Egidijus ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas proved he is still a factor at 147lbs, coping with adversity to gun down Canadian Mikael Zewski in eight rounds at the ‘Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Saturday night.
Former WBO title challenger Kavaliauskas, who gave Terence Crawford a stiff argument last December, overcame a swollen right eye and a deficit on the judges’ scorecards to drop Zewski twice and close the show.
At the time of the stoppage, the busier Zewski led 67-65 on two cards with Lithuanian Kavaliauskas ahead 67-65 on the other. Ultimately, the harder, more accurate blows of Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) proved decisive.
In the seventh, a right uppercut buckled the knees of Zewski (34-2, 23 KOs) before Kavaliauskas pounded him to the canvas with a volley of blows. Zewski got up at nine before the bell rang to save him, temporarily.
Early in the eighth, Kavaliauskas dropped Zewski with a right hand and referee Kenny Bayless waved it off.
“I was controlling the fight. I was never in danger. I was never hurt,” said Kavaliauskas. “I wanted to knock him out faster, but it happened this way. You can never count on the knockout. I was working. I was putting pressure on him. I saw him slowing down round by round. I saw him getting weaker and weaker. I was just blocking his punches and not feeling his power.
“I don’t think Crawford has any other choices at welterweight. I can ask his team, with all due respect, to give me a rematch because these guys have no opponents yet.”
In a battle of former world title challengers, an impressive Joet Gonzalez scored an emphatic decision over Colombian Miguel Marriaga to stake his claim for another title sortie. Scores were 99-91 (twice) and 97-93.
“This puts me back in the position I want to be. I wanted to be back in with tough guys,” said Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOs). “I told my manager, Frank Espinoza, and my team at Golden Boy that I didn’t want no tune-up fights. I wanted to show people that I could compete with the top guys and be in with heavy hitters and boxers and compete for another title real soon. I want another world title shot. I think I’ve earned it.”
Gonzalez lost a WBO title challenge to Shakur Stevenson last year, but is well placed for another shot at that crown, since vacated, with Emanuel Navarrete and Ruben Villa battling for the title on October 9.
After exchanging body blows early, a vibrant Gonzalez took over in the fourth, rocking Marriaga (29-4, 25 KOs) with a right hand while overcoming damage to the right eye. More busy and heavy-handed, Gonzalez sailed close to a stoppage win in the eighth and tenth with dominant spells but Marriaga hung tough and made it to the final bell.
Main image: A victorious ‘Mean Machine’. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.