The next step up in class for Vergil Ortiz Jr. will once again come in the form of a home game.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the unbeaten welterweight contender is set to next face former title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Their crossroads bout will headline a DAZN telecast August 14 from The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
News of the bout was first revealed via social media by The 3 Knockdown Rule podcast host Steve Kim.
Ortiz (17-0, 17KOs) fights for the second straight time in the great Dallas area. The 23-year-old knockout artist from nearby Grand Prairie, Texas is coming off of a seventh-round stoppage of local rival and former junior welterweight titlist Maurice Hooker this past March 20 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. The bout took place in front of a sold-out crowd at the intimate venue, with ticket availability capped due to social distancing measures.
No such restrictions are any longer in place for venues in Texas. The hosting venue—primarily used as the practice facility for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys—normally seats 12,000, though available for upwards of 15,000 for non-football events. Local hero and unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs) headlined the venue’s first-ever boxing card, drawing an announced crowd of more than 14,200 for his 1st round knockout of Carlos Ocampo in a June 2018 mandatory title defense.
Two other boxing events have taken place on site—Sergey Kovalev’s light heavyweight title regaining win over Eleider Alvarez in February 2019; and a February 2020 show that saw Mikey Garcia rebound from a shutout loss to Spence with a thrilling 12-round decision win over Jessie Vargas, along with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez entering his second junior bantamweight title reign following a ninth-round knockout of unbeaten Kal Yafai.
Ortiz gets his third local headliner, the latest coming two years—almost to the day—after his sixth-round stoppage of former title challenger Antonio Orozco. Their August 2019 clash took place in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, as part of a four-win campaign that saw Ortiz earn 2019 Prospect of the Year honors.
The pandemic limited Ortiz’s 2020 to just one fight—a seventh-round stoppage of Samuel Vargas last July 24 at a crowdless Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. It was a far greater feeling for his last outing, when a rabid crowd rallied behind his every move en route to stopping Hooker for his biggest career win to date.
Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18KOs) boasts a rich amateur career that includes his representing Lithuania in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics. As a pro, the 32-year-old—who lives and trains in California—is regarded as a bona fide welterweight contender.
The lone loss of Kavaliauskas’ career came in a ninth-round stoppage at the hands of three-division and reigning WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford (37-0, 29KOs) in December 2019. He has since rebounded with an eighth-round stoppage of Canada’s Michael Zewski last September at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
A win by Ortiz will keep him in line for a targeted welterweight title fight. He remains the number-one contender to Crawford’s WBO title and holds the WBA “Gold” belt which leaves him in contention for the WBA “Super” title which could be at stake in Spence’s unified title fight versus eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox