Tuesday, October 03, 2023  |


Healthy Optimism: An analysis and prediction for the Stanionis-Ortiz welterweight showdown

Vergil Ortiz Jr. (right) and Eimantas Stanionis are The Ring's Nos. 4- and 5-rated welterweights.
Fighters Network

The following article is part of The Ring’s Summer Special previewing the Spence-Crawford undisputed welterweight championship. Pre-order the limited-edition print issue at The Ring Shop. Subscribers can read the digital edition here; or the pdf format here.



On July 8, Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Eimantas Stanionis will square off in a highly anticipated and long-postponed welterweight matchup at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. For the Texan Ortiz, the fight will be a homecoming and he will surely expect to have a boisterous crowd in support. Stanionis is from Lithuania, but he is no stranger to fighting in the Lone Star State; this will mark his fifth appearance in Texas. Whoever wins will own the secondary WBA title and thus be in pole position to face the winner of the undisputed welterweight championship fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford on July 29. 

For both Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) and Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs), this is the perfect matchup to establish bona fides in the upper echelon of the welterweight division. Although both have had impressive rises, what each has lacked to this point is a win over one of the best at 147. This fight will solve that problem. The winner will be viewed as a legitimate contender – and perhaps the top contender – in the division. 

Below are the keys to the fight, and I’ll have a prediction at the end of the article. 


In assessing this matchup’s range of possibilities, there are health concerns on both sides that could play an important role in what happens. The fight was originally scheduled for March 18, but Stanionis needed to have an emergency appendectomy. Now, appendectomies are fairly routine procedures, but they still require a fair degree of recovery time. The fight was then rescheduled for April 29, but Ortiz had to pull out because of the second instance in his career of rhabdomyolysis, which is a disintegration of skeletal muscle. There are multiple causes of rhabdomyolysis; a common one is overexertion. Ortiz has claimed that his illness was an effect of long COVID and has declared that he is now in great health.

Maybe Ortiz’s health issues are past him, but maybe he still isn’t at 100 percent. It’s tough to tell until he gets into the ring. Ortiz has had issues in the past with cutting weight properly, and certainly there are questions about whether Ortiz is too big for welterweight. Did his hospitalization occur in part because of his inability to get to welterweight in a healthy way? I did ask someone who was close to Ortiz this exact question, and I was assured that Ortiz can still make 147 without a problem. But this is an issue that bears a close watch. 


This fight will feature two of the best jabs in the division. Ortiz’s jab is a ramrod. It functions as a power punch. He also uses it in different ways – a range finder, a damage inflictor, a way to get inside and a way to set up combinations. He’ll also double and triple the jab to great effect. Ortiz does have great power punches, but it would be wrong to classify his jab as a table-setter. It’s often the main course in its own right. 

Stanionis takes a high-volume approach and he works off the jab to set up combinations. One thing that he does well with the jab is throw it in dead moments of the fight. If Ortiz wants a break, Stanionis will just keep popping him with his stick. Stanionis also moves very well and he can jab on the run or as he’s turning an opponent. He’s very crafty with the punch. Although it doesn’t have the blunt force of Ortiz’s, Stanionis’ jab is highly effective in helping him pile up points. 


Here I think is the big separator between the two fighters. Although Stanionis is a solid puncher, he’s not a one-punch knockout guy. He sets up shots. He throws combinations. He’ll drop opponents by breaking them down gradually or hitting them with something in a multi-punch combination that they don’t see well. But for true punching power, I don’t believe that he’s at the same level as Ortiz. 

Ortiz’s bone-crunching power sets him apart from other welterweights. (Photo by Kevin Estrada/Getty Images)

Ortiz will throw sickening body shots with both hands. He also features several weapons to the head, including his straight right, left hook and right uppercut. Because he goes to the body so viciously, his opponents have to overcompensate with their defense to protect their body, which leaves openings to the head. He can stop a fight to either head or body at any time, and with a multitude of punches. He’s won all of his fights by knockout. 


If there is one area where Stanionis might have a decided edge over Ortiz, it’s his consistency, either within a round or through every round in a fight. Stanionis is a workhorse. Although he does have power and a respectable 64 percent KO ratio, he’s there to win rounds and pile up points. Ortiz can start slow and often needs time to work his way into a fight. He was rocked and forced to hold in the second round of his shootout with Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas. 

Stanionis scored a 12-round split decision over Radzhab Butaev. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

In addition, Stanionis has gone 12 hard rounds twice in his career, against Radzhab Butaev in his last fight and Thomas Dulorme in 2021. Meanwhile, Ortiz has never been past the ninth round. Stanionis knows that he has the gas tank to go 12, and Ortiz, who can start slowly and may have lingering questions about health, has yet to be tested this way. There could be a path to victory for Stanionis by being better in the first and final third of the fight. 


I don’t want to discount the health component for either fighter in this matchup. I’m not sure if Stanionis is 100 percent after his procedure, and I still have lingering concerns about Ortiz’s ability to make welterweight safely. I know that Ortiz is going to test Stanionis’ body, and that will tell us how healthy Stanionis is for this fight. In addition, I expect Stanionis to use his volume and movement to extend Ortiz to the latter portion of the fight. If Ortiz does have conditioning issues, Stanionis is the type of fighter who will expose that. 

(Photo by Kevin Estrada/Getty Images)

I expect this fight to be a high-level affair that will alternate between cerebral moments that reward technical skill and eye-opening exchanges that feature impressive power punches. Stanionis’ movement, angles and jab will give Ortiz problems in the early portion of the fight. It wouldn’t surprise me if he builds an early lead on the scorecards. 

Ortiz will wisely invest in the body in the first third of the fight. He might not win all or most of those rounds, but his efforts will pay dividends later in the fight. While I don’t expect Stanionis to stop his movement throughout the bout, I do think that he will be a little easier to find as the rounds progress. 

In a battle where both guys will have their moments, I think that Ortiz’s body assault will eventually deplete Stanionis. But Ortiz will have to earn it. He must put in the work to get the job done. Stanionis is not going to wilt on his own. The pick here is Ortiz by 11th-round stoppage, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Stanionis is up on the cards at the time or if it’s essentially a draw. Stanionis will look very good during portions of the fight. But ultimately, I think that he lacks a little bit of firepower. I’m not sure if he has the punch to knock out Ortiz, and Ortiz will eventually get through with enough damaging power shots to swing the fight his way. 

Vergil Ortiz Jr. will defeat Eimantas Stanionis by 11th-round stoppage.