By Lem Satterfield
Two-time champion Shawn Porter will make the initial defense of his WBC welterweight crown against 2008 Cuban Olympic bronze medal winner Yordenis Ugas on March 9 in Las Vegas as Premier Boxing Champions and FOX return (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.).
In September, Porter (29-1-1, 17 KOs) earned WBA counterpart Keith Thurman’s injury-vacated crown by unanimous decision over Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs), becoming a 147-pound world titlist for the second time by vanquishing the two-division champion at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The triumph represented Porter’s third straight since falling to Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) by “Fight Of The Year Caliber” unanimous decision in June 2016, comprised of a three-knockdown, ninth-round TKO of two-time champion Andre Berto (April 2017), a unanimous decision over Adrian Granados (November 2017) and the win over Garcia.
After defeating Garcia, he 31-year-old Porter had listed among his considerations – and his primary objective -- a unification against left-handed IBF counterpart Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs). But "The Triuth" will instead face four-division and reigning WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) on March 16 at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
But Porter knows that if he is to get his desired shot at Spence, he will have to get beyond the 32-year-old Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs), who has won eight straight fights—four by knockout—while competing from 140-to-158 ½ pounds.
“It’s [Spence-Garcia] a big opportunity for boxing, a big opportunity for Mikey Garcia and Errol Spence,” said Porter of Spence, who climbed into the ring to challenge Porter similar to the way that Porter had done to Danny Garcia after he knocked out Brandon Rios the ninth round in February in Las Vegas.
“For Errol to get into the ring with me after my fight and to say that he wants to fight me, I told him that it was an easy fight to make. But I have mandatories from the WBC, and Errol Spence does not fall into one of those mandatories.”
Porter won the IBF’s crown with a December 2013 unanimous decision that dethroned southpaw Devon Alexander, defended it with a two-knockdown, fourth-round stoppage of two-division titlist Paulie Malignaggi in April 2014, and lost it to Kell Brook by majority decision that August.
Porter is 5-1 with two knockouts since Brook, a run that includes rising from a 12th-round knockdown to secure a unanimous decision over four-division champion Adrien Broner in June 2015.
In other bouts, Thurman will end a 34-month ring absence against title challenger Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) on January 26 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Fox at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT, and Danny Garcia fights Adrian Granados (20-6-2, 14 KOs, 1 NC), of Cicero, Illinois, on April 20 on Fox at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.
“For me, it’s not a matter of me wanting to go in a different direction it’s what happens right now. But the division is full of great champions, great fighters, great individuals, great athletes,” said Porter.
“We’re all going to fight, eventually, and we’re all going to put on great performances for you guys. So I just have to be patient, because I know that it’s coming.”
Ugas’ run including split- and unanimous decisions over Levan Ghvamichava and title challenger Thomas Dulorme in February and August 2017, and a unanimous decision over Cesars Miguel Barionuevo in his last fight in September.
Jamal James and southpaw Bryant Perrella were a combined 34-0 with 22 KOs before falling by unanimous decision and fourth-round stoppage in 2016 to Ugas, who won a 147-pound IBF eliminator in February when he stopped left-hander Ray Robinson in the seventh round.