A top welterweight fight has been hit with another setback.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the Eimantas Stanionis-Vergil Ortiz WBA ‘Regular’ welterweight title fight was postponed for the second time. Ortiz was forced to shut down training camp after suffering an undisclosed illness. The development forced the unbeaten contender to withdraw from a scheduled April 29 date with Stanionis at College Park Center at The University of Texas at Arlington campus.
The development was learned earlier in the week and ultimately confirmed by event handlers on Tuesday. It comes nearly three months after the attractive matchup was pushed off the originally scheduled March 18 date when Stanionis was hospitalized and forced to undergo appendectomy surgery.
This time, it is Ortiz who must walk away from what would have been his latest hometown headliner. The unbeaten contender from nearby Grand Prairie was due to fight in the greater Dallas area for the fourth straight time and fifth in his past seven fights. Instead, the 25-year-old knockout artist has to withdraw from a scheduled fight date for the second time in just more than a year.
He was pulled from the main event of a DAZN show last March 19 when he was hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis just ahead of fight week for a battle with England’s Michael McKinson at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles. The bout was rescheduled for August 13 and moved to Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, where Ortiz scored a ninth-round knockout. It was the deepest he has been forced to go in a fight to date, though he still kept alive his knockout streak and punched his way into title contention following their WBA welterweight title eliminator.
Stanionis (14-0, 9KOs; 1NC) was prepared to hit the road for the first defense of his secondary title. It remains unclear as this goes to publish if Golden Boy Promotions—Ortiz’s promoter, who won the rights to the fight through a December 12 purse bid hearing—will keep the scheduled DAZN date and if Stanionis will remain on the show, or if the entire card will be rescheduled.
Lithuania’s Stanionis claimed the secondary WBA welterweight title in a hard-fought decision win over Radzhab Butaev. The fiercely contested twelve-round battle took place last April 16 at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. The previously scheduled April 29 date with Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) would have marked his second straight trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Ortiz lobbied for his mandatory title status to be enforced last September. The WBA offered a guarantee that negotiations would begin if Stanionis did not secure a voluntary defense by November 16. To his credit, Stanionis was eager to bump with Ortiz once it became clear that he would not get a fight before year’s end.
Their respective teams were unable to reach a deal in time to avoid a December 12 purse bid hearing, which was won by Golden Boy Promotions ($2,300,000) who outpaced TGB Promotions ($2,100,010) to secure the rights to the eagerly awaited welterweight clash.
In theory, the winner is due a shot at the WBA ‘Super’ title held by Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22KOs), who also holds the IBF and WBC titles. A joint ruling by the WBA and WBC previously allowed for the latter to have their mandatory enforced first for Spence which would mean former unified titlist Keith Thurman (30-1, 22KOs) would be next in line for the unbeaten Texan.
There were once plans in place for Spence-Thurman to take place in late May or early June but above the welterweight limit. Boxing Scene has since learned that Spence has instead revisited talks for an undisputed welterweight championship showdown versus WBO titlist Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (39-0, 30KOs). It would leave Thurman without a fight and the Stanionis-Ortiz winner waiting even longer for a shot to upgrade the WBA title.
For now, there are not any welterweight title fights on the schedule—at least not until it is learned when Ortiz is fit to return or if Stanionis will opt for a stay busy fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox