Egidijus Kavaliauskas was set to be Vergil Ortiz Jr.'s toughest test to date on Saturday.
Ortiz passed with flying colors but not without a bit of a bump in the road as he roared back from being nearly knocked down in the second round to send Kavaliauskas to the canvas five times, including four in the eighth round of the fight to win at its 2:59 mark from The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
After an uneventful first round, Kavaliauskas nearly upset the apple cart in the second. The man known as Mean Machine rocked Ortiz on multiple occasions with one power shot after another. Ortiz appeared to be moments away from being sent to the canvas for the first time in his career. And it looked like it happened, but the referee said it didn't occur.
From that point forward, the fight belonged to Ortiz. Instead of acting like a 23-year-old and fighting young and reckless, Ortiz stayed composed and worked behind the jab, allowing himself to regain his bearings. At the end of the round, Ortiz landed a power jab and then a short left hook to send Kavaliauskas down for the first time.
Ortiz didn't go head-hunting and looking for the kill shot. Instead, he continued to implement the plan of attack and worked the jab, which would open things up as the fight wore on.
The home state native found the opening in the eighth round.
Ortiz was in the eighth round for the first time in his professional career, and it didn't go beyond this point. With about 90 seconds remaining, a left jab to the body sent Kavaliauskas to the canvas for the second time. The spirit looked to be taken away from Kavaliauskas at that point. Ortiz looked for the finish and nearly got it when another left put Kavaliauskas on the canvas for the second time in the round. Kavaliauskas made it up, but not for long.
Ortiz (18-0, 18 KOs) unloaded a barrage of power shots, and an uppercut sent Kavaliauskas to the mat one more time. Sensing he was moments away from closing the show, Ortiz landed another flurry of power shots to send Kavaliauskas one last time with one second remaining to remain undefeated in 18 fights, with each one coming via knockout.
Who is next for the young phenom? He wants one of the biggest fish at welterweight in WBO champion Terence Crawford.
“Yes sir”, Ortiz sharply responded to DAZN's Chris Mannix if he’s ready for Crawford.
"There’s so much s—t in boxing," Ortiz continued. "I don’t even know what I have to do anymore."
Some out there feel Ortiz isn't ready for one of the best fighters in the world. Ortiz doesn't care if it's Crawford, unified 147-pound champion Errol Spence Jr., or Manny Pacquiao. He just wants the cream of the crop.
"I’m ready to fight whenever," Ortiz boldly said. "I’m here to fight anybody. I don’t care if it’s Crawford, Spence, Pacquiao. You name it. I’ll fight anyone."
Here is what happened at Vergil Ortiz vs. Mean Machine.