Yordenis Ugas has been ordered to defend his WBA ‘Super World’ welterweight title within 119 days against #1 Eimantas Stanionis as part of a four-person box-off. Then World Boxing Association’s goal behind the four-fighter box-off is to reduce the number of titles at 147 from two to win.
This will likely be seen as a HUGE disappointment for the talented Cuban Ugas, as he’s better options than this in taking part in the WBA’s 4-fighter tournament.
Ugas would like to fight a rematch with Manny Pacquiao after beating him by a 12 round unanimous decision on August 21st. He’d also like to face the winner of the Terence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter fight.
The other fight the WBA has ordered is between WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Jamal James and #5 Radzhab Butavev, which must occur by November. Interestingly, Ugas has already beaten Jamal James by a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision in 2016.
If the WBA wanted to speed things up, they should have ordered the champions Ugas and James to fight it out rather than prolong the situation by adding Stanionis and Butavev into the equation.
Those are decent fighters, but neither of them has much of a chance to be the last man standing in the four-man tourney. It’s very likely going to be Ugas facing James when the smoke clears.
Once these two fights occur, the two winners will meet to fight for the WBA belt in March of 2022.
Mike Coppinger of ESPN is the one first on the news of the WBA’s four-fighter box-off.
It’s a big step up in class for the 2016 Lithuanian Olympian Eimantas Stanionis (13-0, 9 KOs) to be taking on a fighter with as much amateur and pro experience as Ugas.
Obviously, Stanionis doesn’t have to accept the fight if he or his management feel they’re not ready to be fighting a guy in Ugas’ class at this early stage of his career, but he’s probably not going to back out.
The 2016 Olympian Stanionis’s experience as a pro is limited to fights against Luis Collazo, Thomas Dulorme, and Justin DeLoach. You’d like to have seen Stanionis get a few more fights under his belt before he’s thrown in with the killer Ugas, but oh well. It’s sink or swim for Stanionis.
If nothing else, Stanionis will get a big payday fighting Ugas, which might make it worth it, even if he loses the fight. Stanionis will have a puncher’s chance of winning the fight.
This will keep Ugas busy while he waits for a possible rematch with Pacquiao or Errol Spence’s eye injury to heal.