Saturday night’s show at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, has familiar stories popping off the page.
The intriguing event to be broadcast on Showtime features highly-touted prospects, a current world champion as well as a former one and the son of a ‘Real Deal’.
The betting favourites from the three standout fights – Jaron Ennis vs Sergey Lipinets, Jerwin Ancajas vs Jonathan Rodriguez and Eimantas Stanionis vs Thomas Dulorme – all look like adding to their winning records but legitimate cases can be made for the underdogs.
In fact, should Ennis and Stanionis win on Saturday the careers of Lipinets and Dulorme, respectively, may well find themselves locked in the category of gatekeeper. Stanionis (12-0, 9 KOs) is making no overconfident predictions for his fight, instead he dropped hints that fans may be in for a bit of a welterweight thriller. And the division could do with more fists doing the talking than social media accounts.
“Because of the styles, mine and Thomas, I think it’s going to be like fireworks and fans will be winners on Saturday night,” Stanionis said to Boxing Social not long before he was due to jump on to an online press conference.
“To be honest, I don’t think this fight will go the distance. Either he’s knocking me out or I’m knocking him out. This is the style. He likes to bang; I like to bang. Maybe he will change his style, but I am not going to change nothing. It’s going to be throwing bombs.”
The words of a man who could be going in swinging looking to overpower a man who is five years older and had 18 more fights than him. Dulorme (25-4-1, 16 KOs) has also mixed it with the likes of Terence Crawford during an unsuccessful world super-lightweight world title challenge and has come up short against Yordenis Ugas, Jessie Vargas and Jamal James. A seismic career win continues to elude him.
“Let’s see how he’s swimming in round 8, round 9,” the Puerto Rican told Boxing Social during the webinar for Saturday’s card.
Stanionis has the kind of amateur pedigree we’ve almost come to expect from Eastern Europeans nowadays. An Olympian, a European champion who has had over 150 fights and had the time to gain a bachelors’ degree. The 26-year-old says this step-up is coming at the right time and could have arrived before now.
“Maybe I thought everything would be sooner, but it happens when it happens in this sport. You can never predict nothing. There are injuries, some other things happen but I am happy, everything is good. No complaints about nothing. Everything is just perfect. I think everything came at the right time.
“It has been a journey,” he added. “I don’t think I have had an easy road. I have to fight tough opposition to get me to where I am. Every fighter, every opposition was getting better but then I got surgery [Stanionis suffered torn ligaments and a broken wrist in 2019] but I came back. Now everything is good.”
Lithuanian Stanionis is currently rated at No.10 with the WBA, his only Top 10 ranking at present. A win, particularly an impressive one against Dulorme, will signify a leap of prospect to contender. A jump that he and a pack of developing welterweights have either just made or are about to.
Vergil Ortiz, Daniyar Yeleussinov, Jaron Ennis, Kudratillo Abdukakohorov, Conor Benn and Elvis Rodriguez may range from ages 23 to 30 but they aren’t at world title level yet. Crawford, Spence, Pacquiao, Thurman, Ugas and Porter all comfortably eclipse them in terms of experience and achievements, but time isn’t on their side. A dozen fighters then in a division packed with God-given ability but where the biggest fights are a herculean task to accomplish.
“It is the best division in the sport of boxing in my opinion,” said Stanionis full of positivity for his weight class.
“You can mix it up with a lot of guys. There is a good bunch of up and comers and world champions so you can mix it up a bunch of times and it would be beautiful and good fights. I have to show I am at that level and Saturday is a good opportunity to showcase my skills.
“Whoever they put in front of me I will fight any day. It doesn’t matter for me to be honest. I’ll fight anybody, any time. Can wake me up at night and say fight is there and I will go there. On Saturday I have a good opportunity to prove myself.”