Terence Crawford considers someone he has beaten to be the perfect opponent for Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s next fight.
The unbeaten WBO welterweight champion doesn’t consider Ortiz experienced enough to challenge him just yet. Egidijus Kavaliauskas, on the other hand, would be an appropriate opponent for Ortiz’s return to the ring, according to Crawford.
The 33-year-old Crawford would want to see how Ortiz fares against an aggressive, strong fighter like Kavaliauskas before seriously considering the young knockout artist as a future foe. Crawford noticed flaws in Ortiz’s game before he stopped Maurice Hooker on Saturday night in Fort Worth, Texas, that Crawford is fully confident he would exploit if he were to fight the Grand Prairie, Texas, native next.
“I just think, you know, they’re trying to move him too fast,” Crawford said during a recent appearance on “The Ak & Barak Show,” which streams weekdays on SiriusXM and DAZN. “And I think, you know, he need to [take] a couple of more fights with different caliber of fighters. You gotta think, [Hooker] only had one fight, one round, at welterweight. He just moved up. You know what I mean? So, he wasn’t really a [full] welterweight yet. Yeah, he got the height for welterweight, but he wasn’t a [full] welterweight yet.
“You know, I would like to see Vergil against like a ‘Mean Machine’ [Kavaliauskas], somebody that can punch. You know what I mean? Somebody that’s aggressive. Somebody that’s gonna push you back. Like you coming forward. Let somebody back him up. You know what I mean? Let’s see how he reacts to somebody punching him. You know what I mean? Because Mo, he can punch. And you seen, you know, I seen him having success. You know, somebody taking [Ortiz] into deep waters, being that he’s never been past, you know, the seventh or eighth [round]. You know, so, there’s a lot of questions to be asked.”
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, stopped Kavaliauskas in the ninth round of their December 2019 bout at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs), who was Crawford’s mandatory challenger, tested Crawford early in their fight – most memorably in the third round, when his right hand appeared to affect Crawford.
A resilient Crawford recovered quickly from what some suggested should’ve counted as a knockdown and regained complete control of their scheduled 12-round bout. Crawford floored Kavaliauskas once in the seventh round and twice in the ninth round before referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped their fight.
The 23-year-old Ortiz (17-0, 17 KOs), the WBO’s second-ranked challenger for Crawford’s championship, dropped Dallas’ Hooker (27-2-3, 18 KOs) once apiece in the sixth and seventh rounds. Hooker hurt his right hand before he went down during the seventh round, but Ortiz appeared well on his way toward a more conventional technical knockout by that point.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.