The WBA elevated Yordenis Ugas to “super” champion recently, but Shawn Porter still feels Ugas needs to legitimize himself as a welterweight champ.
If Ugas attempts to do that against Errol Spence Jr., Porter predicted during a recent appearance on “The Ak & Barak Show” that it won’t go well for the Cuban belt-holder. Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs), who almost upset Porter in March 2019, could become the next opponent for Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) because that fight would grant the IBF/WBC welterweight champ an opportunity to add another title to his collection.
“Let me say this – they put Manny Pacquiao in recess, which elevates Ugas to a champion,” Porter told co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes on a show that streams Monday through Friday on DAZN and SiriusXM. “Now you’re a world champion because we’ve made you a world champion. Who are you gonna fight to say, ‘I’m a world champion?’ If it’s gonna be Errol Spence Jr., I don’t see him beating Errol Spence Jr. I think he’s gonna be right there, in the line of fire. He does not have [much] movement, no left or right. He’s gonna get hit with everything that Errol Spence has, and then he’s gonna lose the belt.
“So, I think that he is a world champion now, but he’s gotta fight somebody that he can beat. I don’t know what top guy at welterweight he can beat, to say, ‘Hey, you guys [awarded] me a [championship], but now I solidified it by beating such and such.’ I don’t know who such and such could be.”
Manny Pacquiao became the WBA’s unquestioned welterweight champion when he defeated Keith Thurman by split decision in July 2019 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The Philppines’ Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) has not fought since he edged Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) in their 12-rounder, which was why the WBA designated him its welterweight champion in recess late last month.
Ugas won the then-vacant WBA world welterweight title September 6, when he beat Abel Ramos (26-4-2, 20 KOs) by split decision in their 12-rounder at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Las Vegas’ Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs) fended off Ugas in a much closer fight almost two years ago at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. That marked Ugas’ only loss in his past 12 fights.
“Look, first off, let me say this – I did not think that Ugas could become a champion at welterweight,” Porter said. “Of the top guys who had the belts, I didn’t think that he had what it took to beat any of those guys. And I’m not trying to disrespect him and say that he’s been rewarded [with] a belt or anything like that. I’m happy to see him become a world champion. I understand who Ugas is and I respect him as a person. When I beat him, I looked at who else he could fight to become a world champion, and I said, ‘Man, if he’s able to get down to 140, he’ll become a world champion and live out his dreams of being a Cuban world champion. But if he stays at 147, I don’t think he could ever do it.’ ”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.