Yordenis Ugas couldn’t believe what unfolded right in front of him the night of July 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The former WBA welterweight champion anticipated a very competitive fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford. Watching Crawford dominate a then-unbeaten Spence was perplexing to Ugas, who lost his WBA belt to Spence in Spence’s previous fight 15 months earlier.
“I don’t know what the f--- happened,” Ugas told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “I mean, that wasn’t the Spence that fought with me. He seemed like a completely different person.”
Crawford dropped Spence three times – once in the second round and twice during the seventh round – on his way to a ninth-round, technical-knockout victory that made him the first fully unified welterweight champion of the four-belt era. A sharper, stronger Crawford completely controlled the action after the first round of their fight for Crawford’s WBO 147-pound championship and Spence’s IBF, WBA and WBC crowns.
Crawford led by the same score, 79-70, on the cards of judges Tim Cheatham, David Sutherland and Steve Weisfeld entering the ninth round. Referee Harvey Dock stopped their fight at 2:32 of the ninth round because Spence, who was on his feet, had taken too much punishment.
The 33-year-old Spence has since exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch. Neither the date nor the weight limit for their second fight have been set, but Spence expressed his desire after suffering his first defeat to challenge Crawford seven pounds higher – at the junior middleweight maximum of 154 pounds – in their second showdown.
Ugas suspects squeezing himself down to 147 pounds adversely affected Spence’s performance in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.
“I think at 154,” Ugas said, “the rematch will be a more competitive fight.”
The Cuban-born, Las Vegas-based Ugas will fight for the first time September 30 since Spence stopped him in the 10th round of their title unification fight in April 2022 at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) will square off against San Antonio’s Mario Barrios (27-2, 18 KOs) in a 12-round fight for the WBC interim welterweight title on Showtime Pay-Per-View’s Canelo Alvarez-Jermell Charlo undercard at T-Mobile Arena.
The third-ranked Ugas or the fifth-rated Barrios could be elevated to full champion by the WBC if Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) gives up his title to move up to the 154-pound division for his rematch with Spence (28-1, 22 KOs). Ugas, 37, is listed as a 5-1 favorite to beat Barrios, 28, despite that Ugas won’t have boxed in 17 months since his loss to Spence.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.