#1 WBO welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. (18-0, 18 KOs) stayed unbeaten in stopping Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) in the eighth round to keep his KO streak alive with a great performance at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Ortiz was hurt in the second round by ‘Mean Machine’ and was close to being stopped. However, Ortiz survived the round and came back to drop Kavaliauskas in the third round with a jab.
In the 8th round, Vergil Jr. took the fight to the inside to drop him several times to score the knockout. The first knockdown was a body shot that put Kavaliauskas down.
After that, Ortiz Jr went for the kill, dropping him repeatedly until the fight was halted by referee Lawrence Cole.
In all total, Vergil Jr knocked Kavaliauskas down four times in the fight.
IBF light flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (37-2, 32 KOs) crushed Israel Vazquez (10-5-2, 7 KOs) by a lightning-quick first round knockout in a non-title fight. Alvarado blasted Vazquez to the canvas with a hard right, and the fight was then stopped.
George Rincon defeats Nikolai Buzolin by an eight round unanimous decision. The scores: 80-72, 80-72, 80-72.
Light welterweight Alex Martin (17-3, 6 KOs) dominated Josec Ruiz (23-5-3, 16 KOs) in pounding out a decisive 10 round unanimous decision. Judges’ scores 100-90.
Ortiz Jr, 23, will be attempting to show that he’s the guy to take over the division once the aging lions Terence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, and Errol Spence Jr fade into oblivion.
Vergil Jr. needs a win over Kavaliauskas tonight to stamp his ticket for a world title shot against WBO welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford in 2022 if he’s still the champion by then.
Ortiz Jr will be getting a trial run for a title shot in facing former world title challenger Kavaliauskas tonight, and it should be fun to see if he can prove that he’s ready for the next step.
In Vergil’s last fight against former WBO 140-lb champion Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker last March, he put in an uneven performance, looking good at times, but struggling a lot before knocking him out in the seventh.
It was anything but an impressive performance by Vergil, as he was hit by everything that Hooker threw his way. If not for Vergil having great punch resistance, he would have been stopped on the night.
Ortiz Jr. must look better tonight against ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas for him to be taken seriously as a viable opponent for Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) to defend his WBO 147-lb title against next year.
The good news for Vergil Jr is that he’s catching Kavaliauskas at a perfect time with him coming off an 11th-month layoff, which is a long time for any fighter to be out of the ring.
Kavaliauskas gave Crawford pure hell in their fight in December 2019, dropping the WBO champion in the fifth round and hurting him several times before running out of gas in the ninth and getting stopped.
In his last fight, Kavaliauskas bounced back with a nice eighth-round stoppage over the once-beaten Mikael Zewski last September.
Vergil Ortiz Jr. (17-0, 17 KOs) takes a step up tonight against Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) in a 12 round fight at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Fight action begins at 8:00 p.m. ET./5:00 p.m. PT.