taking his time and boxing on the outside.
Things between the pair continued to get heated during the midway point of their contest. Ortiz Jr. seemed to be getting stronger but Kavaliauskas was still very much in it. The long-standing 147-pound contender took the center of the ring and refused to back up an inch. A grinning Ortiz Jr. walked right into the mug of his much older opponent and traded punches, much to the delight of the crowd.
A visibly tired Kavaliauskas trudged out slowly out of his corner to begin the eighth round. Ortiz Jr., on the other, bounced on his toes and came out strong. He immediately dropped Kavaliauskas, something that would become a constant theme throughout the round. The Lithuanian quickly rose to his feet but found himself tasting the canvas once again.
Kavaliauskas showed plenty of heart by climbing back to his feet once again but was immediately sent to the ground once more, this time for good.
With the win, Ortiz Jr. made it clear that for his next showdown, he would love a matchup against WBO belt holder, Terence Crawford.
“I’m ready to fight whoever,” said Ortiz Jr. following his win. “I don’t care if it’s Crawford, [Errol] Spence, [Manny] Pacquiao you name it. I’ll fight anyone.”
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