Friday, February 7, 2020

Thoughts On The Recent Bouts Of Yordenis Ugas And Austin Trout

Initially, the main story for the sport of Boxing heading into Super Bowl 54 weekend was the scheduled WBC Jr. Welterweight world championship bout between champion Jose Ramirez and former world champion Viktor Postol. In a rare circumstance, the bout between the two, which was scheduled to take place on February 1st in China was not cancelled or postponed due to an injury or illness to either fighter, but the cancellation instead came as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic that has severely impacted the country and has subsequently caused significant concern and precautions around the world.

As regular readers of The Boxing Truth®️ know, there was another bout that took place on that evening that perhaps because of the Ramirez-Postol cancellation received more recognition. This observer is referred to the Welterweight encounter between former world title challenger Yordenis Ugas and Mike Dallas Jr. that took place in Biloxi, MS.

In previewing this fight, I stated that the question going in was what version of Mike Dallas would show up. Dallas, a world-class fighter had perhaps been more known for his setbacks than his successes. Since returning to the ring in November 2013 following a two year layoff after suffering a knockout loss at the hands of Lucas Matthysse in January 2013, Dallas had gone unbeaten in five bouts.

The thing that many find appealing about the sport of Boxing as this observer has said many times, is that it is a sport of opportunity and sometimes all it takes is for a fighter to build momentum in order to gain opportunity. Nevertheless, I did wonder in the days leading up to the fight whether this was an opportunity that Dallas would be ready for. Despite the momentum he was able to build, Ugas had been in against a higher level of competition going into this encounter and it was reasonable to ask if Dallas would be ready for a step up.

This bout can be summed up by simply describing the pattern of the combat. From the opening bell, Ugas applied pressure on Dallas. Although Dallas was willing to engage and exchange with Ugas, he could not land anything to discourage Ugas from coming forward and could not break the pattern of being consistently pushed back. Ugas’ greater activity and heavier blows ultimately convinced Dallas’ corner to stop the fight after the seventh round. 

The twenty-fifth victory of Ugas’ career was an impressive one and one frankly that if you’re involved with a fighter who recently fought for a world championship would want to see. Although this performance could best be called workmanlike for Ugas, It will allow him to maintain his position as a top contender in the 147lb. Welterweight division.

Another fighter who saw action on February 1st was longtime Jr. Middleweight contender Austin Trout. Trout, who is best known for his time holding Interim/regular champion status In the World Boxing Association (WBA) Jr. Middleweight ratings where his biggest win came in defending that designation with a unanimous decision victory over future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto in December 2012, last fought in May of last year earning a ten round split decision draw against Terrell Gausha. 

After spending the bulk of his career competing in the Jr. Middleweight division, Trout returned to the ring in Ruidoso, NM, but as a Welterweight where he faced largely unknown veteran Rosbel Montoya.  Although Trout has failed to successfully go from top contender to world champion in his career, most knowledgeable Boxing aficionados would agree he is an elite level fighter who has held his own against some of the best fighters of his era. 

This fight was more of an evaluation type of fight for Trout. What I mean by this for the reader is that even though Trout weighed in slightly above the 147lb. Welterweight limit for this bout, he was testing the waters in a new weight class and in terms of his opposition, Rosbel Montoya could be described by some as a “Journeyman “ entertaining the fight with a record of 17-9-1, with 13 Knockouts. The gleaming statistic of Montoya’s record was that of those nine losses, he had been stopped in eight of those nine fights.

While some may criticize the selection of a fighter with such a record as an opponent for a fighter of Trout’s caliber, fighters like Montoya do serve a purpose of evaluation for fighters at different stages whether they be young prospects on their way up the ranks or, in this case, a world-class boxer looking to test the waters in a new division. It also goes without saying that there are times where fighters with the type of record as the one Montoya brought into the ring with him turn out to be tougher opponents than their records would indicate. 

In this case, it was clear from the opening bell that Montoya was overmatched as Trout scored a knockdown of him in the first round and following a consistent attack to Montoya’s body scored a second knockdown in round two forcing a stoppage of the fight. At the end of the day, this is what one should have been expected to see of a fighter of Austin Trout’s pedigree against a “Game “, but ultimately overmatched fighter. The question is what comes next?

Although this bout did not take place under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner, Trout is still managed by Al Haymon, the primary backer of the PBC. Yordenis Ugas also currently competes under the PBC banner. In thinking of potential options for both fighters, this observer feels it’s logical that Ugas and Trout be potential opponents for each other.

For Yordenis Ugas, a fight against Trout could provide him with another opportunity at a world championship should he be able to score a win against a notable opponent of Trout’s caliber. Now having gotten his feet wet in the 147lb. Welterweight division, a fighter against a top contender like Ugas obviously would provide Trout with an opportunity to launch himself into the discussion of potential world title challengers in the division if he were to defeat Ugas.

Although the current business landscape of the sport has an emphasis on exclusivity both in regard to fighters being under exclusive contracts with promoters and those promoters having exclusive contracts with television networks across both traditional and digital streaming platforms has led to some justifiable criticism regarding some fights not being made that are in public demand, this is one instance where the roadblocks that are present in the sport that prevent fights from taking place are not there. Here you have two fighters in the same weight class and fighting under the same promotional banner. 

As the landscape for the moment continues to emphasize exclusivity where some promoters and networks remain reluctant to work together to put on marquee fights on a consistent basis, it falls on the promoters to focus their efforts on making the best fights that could be made under the current business landscape of the sport of Boxing. Why not this one?

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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