Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. might be considered pound-for-pound stalwarts, but to Vergil Ortiz Jr., they’ve become obtrusive. With the two sides failing to lock in a deal that would crown the winner as an undisputed champion, Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) has grown restless.
In an effort to placate the welterweight contender's championship wishes, the WBA sanctioning body has ordered their secondary title holder, Eimantas Stanionis, to defend his crown against the hard-hitting star. Shortly after, Golden Boy Promotions, the banner in which Ortiz fights under, presented a winning figure of 2.3 million during purse bids.
Although a date and venue has yet to be revealed, Ortiz is already tinkering with his all-around game during training camp. Up until this point, the 24-year-old has effortlessly rolled over his competition. Most recently, the surging contender registered his 19th consecutive victory, doing so at the expense of Michael McKinson. While he respects all of his past rivals, Ortiz, as he examines the overall record of Stanionis, is completely convinced that the Lithuanian will push him like no other.
“Yeah, I think so,” said Stanionis to Fight Hub TV when asked if Stanionis will be the best fighter he’s faced thus far. “We’ll both be each other's toughest test.”
Stanionis, much like Ortiz, was initially under the impression that he was next in line to face Spence for his unified throne. In his most recent showing, the 28-year-old dug deep, eking out a close but clear split decision victory over Radzhab Butaev.
Following what amounted to his first title win, Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs) attempted to force the hand of Spence. But, despite his public demands and acrimonious words, it appears as though the powerful southpaw will go in another direction.
Though unofficial, all signs point to former unified champion, Keith Thurman, receiving the call. In any event, regardless of his failure to lure either Spence or Crawford into the ring, Stanionis openly expressed his pleasure following the news of his likely showdown against Ortiz taking place next.
As Ortiz continues to thump away at the heavy bag in preparation, the hairs on the back of his neck begin to raise. In many ways, Ortiz views both himself and his upcoming foe as analogous. With that in mind, and considering the dangers that Stanionis brings to the table, Ortiz isn't taking any days off.
“It’s the fights like this that excite me, that give me that extra drive in the gym to work hard because I know he’s working as hard as I am. It’s really exciting, I'm genuinely excited for this fight.”
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