This Saturday night Errol Spence Jr. and Yordenis Ugas meet in a unification bout live on Showtime PPV from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Fresh off his upset victory over first-ballot Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, Yordenis Ugas is ready to make another statement. Mystery surrounds Errol Spence as it pertains to him being back to his old self, which only adds to the intrigue of fight week. A reminder theirs six fights in total, four on the PPV card and two on Showtime before the main card begins.
It’s been a long journey full of adversity for Errol Spence returning to the ring. Errol’s eye injury has been long reported, and of course, in the boxing twitter/podcast world, that meant the conspiracies followed almost immediately. A picture taken leaving the hospital with a bandage over his eye was twisted into a lie about it being on the wrong eye. Like most Q-boxing theories, it was easily debunked, but that didn’t stop the usual suspects from getting YouTube hits, pod listens, and Twitter impressions.
Back in the real world, we know that Errol’s eye was cleared by medical professionals to get back to the sport he loves. Some still believe that the internal injuries sustained from his dramatic car accident in the fall of 2019 equate to being a shell of his former self or, at the very least, not fully 100%. All and all, this boxing podcaster thought he looked pretty dang good versus Danny Garcia in late 2020. Of course, that comes with the context of the damage the car wreck did, the long healing process, and an extended time out of the ring.
Things were on the up and up in the summer of 2021 for Errol until he felt/heard a pop in his eye during a sparring session. After getting his eye checked, a serious issue with his retina was found, deeming him unable to get sanctioned to face Manny Pacquiao. Already scheduled on the undercard, Ugas stepped in, and the rest is history in what was a very meaningful victory for the Cuban native.
Luckily, Errol’s eye is back working properly, but until we see how he reacts to getting hit with 8-ounce gloves directly on the eye, the mystery will remain to see if it actually holds up. The medical world has taken massive steps as far as retina surgery and recovery. Several success stories come to mind, Abner Mares suffered an eye injury early as a pro and went on to achieve majorly.
The injuries are one thing, but we can’t forget about the time spent out of the ring. Spence has just one fight since September 2019 against Shawn Porter and will now have spent around 16 months on the shelf. So even if his eye and overall body is good to go facing such a crafty boxer in Ugas will be difficult regardless. How much ring rust will Spence have? There aren’t many boxers who can take large gaps of time out of the ring and come back looking like they never left.
Yordenis Ugas has made his mark over the last chunk of years after taking some early losses and his own hiatus out of the ring. One could make an argument that Ugas is unbeaten in his 13-fight run if you thought he beat Shawn Porter. Ugas was inactive for over two years after losing back-to-back fights. His return in August of 2016 was an impressive win over a replacement foe in Jamal James. Ugas was willing to take fights on late notice as he grinded his way to the Porter matchup on FOX that was seen by over 2 million fans. And now, here he stands on the cusp of greatness if he can overcome the odds this weekend.
Breaking down the X’s and O’s of this welterweight unification bout, Yordenis is a +300 and up underdog, but don’t let those numbers on paper fool you. Ugas is a very capable fighter with real skills, even if they don’t always jump off the screen and into your living room. Ugas uses subtleness to get the job done in the way of footwork and punching range readiness. His angles presented with great footwork and timing is a handful for any 147-pounder. Ugas is an efficient and accurate puncher who can mix in body punching and counter-punching, especially with the right hand over the jab. He doesn’t have great defense, and that may be what ultimately will cause him to lose this fight.
Spence is a guy who loves to establish a jab, and he throws it in a variety of ways and speeds. He generally prefers to cut off the ring on his opponents and then attack the body. Once the mid-section is marinated so-to-speak, out comes the hooks with both hands. When he was on the rise as a prospect/contender, he was able to finish with the best of them or at least score highlight-reel knockdowns like the one he landed on Shawn Porter. Against Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia, he couldn’t knock them down, which Spence blames on his conditioning outside the ring blowing up in weight between training camps. A key to look out for is Spence moving in straight lines coming forward or taking a step directly backward, which is a no-no on the top level.
Saturday’s scrap will be a nip and tuck battle thru, say, eight rounds. It will be interesting to see what approach Spence takes with a counterpuncher who isn’t afraid to mix it up on the inside. If Spence is close to the Spence, we know he will have made the correct adjustments to ensure he lands the cleaner shots, whether that’s taking a step back with an angle or to the side to counter Ugas’s lead or counter punching. Can Ugas keep his chin tucked away when at close range, which will likely be most of the rounds? Ugas’s counters combined with lateral movements and/or ability to pivot could be enough to frustrate Spence into mistakes.
One thing is for certain Errol’s punch rate and the lack of activity at times coming from Ugas. Make no mistake about it; Yordenis has to increase his output, even if it’s just a tick, in order to show the judges his work. Spence is the clear ‘A’ side fighting in his hometown, so landing potshots no matter how clean they land won’t do the trick alone. Not saying Ugas has to knock Spence out but by moving his hands a little more and at least hurting, if not dropping Errol, is a must. The truth will come out one way or another when it comes to Errol Spence and where he stands as an elite welter. If you’re even ever so slightly on the fence, you should probably make a legal wager on Ugas, given the current odds.
My Official Prediction is Errol Spence by Majority-Decision.
Side Note: Keep an eye out for Stanionis vs. Butaev, along with prospects facing gatekeepers in Crowley vs. Lopez and Valenzuela vs. Vargas on the undercard.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Com Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio