TAMPA – Errol Spence will land another unification bout after all.
Concerns about WBA “Super” welterweight titlist Yordenis Ugas being tied up with back-to-back mandatory title defenses were cleared up by the WBA, who delivered good news ahead of the festive holiday season. BoxingScene,com has confirmed that the WBA granted permission for Ugas move forward with plans for a three-belt welterweight title unification bout with Spence, who owns the IBF/WBC titles.
The development came about after mandatory challenger Eimantas Stanionis agreed to step aside, likely incentivized with a cash offer along with a shot at WBA “World” welterweight titlist Radzhab Butaev.
“Stanionis has agreed to withdraw from the mandatory title fight,” Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, longtime president of the WBA informed BoxingScene.com while ringside for a Showtime Pay-Per-View event at AMALIE Arena in Tampa. “He will now fight Butaev. Errol Spence and Yordenis Ugas, Merry Christmas to you both and let’s have a great fight.”
Spence-Ugas is being targeted for the first quarter of 2022. Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) initially hoped to stage the fight in February in Las Vegas, though such plans were dashed as the request to do the fight came one day after Ugas (27-4, 12KOs) was named as part of a four-man welterweight title consolidation tournament that included Stanions, Butaev and then-WBA “World” titlist Jamal James. Butaev went on to beat James by ninth-round stoppage on October 30 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas to win the title, while Ugas—a 2008 Olympian for Cuba who relocated to Miami upon turning pro—and Stanionis (13-0, 9KOs; 1NC)—who represented Lithuania in the 2016 Rio Olympics—were still negotiating terms for their ordered fight.
A stalemate came from such talks, forcing the WBA to order a purse bid hearing that was scheduled for December 7. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, a deal was reached which allowed for the purse bid to be canceled at the eleventh hour, though it was never suggested that the agreement in place meant that a fight was to come of it.
Instead, the division will now get two fights in the proper pecking order—a three-belt unification and a functional final eliminator in the form of a secondary title fight. The winner of Butaev-Stanionis will become the WBA mandatory challenger for whoever prevails between Spence and Ugas.
Ugas won the WBA “World” title in a twelve-round decision over Abel Ramos last September. He was upgraded to “Super” champion in January, to the dismay of Manny Pacquiao who was downgraded to “Champion in Recess” after failure to inform the sanctioning body of his plans to defend the belt he held since July 2019.
The two eventually met on August 22, with Ugas accepting the fight on eleven days’ notice in place of Spence (27-0, 21KOs) who suffered a torn retina in training and was forced to withdraw. Ugas went on to beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision, though has spent most of the past four months pleading with the WBA to allow a bigger fight in lieu of the less-enticing tournament that was ordered.
Ugas eventually got his wish.
Spence has held the IBF title since May 2017, when he traveled to jolly old England to dethrone Kell Brook via eleventh round stoppage. Five successful defenses have followed, including a twelve-round win over Shawn Porter to claim the WBC title in their thrilling September 2019 title unification bout.
In his most recent start, Spence outpointed former two-division champion Danny Garcia last December at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. The fight was the first in more than 14 months for Spence, who was out of the ring while recovering from injuries sustained in a horrific single car crash in October 2019.
Spence was officially cleared to return from his latest injury to training and full contact on November 1.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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