Eimantas Stanionis Is Back on Track

Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email

The WBA Welterweight World Champion is itching to show fans he's the top dog among the new generation of welterweights as he faces hard-hitting Gabriel Maestre in a battle of undefeated welterweights Saturday night on Prime Video.

PBC Boxing Video Thumbnail

Butaev vs Stanionis - Watch Fight Highlights | April 16, 2022

Eimantas Stanionis’ skepticism is understandable.

The unbeaten WBA Welterweight World Champion is scheduled to end an irritating two-year layoff when he squares off versus Venezuela’s Gabriel Maestre on the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Jaime Munguia pay-per-view card this Saturday, May 4, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Lithuania’s Stanionis has endured more postponements, cancelations and delays since he defeated Radzhab Butaev in April 2022 than he cares to remember. 

His ill-fated fight with undefeated knockout artist Vergil Ortiz Jr. was scrapped for the third time just two days before it was set to take place last July. Ortiz – who previously postponed their fight following a flareup of rhabdomyolysis, a complex, rare muscle condition – was hospitalized the night before their final press conference because he was severely dehydrated and suffered from heat exhaustion.

That extremely late cancelation devastated Stanionis. The most trying times the 2016 Olympian could’ve imagined have made him hesitant to believe he’ll actually fight Saturday night until he walks into the ring to meet Maestre face to face.

“It’s still hard to believe, watching all these fighters fight,” Stanionis said. “I’m still not in the ring, so after all these cancelations, you know, it’s like still in my mind [if] it’s going to happen or no. I’ll go there, weigh in and it’s like 90 percent that I’ll fight. I’ll be the happiest man in the world when I step in the ring, and I hear the bell. I’ll be like free.”

Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs, 1 NC) was free to fight an optional challenger in Maestre (6-0-1, 5 KOs) next although he was disappointed about losing out on not only the biggest payday of his career, but the opportunity to test himself against Ortiz.

“I was the underdog and I love being the underdog, to shock everything,” Stanionis said. “I was prepared well and I just wanted to see what’s going on, how unbeatable he is. I just wanted to give my best and see where I’m standing also in the welterweight division. But it didn’t happen. It is what it is. It was a hard time, you know, but it’s done. It’s in the past now.”

Stanionis, 29, will revisit his past when he encounters Maestre in the opener of a four-fight Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view show on Prime Video (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT). He beat Maestre on points at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha, Qatar.

“I had basically zero man strength,” Stanionis said. “He was stronger than me physically, but I beat him technically, comfortably, 3-0, a unanimous decision. But I was just a kid. Coming up, I had zero experience in the men’s [division]. So, basically, he just had man strength, from what I remember. He has power, for sure, but nothing I haven’t seen before.”

The 37-year-old Maestre demonstrated his power in his last fight, an impressive second-round knockout of then-unbeaten American prospect Travon Marshall. The two-time Olympian overwhelmed Marshall and dropped him twice before their scheduled 10-rounder was stopped at 2:06 of the second round August 12 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

I just want to show the fans, you know, that I’m back, I’m still here. Undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion - Eimantas Stanionis

“He just [caught Marshall] with a clean shot,” Stanionis said. “I don’t think he can catch me with that clean shot because I have better defense. But in boxing, you never know – anything can happen. But it’s hard to believe he can catch me with a clean shot.”

Stanionis hopes a victory over Maestre leads to what could become a true title unification fight with Mario Barrios. San Antonio’s Barrios (28-2, 18 KOs) will defend his Interim WBC Welterweight crown against Argentina’s Fabian Maidana (22-2, 16 KOs) in the co-feature on the Alvarez-Munguia undercard.

If former fully unified welterweight champ Terence Crawford moves up to the 154-pound division for his next bout, as expected, the WBA and WBC will respectively elevate Stanionis and Barrios to the status of full champion if the favored fighters win May 4.

“I’m all for it,” Stanionis said. “I would love to do it ASAP. A unification fight is good. For two belts, why not? These guys [Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.] are moving up, so we’ll see what’s going on. First Maestre, then we’ll see.”

An anxious Stanionis wants to be as active as possible in 2024 because he has boxed slightly less than 16 total rounds since he unanimously outpointed Thomas Dulorme in their 12-rounder in April 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. 

His subsequent bout resulted in a no-contest when Luis Collazo couldn’t continue late in the fourth round due to an accidental clash of heads that caused a cut on his right eyelid in August 2021 at The Armory in Minneapolis. Stanionis beat Russia’s Butaev (15-1, 12 KOs, 1 NC) eight months later on the Spence-Yordenis Ugas undercard at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but he hasn’t fought since he won the WBA’s secondary championship from Butaev two years ago.

Stanionis still isn’t concerned about ring rust entering the Maestre match because he has trained and sparred for three scheduled fights with Ortiz and then a much-discussed return he expected to take place prior to May 4. He feels forgotten, however, and wants to remind fans that he is one of the best boxers in the welterweight division.

“I just want to show the fans, you know, that I’m back, I’m still here,” Stanionis said. “Nothing changes. I’m still the same person, just improved in boxing, you know? Every day I say, ‘The fight is getting closer, closer, closer.’ Because sometimes you feel some nerves or some goosebumps, [something] in the stomach. We’re human beings, you know? … For me, I will be just happy. When I hear the bell, it’s like, ‘Here we go. Finally!’”

For a closer look at Eimantas Stanionis, check out his fighter page. 

Subscribe to RSS
Related News