Egis Klimas, manager of former welterweight title challenger Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, tells Steve Kim that a fight between his charge and Vergil Ortiz Jr. is “finalized” for August 14th, though they’ve yet to secure a venue. The pair are respectively ranked #5 and #1 by the WBO at 147 pounds, meaning the winner could find himself in line for a crack at Terence Crawford.
Ortiz (17-0, 17 KO) was one of boxing’s top prospects even before he annihilated the always-durable Mauricio Herrera in 2019, and recent efforts have only strengthened that notion. The 23-year-old has yet to go past seven rounds and looked mighty sharp in his March stoppage of former super lightweight champion Maurice Hooker.
Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KO) figures to pose another stiff test. A former amateur standout who’d smashed the likes of David Avanesyan during his rise through the professional ranks, he lost quite a bit of momentum in an uninspiring draw with Ray Robinson, only to give a remarkably solid account of himself in a loss to Crawford. He’s since returned to the win column by stopping Mikael Zewski in September.
It’s a great fight both in terms of matchmaking and violence potential, and if Ortiz manages a decisive victory, it’s hard to argue that he’s not ready for a title shot.