The third time was not the charm for the cursed Eimantas Stanionis vs Vergil Ortiz Jr. welterweight clash.
According to Stanionis' manager, Shelly Finkel, Ortiz Jr. fainted on Wednesday during training in his Texas gym and was hospitalized overnight. The battle of unbeaten welterweights was set to headline a DAZN show on Saturday from AT&T Center in San Antonio after two prior delays due to illness.
Golden Boy Boxing issued a statement Thursday morning, July 6, before the final pre-fight news conference scheduled in San Antonio with the news that the welterweight bout on Saturday, July 8, would not move forward.
De La Hoya: Show Will Go On
Golden Boy Boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya discussed the situation at the start of the news conference in support of the card, which will proceed despite Ortiz Jr. hospitalized.
“Vergil Ortiz was training really, really hard for the fight of his career when he passed out, requiring immediate hospitalization,” explained De La Hoya. “The health of the fighter is the most important thing. We're obviously in Vergil's corner, 1000%. We wish him a speedy recovery. When he's back, we'll welcome him with open arms and move on.
“I strongly feel Vergil Ortiz not only has the potential to become a world champion, but he has the potential to become a very, very special fighter winning multiple world titles. First things first, he has to recover, get better. Then we'll go back to the drawing board and figure out his next move,” said De La Hoya.
Prospect Floyd Schofield Moves To Main Event
The rest of the card will continue as scheduled. Unbeaten lightweight prospect Floyd Schofield Jr. (14-0, 11 KOs) from nearby Austin will fill the void in the main event. Schofield takes on Haskell Lydell Rhodes of Oklahoma City (28-4, 13 KOs), who trains in Las Vegas in a scheduled ten-round fight.
“I got everybody coming up to me now, ‘You're in the main event!'” said Schofield. “Now, I gotta make a statement. It's super exciting.”
“It really is different. We've been training like it was the main event. Nothing will change for me. Thank you to Golden Boy for keeping it going and Floyd for taking the fight,” added Haskell.
JoJo Diaz Jr. Steps Up To Co-Main
Former junior lightweight champion Joseph ‘JoJo' Diaz of Downey, California (32-4-1, 15 KOs) will also appear on the card against Jerry Perez of Oak Hills, California (14-2-1, 11 KOs).
Diaz Jr. expressed concern for his stablemate Ortiz Jr. “It's a tragic situation what's going on with Vergil Ortiz in his career. My condolences to him and his family. I'll be praying for you, brother. I wish you a quick recovery so you can come back to the ring and give the fans what they want to see.”
Diaz Jr. and the other fighters on the card expressed their appreciation to the promoters for saving the show. “To save the show means a lot to us fighters on the undercard,” said Diaz Jr.
Stanionis vs Ortiz Postponed Twice Since April
The latest derailment marks the third postponement of Stanionis vs. Ortiz. The first delay occurred when Lithuania's Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs) was forced to undergo an emergency appendectomy in January, pushing their bout to April 29 in Arlington, Texas.
Ortiz Jr. of Grand Prairie, Texas (19-0, 19 KOs) was forced to postpone that date after a second battle with rhabdomyolysis in March 2023.
He first contracted the illness the previous spring when he was hospitalized just ahead of fight week for a planned bout against Michael McKinson. The fight was rescheduled to August 6, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. Ortiz picked up a ninth-round TKO over the Englishman.
Stanionis last fought 14 months ago, defeating Radzhab Butaev of Russia on April 16, 2022, to win the WBA ‘Regular' welterweight title on the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Yordenis Ugas card. No word yet from Stanionis or his manager Finkel on his plans.
Stanionis spoke to NYFights West Coast Bureau Chief Gayle Falkenthal about the postponements after his appendectomy.