WBC Welterweight World Champion Shawn Porter couldn’t have asked for a riskier first title defense when he meets Cuban technician Yordenis Ugas Saturday night on PBC on FOX.
Big things are happening at welterweight with potential blockbuster fights scattered all over the landscape. Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) and Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs) would like to get their hands on these huge opportunities but will have to go through one another first.
This Saturday, March 9, the all-action Porter defends his WBC welterweight title against mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas in a high-stakes twelve-round bout with huge divisional ramifications. Porter-Ugas is the main event on PBC on FOX triple-header live from Dignity Health Sports Park, formerly StubHub Center, in Carson, California (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
The 31-year-old Porter last fought in September 2018, beating Danny Garcia for the vacant WBC 147-pound strap and showing a bit of unexpected nuance en route to a unanimous decision win.
The Akron, Ohio-born, Las Vegas resident is mostly known for a mauling, brawling style that overwhelms opposition. Against Garcia, however, Porter used his fast hands and feet to move in and out on the dangerous left hooker, upsetting expectations with an effort to box rather than engage in trench warfare.
Whether boxing or brawling, though, Porter’s tremendous raw physical ability is clearly evident. He has solid pop in both hands and, more importantly, throws just about everything with bad intent. His trademark relentless, sometimes reckless, offense adds a hefty dose of chaos to the challenge of the gifted two-time world champion.
Throw in a degree of real fearlessness, bolstered by a rock-solid chin, and you have the ingredients that make Porter an elite fighter.
Razor-thin decision losses to Keith Thurman and Kell Brook kept Porter from the top slot at welterweight. But with Thurman’s return, the reemergence of Manny Pacquiao, and the expected fallout from the Errol Spence-Mikey Garcia bout on March 16, there is a window of opportunity for “Showtime” to claim center stage.
All of this makes the upcoming Ugas fight a must-win proposition.
"I expect [Ugas] to be consistently aggressive, I expect him to try to come at me hard like I’ve seen him go at guys in his past previous fights," Porter told RingTV. "And I expect it to be a hard fight. I don’t expect to hit Yordenis one time and then go down, he’s not that kind of fighter."
While Porter is planning to move past Ugas to elite opportunities, the 32-year-old Ugas is looking to upset Porter and scoop up those opportunities for himself.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist representing Cuba, Ugas, who defected to the US in 2010, is intelligent, well-schooled, and adaptive. He works the body well and although he can be a bit wide with his power punches upstairs, superb positioning and reflexes help keep him out of trouble. If allowed to set the rhythm and space of a fight, he will pick apart his opposition from the outside and coast to victory, carried along by his more-than-solid skill set.
The native of Santiago de Cuba, now residing in Miami, is 8-0 since moving up to welterweight in 2016 and has become a bit of a specialist in defeating well-regarded prospects. During that undefeated run, victories over Jamal James, Levan Ghvamichava, Thomas Dulorme, Ray Robinson, and, most recently, Argentina’s Cesar Barrionuevo have cemented his status as a no-nonsense top ten-level welter separating the contenders from the elite.
However, with a win over Porter—in his first crack at a top name-- he moves from being a deadly contender to a world champ with his own chance to roll with the big guys. Ugas clearly knows what is at stake and what he must bring to beat someone like Porter.
"This is a huge opportunity to make my dreams come true of becoming a world champion on FOX,'' said Ugas. "Shawn Porter is a great champion and someone I respect. On March 9, when the bell rings, I'm willing to leave it all on the line, so the fans shouldn't miss this one.”
Porter-Ugas promises to be an interesting tactical matchup. Ugas, like most well-schooled fighters, prefers an orderly, structured contest. He has also struggled at times with next-level hand speed, movement, and athleticism. All of this seems to suggest that Ugas is in for a tough night against Porter.
But history shows that Porter can be outboxed (or at least outpointed) by a smart fighter with comparable athletic ability. And when put in the ring with someone like that, who can also stick to a smart, coherent game plan, his power-boxing style can be shut down just long enough and often enough to lose close rounds.
Against Ugas, Porter would do well to inject some elbow-and-head-flailing chaos into this bout to throw things off-kilter and rattle Ugas. He also may have the raw physical ability to simply beat Ugas to the punch throughout the contest without the rough stuff.
Ugas will have to be smart and sharp, picking Porter off before he dives in and nullifying any inside roughhousing with strategic clinching and a dedicated body attack. All of these are abilities he has demonstrated in the past.
With so much at stake, both fighters should be at their very best. Porter and Ugas both stand on the threshold of big, big things—but only one gets to pass through to the other side.
For a closer look at Porter vs Ugas, check out our fight night page.