Las Vegas- The focus was with Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night. The 40-year old Pacquiao would win a split 12-round decision over Thurman and continued his legacy winning the WBA Welterweight title in the hotly contested welterweight division.
And a 33-year old Cuban, Yordenis Ugas, who wears # 54 on his trunks remained in the welterweight title mix winning a unanimous decision over Omar Figueroa Jr. prior to the Pacquiao-Thurman bout.
Number 54 is worn to signify the Ugas friendship with NY Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, his longtime friend that also came to America for opportunity. Both know something about championships.
Now, Yordenis Ugas is in position again to become a champion at 147. It won’t be easy and he got the win that was needed. A loss and perhaps there is no discussion about Ugas being in the mix again after losing a shot at the WBC title earlier this year to Shawn Porter.
“I knew Figueroa was a tough guy, so I didn’t want to waste my energy trying to take him out early,” said Ugas. “I was ready to go 12 rounds.”
After 12 rounds, all three judges scored the fight the same, 119-107 in favor of Ugas, who became the mandatory for the winner of the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter welterweight title unification.
“I’m extremely happy to be in this position to fight for the WBC title again,” said Ugas. “I will be ready for the winner of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter.”
Spence Jr. and Porter will attempt to unify two of the welterweight titles at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on September 28. That championship fight will be televised on FOx Pay-Per-View as was the Ugas -Figueroa was Saturday night.
But hold on. Because there is no certainty that Ugas will get the winner of that fight as quick as he think even though his bout was billed as a title eliminator.
With Manny Pacquiao, now a champion again for the 15th time, spanning a record eight weight classes, he could get the winner. Then again. with boxing as crazy as it can be, you never know.
And there is talk that Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweatehr Jr. could be on another collision course and redo their record money making fight of 2015.Then also at the MGM Arena,that was an easy Unanimous decision win for Mayweather. He would come out of retirement and risk his undefeated streak of 41-0 if he fights again,
Ugas got off to a strong start, connecting on a straight right hand that sent Figueroa into the ropes, which he held onto so he didn’t hit the canvas in the first round. It was enough that referee Russell Mora ruled it a knockdown.
“The fight played out how I thought it would,” said Ugas. “I came out strong and Figueroa was tough as well. This was similar to the fight everyone expected. I came out on top.”
Figueroa recovered and was able to make it to round two, where he continued his strategy of coming forward to try to hurt Ugas on the inside. Ugas was able to control that action on the inside, landing numerous uppercuts to stun Figueroa. However, the inside fighting led to Ugas being deducted a point by the referee in round five for holding.
“Ugas fought a smart fight,” said Figueroa. “He was smothering me on the inside and holding. I thought the scores were too wide. I was following him and working the whole time. I felt like he only worked the last 30 seconds of the round, but I guess that was all it took.
“I didn’t have any problems with his size. I thought I was able to do my thing, but when he was holding me I couldn’t get my offense going.”
Despite that, and being warned later in the fight for delivering low blows, Ugas,(24-4, 11 KO’s) dominated the fight according to CompuBox, out landing Figueroa 229 to 131 and connecting with 28% of his punches, to Figueroa’s 22%.
After 12 rounds, all three judges scored the fight the same, 119-107 in favor of Ugas. The scorecards here were in agreement.
Now Yordenis Ugas is back in the mix. The question, who is next?
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