Eimantas Stanionis Bullies Radzhab Butaev In Split
Decision Win To Capture WBA Welterweight Title
Photos: Amanda Westcott - SHOWTIME
Eimantas Stanionis moved a step closer to establishing
himself as one of the sport’s best welterweights with an
action-filled split decision win against the rugged
Radzhab Butaev, lifting his WBA title in the main event
of a special edition of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
that preceded the four-fight Spence vs. Ugas SHOWTIME
PPV® from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
In a bout fought at close range, Stanionis landed the
crisper, more eye-catching shots, repeatedly rocking the
sturdy Butaev with hard rights and a reliable jab in the
most complete performance of his career. He won by
judges’ scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 113-114,
improving to 14-0 with 9 knockouts, while Butaev, who
had a point deducted in the 11th for holding and
hitting, suffered the first defeat of his career,
dropping to 14-1 with 11 knockouts.
“I still can’t believe it,” Stanionis said afterward.
“It was a dream come true to hear ‘and the new.’ When I
was a kid, I visualized what this would look like and
how it would feel to become a champion. It’s because of
the hard work, dedication, belief in myself and my team
to get me to this big stage. I just want to tell
everybody that dreams do come true. If you believe in it
and give your everything, it will happen.
Displaying a granite chin and impressive punch
selection, Stanionis, a 27-year-old former Olympian from
Lithuania, made his case for securing a fight with the
winner of Saturday’s main event between IBF/WBC
welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and WBA champion
Though Butaev threw 146 more punches than Stanionis,
Stanionis landed at a 37% connect rate while Butaev’s
connect rate was 19%, according to CompuBox. Stanionis
almost quadrupled Butaev in jabs landed 80-21 with
Stanionis also landing 42% of his power punches while
Butaev landed 29%.
“The fight went like this because the referee allowed
Stanionis to fight with his head down the entire time,”
Butaev said. “What can I do if the guy is leading with
his head down all the time? I don’t know why he took
away a point from me. They should have taken the point
away from him because he was diving in the whole time.”
Butaev tried to mix up his attack, switching from
southpaw to orthodox, but Stanionis had little trouble
solving these different looks.
Stanionis landed a looping overhand right that landed
flush in the tenth. But Butaev appeared to buckle
Stanionis in the 11th and bloody his nose with a series
However, moments later Butaev was deducted a point for
pushing Stanionis’ head down in a clinch and punching,
blunting his momentum.
Butaev made a stand in the last two rounds, pushing
Stanionis back with punishing shots but it was Stanionis
who, seemingly tiring, answered with two sweeping right
hands in the final minute, as the crowd cheered on the
The match ended with both men falling to the canvas,
winging shots, an appropriate coda to an entertaining
In the telecast opener, rising star Brandun Lee didn’t
stop his opponent, but he did remain undefeated, beating
a very defensive Zachary Ochoa in a super lightweight
bout via unanimous decision to move to 25-0 with 22
Entering the bout, Lee had stopped his previous 15
straight opponents, demonstrating the concussive power
that has made him one of the most talked about young
fighters in the sport.
The 22-year-old Lee never landed a fight-ending bomb
against Ochoa, but he did push the action and land the
more telling punches against an opponent who moved
backward for most of the bout and was determined not to
get knocked out.
Lee, who was Ring Magazine’s Prospect of the Year in
2021, went 10 rounds for the first time in his career,
winning by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 98-92, and going
the distance for the first time since 2018 in a
performance that Lee will surely learn from moving
“I think that only two rounds were close, the seventh
and maybe the ninth,” Lee said. “It was exactly what I
expected. Perhaps I could have performed better, my
combinations been a bit sharper, but it was a good fight
overall. Fighting at AT&T Stadium was a blessing. Wow,
what an experience. It motivates me even more to come
back here and be a headliner one day. I want to be a
world champion at 140, unify titles, become undisputed
and then become a world champ at 147.”
Lee of La Quinta, Calif., landed 31% of his power
punches and 18% of his total punches, according to
CompuBox. Lee pinned Ochoa (21-3, 7 KOs) against the
ropes in the third and rained down rights and lefts as
Ochoa did his best to avoid any fight-ending blows.
Ochoa landed a nice left-right combination in the
fourth, but Lee closed the round well, landing uppercuts
and rights to push Ochoa back.
Lee bloodied Ochoa’s nose in the fifth with a right
uppercut as Ochoa continued to move backwards but the
action was sparce after that. Lee showed his frustration
as the seventh closed, looking at Ochoa with annoyance
as he walked back to the corner.
At the urging of his trainer, Brooklyn’s Ochoa stopped
moving and started to trade shots on the inside with Lee
in the ninth. Lee capitalized, landing a series of nice
uppercuts and an overhand right, showcasing impressive
hand speed. Ochoa’s face showed the results with
swelling under his left eye. Ochoa’s finest moment came
in the tenth when he landed a clean overhand right, but
Lee took it well and fired back with his own shots.
"Brandun Lee is a really good fighter, a strong
fighter,” Ochoa said. “I feel I was doing really well.
He caught me a little bit, but I kept my confidence, my
poise and when it was time to step it up the last three
rounds, I started putting the pressure on him and we
went at it. I went all out. He’s never had it like that.
I only got hurt one time, maybe at the end of the
seventh. I know I buzzed him too.”