Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Thoughts On Spence-Ugas


The fight between Welterweight world champions Errol Spence and Yordenis Ugas on the surface was a unification of three of five recognized world championships in the illustrious 147lb. Welterweight division. Like most “Big” fights, it also had several storylines that accompanied the bout. Such as what the condition on Errol Spence’s left eye would be after suffering a detached retina. Could Yordenis Ugas, who was coming off a career-defining victory over Manny Pacquiao in his first defense his world championship, a victory which came as a result of replacing Spence on short notice, further cement his claim as a world champion by going on to defeat Spence as well. Would the winner of this fight be moved toward a showdown with undefeated WBO Welterweight world champion Terence Crawford for what would be an Undisputed world championship bout?


Such intriguing questions would in part be answered when the two world champions met on April 16th at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX to unify Spence’s WBC/IBF crown with the WBA world championship held by Ugas. Although this bout had all the appearance of a tactical encounter between two boxer/punchers, sometimes what appears on paper prior to a fight, turns out to be just that on paper. What would instead happen would be a competitive battle of wills.


For a time in the early rounds, the two fighters seemed to match each other punch for punch with the sequence usually consisting of Spence throwing first, often in combination and Ugas looking to land counter punches. While Ugas was able to have success with this approach periodically, gradually the story of the fight became the sheer volume of Errol Spence's combinations, which kept Ugas consistently on the defensive and at times appearing overwhelmed.


This did not stop Yordenis Ugas however, from continuing to make a fight of it and in round six  he would produce arguably the highlight of the fight by knocking Spence’s mouthpiece out with a right hand and taking advantage when a distracted Spence, trying to get Referee Lawrence Cole's attention about his mouthpiece having been knocked out of his mouth, would be knocked into the ropes by a left hook, straight right hand combination by Ugas. Cole appeared to make a questionable call at this point in the fight by momentarily halting the action to have Spence’s mouthpiece rinsed and put back in.


The reason why this was questionable and some may go as far as to call it controversial is because Spence was clearly stunned by this combination and frankly, I feel it probably should have been ruled a knockdown as the ropes appeared to prevent Spence from going down, which under the rules of Boxing is justification for a knockdown being ruled. Furthermore, Cole's decision to halt the action at that particular point allowed Spence valuable seconds to recover and arguably take an opportunity from Ugas to turn the ebb and flow of the fight in his favor.


With Spence back in control, the rhythm of the fight continued in his favor and gradually the accumulation of punishment became apparent as Ugas’ right eye would swell shut. Despite the combat increasingly moving in one direction, Ugas nevertheless showed his mettle and continued to fight on. Although no one can take anything away from the heart Yordenis Ugas showed in this fight, the effects of the punishment simply could not be ignored and the bout would be stopped in the tenth round.


Despite Ugas protesting the stoppage on advice of a ringside physician, it was revealed in the days following the bout that Ugas had in fact suffered a broken orbital bone in addition to his right eye being swollen shut. As much as one can sympathize with a fighter in Yordenis Ugas’ position, the stoppage of this fight was justified. Although it is hard not to have sympathy for a fighter having lost his world title in a heartbreaking way in not being allowed to continue, such decisions can prove to be crucial in not just a fighter’s ability to continue on with their career, but also their long-term health.


Yordenis Ugas has nothing to be ashamed of. He fought like a true champion and he should hold his head high. He is still one of the best fighters in the world and remains a player in the talent-deep Welterweight division. For now, obviously he will need time to heal before he can decide on where he will go with his career off of this loss.


As for Errol Spence, the obvious question coming out of this fight is whether a fight can be made between him and undefeated WBO world champion Terence Crawford for what would be the Undisputed Welterweight championship of the world. Although Terence Crawford is as of this writing a promotional free agent and would appear to be in an ideal position to make such a fight happen, his current legal dispute with his former promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., as well as Spence’s alignment with the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters and manager Al Haymon, who will likely look to negotiate terms that will be favorable for the PBC will likely play a factor in how quickly a fight between Spence and Crawford can be made.


While there is certainly no shortage of possible challengers for both world champions, the Boxing world can only hope that Spence and Crawford each tell their respective representatives to make the fight happen and avoid grandstanding and other interests. Promoters and managers after all are supposed to first and foremost look out for the best interests of the fighters they represent rather than their other interests.


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”


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