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Good News for Eimantas Stanionis Is Good For Boxing

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Good News for Eimantas Stanionis Is Good For Boxing
Photo Credit: Gayle Falkenthal, NY Fights

There will be no fight more anxious to get into the ring on Saturday, May 4, in Las Vegas than Eimantas Stanionis.

Stanionis, age 29 and the first boxing champion from Lithuania (14-0, 7 KOs) will return to the ring after more than two years of delays to defend his WBA World Welterweight title against Gabriel Maestre of Venezuela (6-0-1, 5 KOs).

Posing with WBA president Gilberto Mendoza, Eimantas Stanionis and Gabriel Maestre are well acquainted from their amateur days. Photo: Gayle Falkenthal, NY Fights

Posing with WBA president Gilberto Mendoza, Eimantas Stanionis and Gabriel Maestre are well acquainted from their amateur days. Photo: Gayle Falkenthal, NY Fights

“It’s been a very long time and I’m very happy to be here fighting in Las Vegas,” said Stanionis at the final pre-fight news conference Thursday. “I’m from a small country and there are very few people who make it to this point from there. I’m very happy that my hard work has earned me this opportunity.

“I just want to be back in the ring. When I hear that bell, I’ll be the happiest man on the planet to be in the ring.”

The Long Road to Las Vegas for Eimantas Stanionis

Eimantas Stanionis showed against Radzhab Butaev he's not afraid to fight toe to toe. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

Eimantas Stanionis showed against Radzhab Butaev he's not afraid to fight toe to toe. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

You can be forgiven if you can’t recall Stanionis’ last fight, a split decision win on the Spence vs. Ugas undercard in April 2022 over Radzhab Butaev of Russia (14-1, 11 KOs). Maestre won his right to face Stanionis with back-to-back stoppage wins against Devon Alexander and promising undefeated prospect Trayvon Marshall.

Stanionis had a much-anticipated bout scheduled against Vergil Ortiz, Jr. in Dallas on March 18, 2023, but had an emergency appendectomy on January 6 in Lithuania. Stanionis bounced back quickly, and the fight was rescheduled for April 29.

In early January, Eimantas Stanionis was rushed into surgery to remove his badly infected appendix. Photo: Eimantas Stanionas/Facebook

But the fight was delayed again when Ortiz was stricken by the debilitation muscle condition rhabdomyolysis. The fight was given a third date on July 29 in San Antonio. The third time wasn’t the charm when Ortiz Jr. withdrew just two days before the fight after he fainted during training due likely to dehydration from a weight cut.

Stanionis has maintained a remarkably positive outlook despite the inactivity, which is no friend to any athlete. Speaking with Stanionis on Thursday, he admitted there were times he wondered why he found himself in this situation.

“I can't even imagine it. Everything is on me. Why me, I was asking,” said Stanionis. But you know, some people have worse problems, and I'm just blessed I can be now be standing here, with the biggest card. I feel blessed.”

“I’m from a small country. I was thinking at some point, nobody took care of me, nobody cared about my career. and I was like mad. But I knew, God willing, everything will be coming to the place with my fiancée, my family, and just me.

“I just was thinking it can’t be always no dive days. The (good) days will come also, you know,” said Stanionis.

With Ortiz Jr.’s stay in the welterweight division unclear, and with the victory of Terence Crawford in July 2023 over Errol Spence Jr. to become undisputed, Stanionis and his team waited to see what opportunities for a significant fight were available.

Stanionis Restarts In The Ring

Eimantas Stanionis says he's never stopped training through cancellations and delays. Photo: Lucas Noonan

Eimantas Stanionis says he's never stopped training through cancellations and delays. Photo: Lucas Noonan

Fast-forward another 11 months. Stanionis must have his fingers crossed he finally gets back into action against Maestre. The fight airs as part of the undercard in support of Canelo vs. Munguia on Prime Video, DAZN PPV, and PPV.com at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Working with trainer Marvin Somodio, Stanionis continued to train, continued to stay ready for any opportunity, and kept himself as visible as possible giving interviews and attending the fights, always a lurking presence so no one would forget him.

“I always show up to the fights, like with Vergil (during his recent bout against Thomas Dulorme on April 27). I show up all the time, I say to everybody, you can count me in. I’ll make weight, I’ll show up, I’ll sign the contracts with anybody. I’ll do what they want me to do because I love fighting,” explained Stanionis.

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza presented Stanionis and Maestre with WBA swag Thursday, who were glad to show off their goods.

After winning the WBA title against Butaev two years ago, Stanionis is in line for the “super” title once Terence Crawford makes what looks like a permanent move to the super welterweight division, making all his belts available. Ironically, Stanionis is now in the ideal position. It seems nothing would make the sanctioning organization happier to have a popular new champion.

Maestre Promises A War

Eimantas Stanionis and Gabriel Maestre both promise a war on Saturday. Photo: Esther Lin, Premier Boxing Champions

Eimantas Stanionis and Gabriel Maestre both promise a war on Saturday. Photo: Esther Lin, Premier Boxing Champions

But Stanionis has to fight and win against Maestre, who doesn’t intend to make it easy for him. The pair fought as amateurs, with Stanionis winning. Maestra promised a war on Thursday, however the fight goes.

“I can’t wait to show everyone the fireworks that will be on display in the ring. It’s going to be a clash of two great fighters,” said Maestre.

“I’m used to being the underdog. I was the underdog in both fights last year (against Alexander and Marshall), and you saw how those worked out.”

Stanionis: ‘A dream come true'

“I know he’s coming with everything,” said Stanionis. ”This fight is do or die for him, but it’s the same for me. Being on this card is a dream come true, and I’m ready to do anything I can to keep my belt.”

Assuming a win, Stanionis said he’d like to face the winner of the undercard bout between Mario Barrios and Fabian Maidana. “I want to be a throwback fighter and take on all challengers,” said Stanionis.

Eimantas Stanionis showed his skills for fans during a media workout in Las Vegas. Photo: Premier Boxing Champions

Eimantas Stanionis showed his skills for fans during a media workout in Las Vegas. Photo: Premier Boxing Champions

Stanionis wouldn’t be here without leaning on his love of fighting to keep himself pressing forward with no clear path, landing him the spot on Saturday’s card.

“It’s the love for the sport, of course. Boxing changed everything, you know (for me),” said Stanionis. “I’m coming to bring fireworks. I’m prepared to deliver something special, and I can’t wait to see everyone on Saturday.”

These are the fighter stories that also keep the fans going, despite dirty drug tests, fighter and promoter squabbles, and the failure to make the matchups fans hope for. Give some attention to them.

Undercard fighters on the PPV: Eimantas Stanionis, Brandon Figueroa, Mario Barrios, Fabian Maidana, Jesse Magdaleno, and Gabriel Maestre. Photo: Esther Lin, Premier Boxing Champions

Undercard fighters on the PPV: Eimantas Stanionis, Brandon Figueroa, Mario Barrios, Fabian Maidana, Jesse Magdaleno, and Gabriel Maestre. Photo: Esther Lin, Premier Boxing Champions

Other fighters featured during the press conference were former world champion Barrios of San Antonio (28-2, 18 KOs) and Argentine power-puncher Maidana of Argentina (22-2, 16 KOs, who duel for Barrios’ Interim WBC welterweight title in the co-main event; and former world champions Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa of Welasco, Texas (24-1, 18 KOs) and Jessie Magdaleno of Las Vegas (29-2, 18 KOs), who meet for Figueroa’s Interim WBC featherweight title.

Vito Mielnicki, Jesus Ramos, Ronald Cruz, and Johan Gonzalez meet on the free undercard fights on PBC on Prime. Photo: Esther Lin, Premier Boxing Champions

Vito Mielnicki, Jesus Ramos, Ronald Cruz, and Johan Gonzalez meet on the free undercard fights on PBC on Prime. Photo: Esther Lin, Premier Boxing Champions

Fighters who appear on the free PBC on Prime Video action preceding the pay-per-view were also on hand, including Jesus Ramos of Casa Grande, Arizona (20-1, 16 KOs) and Johan Gonzalez of Venezuela (34-2, 33 KOs), who meet in a 10-round super welterweight bout, and super welterweight contender Vito Mielnicki Jr. of Roseland, New Jersey (17-1, 12 KOs) against Ronald Cruz of Los Angeles (19-3-1, 12 KOs), who open the live stream at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.

 

 

 

 

Gayle Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist and the only woman journalist who is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). She is West Coast Bureau Chief based in San Diego, California.