ESPN results: Egidijus Kavaliauskas beats Juan Carlos Abreu by decision
With an unexpected spotlight shined on him, the “Mean Machine” Egidijus Kavaliauskas got the victory over Juan Carlos Abreu via 10-round, unanimous decision, on Saturday night, to remain undefeated. Originally billed as the co-feature, the contest was the main event of an ESPN card held at the Save Mart Center, in Fresno, California.
After Danny O’Connor’s health scare, during Friday’s weigh-in, WBC junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez couldn’t hide his disappointment to close out fight week. Ramirez, Avenal, California, is one of very few young fighters to have a reliable home base but, even after the cancellation of his first title defense, the show had to go on.
Kavaliauskas, 20-0 (16), a welterweight contender from Lithuania, was tabbed to step in to try and salvage the event but, even though it was a victorious night, it could’ve been much better under the circumstances. Less than one minute into the fight, Kavaliauskas sustained a leaking cut near his right eye from what seemed like a head clash but a replay would prove otherwise. Abreu, an experienced Dominican measuring stick, wasn’t aggressive to start but his counterpunching was good enough to keep Kavaliauskas from doing what he wanted. Kavaliauskas fought for the inside position but, with Abreu fighting off his back foot, it wasn’t easy to corral him into an exchange, and, by round three, frustration could be sensed from the Mean Machine, as he constantly pawed at that ill-placed cut, while chasing his opponent.
Abreu, 21-4-1 (19), could’ve made things much closer, had he fought with the same energy as he did to end the fourth round. The 31-year-old’s reaction time was sharp and, when he did throw, it mostly prevented Kavaliauskas from getting into a groove offensively rather than be a serious threat. Kavaliauskas, 30, got the fight he desired in the mid-to-late rounds, and, there, he was able to get the opportunity to show off his right hand. Abreu took shots well and never showed much wariness in the moments Kavaliauskas did land clean. Not being active enough was ultimately Abreu’s downfall but a fun action round in the 10th, at least, made the awkward fight worthwhile, in the moment, and warrant a celebration from the Dominican in the end. Kavaliasukas ended up winning on wide scorecards (97-93 twice, 96-94) and the final punch stats of 119-72 also could make one wonder where all those punches landed. There wasn’t too much celebrating in Kavaliauskas’ corner but he did beat a game opponent to remain undefeated. However trying to get himself in there for a title shot against WBO beltholder Terence “Bud” Crawford may be lost for the time being.
In the opening bout of the ESPN telecast, Andy “El Tiburon” Vences, 21-0-1 (12), outboxed Frank De Alba, 22-4-2 (9), to earn a wide unanimous decision (99-91 twice, 98-92). The 10-round, junior lightweight contest was bumped up to the co-main event slot after Friday’s cancellation of the main event.