One of the most anticipated fights on the boxing calendar has been hit with a delay.
WBA ‘Regular’ welterweight titlist Eimantas Stanionis was hospitalized and forced to undergo appendectomy surgery on Friday, thus postponing his planned title defense versus mandatory challenger Vergil Ortiz Jr. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the explosive battle of undefeated welterweights was due to take place on March 18 at a location to be determined in the greater Dallas area but will be rescheduled for an undisclosed April date.
“Never used to raise the concerns about being ill or being unhealthy, but yesterday the pain was too hard to handle and went straight to the hospital for a late evening emergency appendectomy surgery,” Stanionis stated through his verified social media account on Saturday. “My manager (Shelly Finkel) filed the request to postpone the fight.
“New date in a few days, it should be April. [Two] weeks of rest to my body and when I will be flying to USA to start the preparation for the fight.”
Stanionis (14-0, 9KOs; 1NC) was due to make the first defense of the secondary title he acquired in a hard-fought decision win over Radzhab Butaev. The fiercely contested twelve-round battle took place last April 16 at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.
The fight with Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) will mark the second straight trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth region for the 2016 Lithuania Olympian, assuming the location remains intact for the forthcoming rescheduled date.
Ortiz punched his way into contention following a ninth-round knockout of unbeaten Michael McKinson last August 13 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, mere minutes from his hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas. The undefeated knockout artist—who will turn just 25 in March— lobbied for his mandatory title status to be enforced last September. The WBA offered a guarantee that negotiations would begin if Stanionis did not secure a voluntary defense by November 16.
To his credit, Stanionis was eager to bump with Ortiz once it became clear that he would not get a fight before year’s end. Their respective teams were unable to reach a deal in time to avoid a December 12 purse bid hearing, which was won by Golden Boy Promotions ($2,300,000) who outpaced TGB Promotions ($2,100,010) to secure the rights to the eagerly awaited welterweight clash.
In theory, the winner is due a shot at the WBA ‘Super’ title held by Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22KOs), who also holds the IBF and WBC titles and is eyeing an April ring return. Spence’s fight was not yet announced, though a joint ruling by the WBA and WBC allowed for the latter to have their mandatory enforced first which would mean former unified titlist Keith Thurman (30-1, 22KOs) would be next in line for the unbeaten Texan.
Should the timelines hold true, then both welterweight fights will be taking place at roughly the same time. It remains to be seen whether it leads to the winners actually meeting, or an upgrade to full titlist by default for the Stanionis winner.
For now, all concerns are with Stanionis.
“I know everybody is upset, but [it’s God’s] plan,” stated Stanionis. “I always want to give fans exciting fights and I need [a] little bit time to get fully back from this little surgery.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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