By Keith Idec
Egidijus Kavaliauskas took another step toward securing a shot at Terence Crawford on Friday night.
Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas knocked out Roberto Arriaza in the third round of their scheduled 10-round WBO welterweight elimination match in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. With Crawford seated at ringside, the 30-year-old Kavaliauskas improved to 21-0 and recorded his 17th knockout on the Maurice Hooker-Alex Saucedo undercard at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Kavaliauskas’ knockout caused controversy in the ring afterward because the undefeated contender clearly hit Nicaragua’s Arriaza when he was down.
A right hand by Kavaliauskas connected to the side of Arriaza’s head and sent him to one knee with six seconds to go in the third round. Kavaliauskas also hit Arriaza with a left hand when Arriaza was down, but referee Gerald Ritter didn’t call it a foul.
A dazed Arriaza didn’t attempt to get up and Ritter counted to 10. The official time of the stoppage was exactly three minutes of the third round.
Arriaza landed a counter left hand late in the second round that appeared to open a cut over Kavaliauskas’ right eye. Kavaliauskas bled badly from that cut in the second and third rounds.
Kavaliauskas caught Arriaza with a right-left combination with just under 50 seconds to go in the first round. Kavaliauskas spent much of those first three minutes moving backward, as Arriaza pressured him, yet couldn’t land many effective punches.
Despite hitting the previously unbeaten Arriaza when he was down, Kavaliauskas was more impressive against an unknown yet dangerous puncher than he was during his previous appearance. Kavaliauskas won that bout by unanimous decision, but looked ordinary during that 10-round victory over the Dominican Republic’s Juan Carlos Abreu (21-4-1, 19 KOs) on July 7 in Fresno, California.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.