Eimantas Stanionis never doubted that he could beat Radzhab Butaev.
What the unbeaten Lithuanian boxer was never able to fully visualize was the feeling that would come with the best win of his young career—and the impact it would have on his fans back home.
“I think there will be so many young fighters from Lithuania who join the sport because of me,” Stanionis told BoxingScene.com and a small group of reporters while discussing his April 16 points win over Butaev. “I am very proud of that. I will for sure give back to the younger generation.”
Stanionis (14-0, 9KOs; 1ND) claimed a secondary version of the WBA welterweight title in a twelve-round split decision win over Russia’s Butaev (14-1, 10KOs; 1NC) last month in Arlington, Texas. Most viewers had Stanionis winning with room to spare and in line with the cards of judges Robert Hoyle (117-110) and Jose Roberto Torres (116-111), while Javier Alvarez (114-113) provided the dissenting tally in favor of Butaev.
The fight came about as a consolation prize when Stanionis—a member of the 2016 Lithuania Olympic boxing team that competed in Rio—agreed to step aside from a previously guaranteed shot at then-WBA welterweight titlist Yordenis Ugas.
Stanionis will now pursue a fight with Ugas’ conqueror, Errol Spence who stopped the Cuban boxer in the tenth round atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View card from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas which also housed Stanionis-Butaev. A fight with Spence (28-0, 22KOs) would see Stanionis challenge for the WBA “Super/WBC/IBF welterweight titles, whereas waiting one more fight could mean competing for the undisputed championship if Spence is permitted to first face WBO titlist Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (38-0, 29KOs).
Either way, Stanionis will continue to fight for the honor of his people. The love was felt immediately after his win and the power of a nation behind him will serve as a driving force for every fight in his pro career—especially as he competes for the welterweight division’s highest prize.
“My dream is still to fight for all of the belts and become undisputed champion,” Stanionis noted. “Right now, [winning the secondary WBA ‘World’ welterweight title] is like a dream. As a kid, this is something I’ve always dreamed of. It still feels like that. It’s a dream come true. It means a lot for me and my country.
“Everyone is waiting for me and for this victory. I had to dig deep, show my skill and my will to become champion.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox