Yordenis Ugas had three goals: 1 – beat Manny Pacquiao in the biggest fight of his career at the time, 2 – unify the welterweight titles, 3 – prove he is the best welterweight in the world today. As we know, the slick and hard-working Cuban has achieved goal #1, having upset living legend Pacquiao on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Now Ugas, 27-4(12) says he wants to get busy achieving goal #2 – unifying the belts.
But will Errol Spence, IBF and WBC champ at 147, and/or Terence Crawford, WBO ruler at welterweight, be willing to fight Ugas? Crawford seems headed to a big (ish) fight with Shawn Porter (against whom, Ugas dropped a very debatable split decision a couple of years ago), while nobody knows how soon Spence’s eye will be sufficiently healed for him to be able to fight again.
Ismael Salas, the grossly underrated trainer of Salas (among a number of other superb fighters, either past or present), shot back a message to this site’s question of who will Ugas face next – Salas answering how Ugas, “will next fight anyone who wants to fight Ugas.” Does Salas wonder if the likes of Spence and Crawford will actually want to fight his guy?
“I am so proud of Yordenis,” Salas added. “He is proving how any elite fighter in the welterweight division has to prove they can match him.”
If Ugas were to fight Spence and/or Crawford (or Porter in a return fight if Porter beats Crawford), he will see himself achieve goal #3 – that of being recognised as the best welterweight in the world today. There is a lot of work to be done yet, and getting the Spence/Crawford/Porter fights might prove to be the toughest task for the 35 year old. But already, Ugas has had a superb 2021.
What 2022 holds for him we can only wonder. It could be argued how, of his four official defeats, each of them coming via incredibly close verdict: Johnny Garcia, split decision in 2012, Emanuel Robles, split decision in 2014, Amir Imam unanimous decision in 2014, and Porter, split decision in 2019 – only one of them was legit. From May of 2014, after the loss to Imam, to August of 2016, Ugas did not fight at all.
He sure is back now, and Ugas is living proof of how not giving up, instead working hard, can pay off.