In what is a busy Saturday night of boxing action across the globe, over at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, the exciting Vergil Ortiz Jr is in action against Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the main event.
Unbeaten Ortiz Jr (17-0, 17 KOs), the number one rated contender with the WBO behind world champion, Terence Crawford defends his WBO International welterweight title against former world title challenger Kavaliauskas.
The 23-year-old is one of the biggest prospects in the sport, and the Texan has a 100% knockout ratio in a perfect professional career so far.
Over his last few fights, he has mixed in better class each time, and has looked more and more dazzling with each fight that passes. Ortiz came to wider attention in May 2019, when he blasted out respected gatekeeper, Mauricio Herrera, in three rounds.
Herrera had never previously been stopped and was a former world title challenger. Other impressive wins over Antonio Oroczo (KO6), Brad Solomon (KO5) and Samuel Vargas (KO7) left Ortiz needing a further step-up, and, last time out, former WBO super lightweight champion, Maurice Hooker was no match for Ortiz, who scored a painful seventh round knockout in March 2021.
The win led to him calling out Crawford, and a win over a former ‘Bud’ opponent on Saturday will move him a step closer to a potential meeting.
‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) met Crawford in December 2019, and the Lithuanian put in a spirited display, but was ultimately outgunned, as the Nebraskan defended his WBO title, dropping Kavaliauskas three times in a ninth round stoppage win.
The 33-year-old now residing in California has rebounded since, and came from behind on two cards to stop Michael Zewski in eight last September.
Kavaliauskas also holds a 2018 stoppage win over current European champion, David Avanesyan, and is a dangerous opponent for Ortiz this weekend.
Prediction: Ortiz Jr is a talent, and he wants to muscle his way into world title contention this year if he can. An inside schedule win would raise eyebrows, and I think he can break down ‘Mean Machine’ late on for a stoppage towards the championship rounds.
Gutierrez & Alvarado clash in trilogy
A trilogy match, and a sequel that was an early fight of the year contender in 2021 heads the undercard, as Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez defends his WBA super featherweight title against Nicaraguan, Rene Alvarado, the man who he took the title from.
The pair met firstly in July 2017, over eight rounds, and Alvarado was the victor via seventh round knockout, with the loser’s corner throwing in the towel.
Their rematch in Dallas in January saw Gutierrez (25-3-1, 20 KOs) turn the tables with a thrilling unanimous win by the barest of margins.
Alvarado (32-9, 21 KOs) was down three times during the fight, twice in round three and once, crucially, in the final frame, as all three judges scored the fight 113-112 in Gutierrez’s favour.
Prediction: It’s set to be another cracking contest, but I still lean towards the champion, who should retain on the cards in another absorbing fight.
Alvarado defends world title
Rene’s brother Felix Alvarado is also on this bill, and the big puncher defends his IBF light flyweight crown against Mexico’s Erick Lopez Garcia.
It’s the third defence of the title that Alvarado (36-2, 31 KOs) won in 2018, and he stopped DeeJay Kriel in his last outing.
Garcia (16-5-1, 10 KOs) has fought for interim honours before, unsuccessfully, and most of his defeats came early on in his career.
Prediction: I expect Alvarado to defend inside the distance.
Pablo Cesar Cano is still a threat, and the Mexican aims to take the unbeaten record of Puerto Rico’s Danielito Zorrilla (15-0, 11 KOs) over ten rounds at super lightweight.
Two-time world title challenger, Cano (33-7-1, 23 KOs) has won three straight since back-to-back 2017 defeats, including a one round stunner against Jorge Linares in January 2019. He last fought ten months later, stopping Roberto Ortiz in two.
Prediction: Zorrilla is a decent prospect, and has fought a lot more recently that Cano, and he should take a decision win.