The undefeated former Olympian is taking a huge step up in class versus dangerous Justin DeLoach in a welterweight showdown Saturday night on FS1.
Growing up, Eimantas Stanionis was the heavyweight king on the streets of Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania. He was a hyper eight-year-old with a feisty spirit and a choirboy face who couldn’t resist walking away anytime someone antagonized him.
Stanionis’ father took off when he was around two, leaving his mother, Aiste Dzidolikiene, to raise him by herself with his maternal grandparents. Aiste didn’t like Eimantas fighting. But Eimantas never ran from anyone, either. He could get knocked down, punched in the face, but no matter how much he bled, or how badly he was bruised, he always got back up and finished the aggressor.
Stanionis became so good, as he says, “always winning, winning, winning,” that one day, Aiste, saw enough. She grabbed Eimantas by the wrist and walked him to a local gym, where he learned mixed martial arts. He won there, too—until one day, he tried something new, boxing.
He was 13 when he first put on a pair of gloves. Stanionis, 25, recalls the kid he faced that day seemed like he had 10 hands, because punches came at him from every angle imaginable. For the first time, Stanionis got his butt whupped.
“That’s what motivated me to come back,” Stanionis remembered. “When you’re always winning and you lose, you want to get back at the guy who beat you. That’s what kept me coming back to boxing. I always like using my hands.”
Stanionis became so good at using his hands he became Lithuanian champion, a teenager from nowhere who shocked the established international amateur ranks to reach the 2016 Olympics, where he lost to eventual 2016 Olympic welterweight silver medalist Shakhram Giyasov of Uzbekistan, 3-0, in the second round.
As a pro, Stanionis (10-0, 7 KOs) is winning again. But this Saturday, March 14, Stanionis will be risking his undefeated mark against his toughest opponent so far, Justin DeLoach (18-4, 9 KOs), in a 10-round welterweight bout on the co-feature on FS1 PBC Fight Night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), live from the MGM National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
“I’m ready for this,” Stanionis vowed. “I’ve been fighting my whole life. My dad left us when I was a kid, but when I became a professional after the Olympics, he tried coming back into my life. I didn’t want to see him, because he left us when the times were tough. My mother raised me and she’s the toughest person that I know.
“ I wanted this fight. I want the best fighters. ” Undefeated Welterweight Prospect - Eimantas Stanionis
“She’s the one who used to drag me off the streets after I beat someone up. That’s what started me in boxing. It’s funny, because my mother still doesn’t like me fighting. She stays in Lithuania when I fight. She is a very strong woman, and she never complained about anything. She did everything in a hard way and she had a hard life. I learned a lot of lessons from her. Nothing can break her.
“She’s the one who taught me to never run away from anything.”
A year after the 2016 Olympics, Stanionis turned pro. He won his first four fights by knockout and has polished off his last two opponents within the distance. Stanionis has gone eight rounds three times, but never 10.
DeLoach, however, has gone 10 rounds three times, including a lopsided decision loss to unified World Super Welterweight Champion Jeison Rosario in 2018.
“I know (DeLoach) has experience, but I have experience, too,” Stanionis said. “I’m going into this fight concerned with the things I have to do to win. DeLoach is a fighter, I’m a fighter. I have to do my thing to win and look impressive. I have to break this guy and that’s my mentality. I never really care about what my opponent is able to do.
“He’s dropping to welterweight, and I’m a natural welterweight. I wanted this fight. I want the best fighters. I want to face the best welterweights in the world today. I know everyone says this is a big step up. But I’m healthy for the first time in a while.”
Two weeks prior to his fight against Samuel Figueroa in March 2019, Stanionis suffered torn ligaments and a broken right wrist. Still, he fought. Every punch came with seismic pain. He had to undergo surgery to repair it.
“I fought,” Stanionis said. “At the time, I didn’t know I broke my wrist. It was painful, but I had to fight. It was on TV and could not miss that chance.”
Marvin Somodio, a Freddy Roach disciple, is Stanionis’ trainer. He picked him up after Stanionis left Ronnie Shields. This will be Somodio’s second fight with Stanionis as his corner chief.
Somodio is fully aware that DeLoach is 6-foot-1, with a 71-inch reach in comparison to Stanionis’ measurables of 5-foot-8 and 68-inch reach.
“DeLoach is a big, rangy guy,” Somodio said. “We need to make sure we’re in shape, but Stanionis is a natural welterweight and DeLoach is going to have to kill himself to make 147. DeLoach is very experienced, but Stanionis has a really deep amateur past. This is going to be a very good fight, and Eimantas will do his thing to win the fight.”
“I want to see a knockout."
For a closer look at Eimantas Stanionis, check out his fighter page.