Another night, another hometown headliner and step-up in class for Vergil Ortiz Jr.
In what has become a familiar theme in his rise to contention, the toughest test to date awaits the unbeaten knockout artist from Grand Prairie, Texas. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Ortiz (17-0, 17KOs) will next face former title challenger Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, with their welterweight bout due to take place August 14 on DAZN from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
The bout was confirmed by Golden Boy Promotions who formally announced the event Tuesday morning.
“Vergil Ortiz Jr. is developing the most impressive resume for any boxer his age,” said Oscar De La Hoya, chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Though the welterweight division is perhaps the most competitive weight class in the sport, Ortiz Jr. has been able to maintain a knockout ratio of 100% in his big tests against Antonio Orozco, Brad Solomon and Maurice Hooker.
“On August 14, Ortiz Jr. will look better than ever and remind everyone why he is the biggest threat at 147 pounds.”
Ortiz sought to send that message in his last outing, a seventh-round stoppage of former junior welterweight titlist Maurice Hooker. The battle of local, friendly rivals took place this past March 20 in front of a packed crowd at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Hooker tested Ortiz as advertised, before the 23-year-old twice dropped the Dallas native en route to maintaining his perfect knockout-to-win ratio.
The win came in the presence of welterweight royalty. WBO titlist Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford is a stablemate of Hooker and made the trip in support of the former titlist while also in part to scout Ortiz. Also on site was WBC/IBF titlist Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs), who next faces the legendary Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) on August 21.
Both are stated targets of Ortiz, who is willing to continue to push himself in terms of facing the best of the rest in the division.
“I always said I’m here to take on the toughest challenges to prove myself,” insists Ortiz, BoxingScene.com’s 2019 Prospect of the Year. “Egis is a very game, strong opponent, and a win over him would leave no doubts that I’m ready for a world title fight immediately.
“It won’t be easy, but that’s the point. The fans are going to enjoy this one.”
The fight comes about due to Kavaliauskas’ willingness to rise to the occasion at a time when several other welterweights looked the other way. The two-time Olympian for Lithuania has proven himself as a bubble contender in the stacked welterweight division, with his lone loss coming in a ninth-round stoppage at the hands of Crawford in their December 2019 WBO welterweight title fight.
Kavaliauskas has since rebounded with an eighth-round stoppage of Michael Zewski last September in his last fight with Top Rank. The 33-year-oid contender—who is guided by multi-time Manager of the Year Egis Klimas—now aims to ruin the hometown celebration planned for Ortiz along with any plans for his younger foe to sprint toward the title picture.
“Fans have been asking for this fight, and we’re going to give it to them,” saidKavaliauskas. “So, mark your calendar and have your popcorn ready. A war is coming.”
Per the announcement from Golden Boy, tickets will go on sale Friday, July 16 at 11:00 a.m. ET/10:00 a.m. local (Central) time. Price points for the event are $250, $150, $100, $75, $50 and $35 (plus service fees) and are available for sale at seatgeek.com.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox