Welcome everybody, to another edition of Bad Left Hook Scouting Report, the show that profiles young promising athletes from the sports of boxing, curling and ferret legging... although we haven't gotten to the curling and ferret legging parts yet. A quick reminder to our frenzied fans: we do not take donations, not even in the form of drinks... boxing scouting and consumption of alcohol go together like Syrian refugees and a Furry Convention. Oh... wait... I guess you can buy us drinks if you see us in a bar after all...
So far we've covered:
- Heavyweight Anthony Joshua, touted as the next great heavyweight of his generation.
- Light heavyweight Russian youngster Dmitry Bivol.
- Minimumweight titleholder Kosei Tanaka.
- Former 2012 US Olympian Jose Carlos Ramirez, fighting at jr. welterweight.
- Power punching American super-featherweight Saul Rodriguez.
- Former 2012 US Olympian Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz Jr., fighting at featherweight.
- Argentinian buzzsaw light middleweight Brian Castano.
- British giant super-middleweight Callum Smith.
- Olympic medalist and hopeful cruiserweight title challenger Evander Holyfield.
- Cossack otaman and rising cruiserweight contender Oleksandr Usyk.
- Floyd Mayweather's favourite young fighter: welterweight
Errol FlynnErrol Spence Jr..
- Fan favourite Chechen hammer Artur Beterbiev.
- Young and developing American light middleweight Erickson Lubin.
- Kiwi heavyweight banger Joseph Parker.
- Former Mexican amateur star Oscar Valdez, fighting at featherweight.
Today we travel to a pretty original country, the small Baltic state of Lithuania, a beautiful country of quaint little medieval towns, hilltop fortresses, serene rural scenery and, for some reason,the best place in the world to get your dental work done. For more about dental health in Lithuania, we turn to one of the countries top specialists in maxillofacial procedures - welterweight Egidijus "Egis" Kavaliauskas. Kavaliauskas has been rearranging jaws and redecorating teeth as an amateur for over 10 years, including a bronze medal at the 2011 World Amateur Championships and also twice participating in the Olympic Games. He turned pro in 2013, is signed with Top Rank and trains with Robert Garcia at his gym in Oxnard, California. Garcia calls him 'ferocious', 'a blend of Ruslan Provodnikov and Gennady Golovkin' and 'the hardest puncher he’s ever worked with'. His record stands at 12-0 with 11 KOs, but his competition is still lacking as Top Rank have taken their time with his matchmaking. He is currently slated to appear on the Manny Pacquiao - Timothy Bradley card in April, fighting fellow undefeated prospect and IBF 'Youth' World Champion Deniz Ilbay.
So let's see what we can find on Youtube...
Just for fun, here is his fight in the quarterfinals of the 2011 AIBA World Amateur Championships against Welshman Fred Evans, a bout where absolutely nothing happens until all of a sudden something happens.Here is his second pro fight, a 3rd round stoppage of young Luis Borrego. Totally unrelated, have you been longing for some Russell Mora shenanigans?This is his 6th pro bout, against a fighter called Larry Darnell Ventus, a guy let's say... not accustomed to winning.This is his 9th professional bout and best win, a 2nd round Sweet Chin Music on current WBC United States champion Jaime Herrera, fresh off his surprise stoppage of Mike Jones.This is his 10th professional bout, a quick stoppage of former prospect turned gatekeeper Jake Giuriceo.
This is a weird-angle film of his most recent bout, a 2nd round stoppage of the competent Prenice Brewer.
As usual, here is a list of things I noticed, divided into several categories:
The Very Best
1) Timing, anticipation and precision mid-combination. Kavaliauskas has a very interesting mutant superpower. He anticipates where and when opponents will move their body/head to avoid or escape his offensive flurries. And he oftentimes manages to time and land a big, big punch on the button, mid-combination, intercepting an opponent's chin just as it is moving away or to the side. His wild flurries look savage, but in reality they are almost a trap, hiding one big punch that he keeps coiled for when the opponent flinches away in panic.
2) Bursts of aggression. Kavaliauskas's style is pretty straightforward and somewhat similar to Argentinian Brian Castano that we covered a while ago. He studies his opponent for about a round, trying to find an angle and an opening and when he sees an opportunity, he just jumps on him like he's trying to bag a cat and unloads with both hands for all he's worth. So far it's worked tremendously. His two fisted bursts of fury are so vicious that no opponent has yet been able to come out unscathed or neutralize them.
3) Power. His opposition has been lacking thus far, which is understandable since he's still a novice pro, so normally I wouldn't be too quick to take his power seriously. But what has impressed me is that no opponent thus far has been able to withstand more than 3 or 4 clean punches from him. You sometimes see big knockouts and you are quick to praise that fighter's power, but you sometimes forget that perhaps that guy had already spent maybe 8 or 10 rounds landing flush repeatedly with no previous effects. Not the case here, as every single one of the Lithuanian's landed punches so far have made visible damage.
4) Head movement. This is a nice skill to have, he bobs and weaves a lot and doesn't just do it gratuitously, he oftentimes anticipates and actively slips incoming punches, especially at mid-distance. He also moves his hands when he jumps in for attacks which makes him very difficult to counter.
5) Crafty. Kavaliauskas is a difficult boxer to fight. He is slippery, he keeps his shoulder in front protecting his chin, he is not afraid to grab, hold, push, he has quirky timing, sometimes stepping forward without punching, sometimes starting a grabbing motion and the launching a punch out of nowhere. He seems difficult to figure out and, as mentioned before, very difficult to counter because of his unpredictable timing and ability to switch between wrestling and punching.
6) Punch accuracy. When it matters most, his biggest punches land on the button.
7) Punching on the fly. Obviously he is not Floyd Mayweather but he does sometimes throw from weird angles and unexpected positions. Not necessarily something he actively seeks, but sometimes he manages to generate a lot of power from a seemingly off-balance position.
8) Size. Kavaliauskas is listed at 5′ 9″ with a 71″ reach. No way is he that big. Photos showing him alongside Marcos Maidana (the welterweight, not the cruiserweight) show he is only slightly larger. And as far as the reach goes, he sure fights like he is at a reach disadvantage all the time.
9) Body punching. Kavaliauskas gets good leverage and good dig on his body punches but his finishing move is still upstairs. I wouldn't even go as far as to call him a consistent body puncher. He does it well when the opportunity presents itself but usually doesn't actively seek it.
The Not So Great But Improving
10) Hand speed. Personally I don't like his handspeed for welterweight. His flurries look quick but honestly probably everybody is able to windmill quickly. Everything else he throws looks sluggish, especially in his first bouts.
11) Predictability. Early on, too many of his offensive flurries start with the same move: a surprise lead left hook that is not set up by a jab. A smart trainer might catch this and teach his fighter to anticipate an incoming rally. Recently he has added the jab as a combination starter.
12) Jab. Kavaliauskas fights short, meaning that he doesn't treat his jab like a weapon he can use much and prefers to sneak or bluff his way inside and work from there. Having said that, his jab has improved a lot over his 12 bouts, so maybe there's a future there.
13) Strength and balance. It looks like, when fighting inside, Egidijus is sometimes pushed off his spot and muscled around. His team should gauge if they can add a bit more core strength without compromising his quickness or his ability to make weight.
14) Slow feet / Cutting the ring off. This one has not been very obvious thus far but to my eyes he is not a natural mover. He almost hesitates to move his back foot. And when he moves forward, he moves in too close, loses some leverage and some balance on his stance. Even mediocre fighters were able to slip along ropes to the sides when under attack.
15) Open to right hooks and overhands. Kavaliauskas keeps his right hand up, but his left hand is all over the place. The left side of his face is open to anything coming in from the side, especially when fighting from a distance.
16) Fighting in spurts. Now obviously he will say that he is studying his opponent and will attack when he finds an opening, but honestly, please help me list all the highly successful fighters in today's boxing that fight for 30 seconds of each round. I doubt we can come up with more than 5, so unless he does something about this the odds are against him.
17) Susceptible to an outside game. I don't think he has any answer whatsoever for a long and quick outside fighter that will pepper him with jabs and combinations while keeping distance.
The Downright Horrible
There is nothing that Kavaliauskas does that is a major problem.
Once again I find myself realizing it's so difficult to gauge how good a fighter will be when he hasn't faced meaningful opposition. Kavaliauskas has absolutely pulverized all of his opponents so far. He has big time power, timing, anticipation and very sneaky accuracy. I also think it's a bad idea to assume you can bait him in an counter him. His quirky head movement and weird angles are difficult to solve. Like Oleksandr Usyk we've discussed before, I don't think there's any chance to defend against him if you let him impose his style. For this reason I will go out on a limb and rate him as a high-ceiling prospect. The one challenge he will have to face will be to see if he can deal with a mobile, long outside fighter with good activity, good jab and good power. In all fairness, both Herrera and Brewer tried that against him and he swatted them away like flies, so even that plan might go hilariously wrong. Another thing to watch is weight. I think at 154 pounds he would be too undersized. So a lot of his future success or lack thereof might depend on how easily he will manage to make welterweight over the coming years.
Fun fighter! Keep an eye out for his bouts of you enjoy sudden, shocking violence.
Speaking of shocking violence... in case I haven't been specific enough the first time around... ferret legging!!!