12 Rounds With … Yordenis Ugas

Welterweight contender discusses his distinguished amateur career and says not only does he deserve a shot against Errol Spence Jr.—but gives his strategy of how he will dethrone the IBF champion.

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Perrella vs Ugas Highlights: September 27, 2016

Having dominated and knocked out the two most recent southpaws he has faced, Yordenis Ugas believes he can beat left-handed IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence if given the opportunity.

A Cuban bronze medal winner in the 2008 Olympic Games, Ugas (22-3, 11 KOs) has won seven straight fights—four by knockout—while competing from 140-to-158 ½ pounds, a run including split- and unanimous decisions over Levan Ghvamichava and title challenger Thomas Dulorme in February and August 2017.

Jamal James and southpaw Bryant Perrella were a combined 34-0 with 22 KOs before falling by unanimous decision and fourth-round stoppage in 2016 to Ugas, who won a 147-pound IBF eliminator in February when he stopped left-hander Ray Robinson in the seventh round.

Ugas weighed a career-high 158 ½ pounds for his most recent victory, a four-knockdown, second-round TKO of 164 ½ pound Jonathan Batista on last Saturday’s undercard of Spence’s first-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Carlos Ocampo at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas—the Dallas Cowboys’ training center near his hometown of DeSoto.

As an amateur, Ugas claimed victories over current and past champions Terence Crawford, Darlys Perez, Francisco Vargas, Khabib Allakverdiev, Jose Pedraza, Julius Indongo and Sadam Ali. The IBF’s highest-rated contender, Ugas has been directed by that organization to face two-division champion Jessie Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs). The winner between Ugas and Vargas becomes the mandatory challenger to Spence, who has stated that he would prefer to face Vargas over Ugas. 

What are some of your memories of your victories over Crawford, Darlys Perez, Vargas, Allakverdiev, Pedraza, Indongo and Ali?

I have great memories of all of them. With “Bud” Crawford, I beat him 27-10 in the 2007 Pan American Games. It was an awesome fight, but I always knew Crawford had greatness in him and a bright future in the sport. I fought and beat Darlys Perez four times, including in the Pan American Games. 

I’ve beaten Francisco Vargas twice in 2005 and in 2006. I beat Khabib [Allakvrdiev] in the semifinals of the World Amateur Championships, 45-21, in 2005, and both Jose Pedraza and Sadam Ali in 2008. I know I won against Julius Indongo, also, but I don’t remember the score.

With victories over Dulorme, James, Perrella and Robinson, what do you feel your resume says about you?

They show that I can beat fighters who have a variety of styles under different circumstances. Against Dulorme, I got dropped as a pro for the first time in the seventh round but scored two second-round knockdowns and I won the fight.

You took the Dulorme and James fights on short notice, right?

I replaced Shawn Porter against Dulorme on eight days notice. It was a great comeback on a big night. I fought Jamal James on a few days notice.

James was a right-hander replacing Bryant Perrella, who was a southpaw. In both situations, I demonstrated that I have the mentality to overcome adversity.

Do the Perrella and Robinson fights stand out for you, given that they never had been knocked out and they’re southpaws?

Yes, they do – 200 percent. When you’re a southpaw, I know how to handle it. I fight better against southpaws than I do against right-handers.

In those two fights, I provided evidence that I have power and confidence against southpaws, and I truly feel as if I am peaking and that I will be fighting at the height of my career against Spence.

Spence is a special, tremendous champion, and I respect him. But I have a special technique against southpaws that works for me. I like the adrenalin and I love putting on a show. Welterweight contender Yordenis Ugas

Are there any other similarities between Spence and any of the fighters you’ve faced?

Jamal James and Bryant Perrella were two young, undefeated fighters, and they’ve continued to win after I defeated them.

Robinson had a 13-fight winning streak, including eight knockouts, and he had never been stopped. I’m ready for anyone in the division.

Was there any pressure or were you incentivized fighting on Spence’s undercard—knowing you could be his next opponent, albeit, you were fighting at 158 ½ pounds?

I wanted that opportunity, really badly, to show Errol Spence that I was a worthy opponent to fight him, even though there were complications with the weight and it wasn’t within my natural division.

Jonathan Batista was someone who beat me as an amateur, so to be able to score four knockdowns in two rounds was a demonstration of my power. I was confident of victory, even though it was risky.

Why not wait until your next mandatory eliminator?

I wanted to be as active as possible getting ready for a big fight of the magnitude of an Errol Spence, so it was not only a case of being active, but also, getting the exposure of being on his undercard.

What are your thoughts on Spence saying that he prefers fights against current or former champions like Vargas?

How can Spence say that about me when he just fought Ocampo, who is not a champion and he hadn’t won anything? I don’t think Ocampo deserved that opportunity, which showed in his being knocked out in the first round.

Ocampo is not like me, a fighter who has had to prove himself on national television in difficult fights and situations. I’m a two-time amateur world champion and Olympic bronze medalist. I have seven consecutive victories and when I come, I come to fight.

Why can you beat Spence?

Because I’m a seasoned veteran who is more mature and focused than ever. I’m a fierce finisher and counter-attacker with solid defense and endless energy.

Spence is a special, tremendous champion, and I respect him. But I have a special technique against southpaws that works for me. I like the adrenalin and I love putting on a show.

Spence hits me, I’m gonna hit him. I will not back down. It’s for all of those reasons that I believe that a fight between Spence and I has the potential to be a Fight Of The Year.

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