Eimantas Stanionis is free to face the challenger of his choosing for his next outing.
There is no guarantee, however, if it results in the welterweight fights that he truly wants.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the unbeaten WBA ‘Regular’ welterweight titlist is no longer bound to a mandatory title defense. WBA representatives informed Boxing Scene a unanimous vote was reached by its Championship Committee to remove Vergil Ortiz Jr. from his previous place, confirming a development first reported by Big Fight Weekend.
Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) was due to challenge Lithuania’s Stanionis (14-0, 9KOs; 1ND) this Saturday on DAZN from AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The unbeaten contender from Grand Prairie, Texas had to withdraw after he fainted and was hospitalized overnight Wednesday. Stanionis and his team were informed of the development Thursday morning, which left the boxer without enough time to secure a replacement opponent.
It marked the third postponement for a previously ordered title fight which is no longer in play. Ortiz will have to get his house in order before resuming his career. Regardless, it is obvious that he will no longer compete at welterweight, which makes the WBA ruling a moot point.
Golden Boy Promotions—Ortiz’s promoter—won the rights to the fight with a $2,300,000 submission during a purse bid hearing held last December in Orlando, Florida. Stanionis and his team were due $1,7500,000 as the defending titlist.
Stanionis was previously due a mandatory title fight versus then-WBA ‘Super’ titleholder Yordenis Ugas in 2022. His team agreed to a scenario which allowed a Spence-Ugas unification bout last April 16, where Stanionis faced and defeated Radzhab Butaev to win the WBA ‘Regular’ welterweight title on the undercard at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.
The agreement in place was that the winners would be ordered to meet in a title consolidation bout. However, the exception was always the possibility of Spence-Crawford, which was negotiated for months but fell apart last fall. By that point, Stanionis was already ordered to face Ortiz, who became his mandatory following a ninth-round knockout of unbeaten Michael McKinson last August 6.
In theory, Stanionis should become the mandatory challenger to the WBA ‘Super’ welterweight title held by Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22KOs), who also holds the WBC and IBF belts. Spence will face WBO titlist Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (39-0, 30KOs) for the undisputed welterweight championship July 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
However, Spence-Crawford carries a bilateral rematch clause that could further impact the division’s awaiting secondary titlists. The likely scenario is that Stanionis will secure a voluntary title fight in the coming weeks, with the WBA to make a hard decision after Spence-Crawford, particularly if the losing fighter opts to immediately run it back.
Stanionis—who is managed by Shelly Finkel—has spent nearly his entire career on events branded by Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), who will house his next fight and carries a surplus of talent in the welterweight division including Spence. Finding an opponent should not be an issue in that regard, though finding the type of opponent that Stanionis most craves remains the greatest challenge.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox