The comeback trail for Yordenis Ugas need not include a soft touch. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
That is the statement that the former WBA welterweight title wishes to make as he recovers from injuries sustained in a tenth-round stoppage loss to Errol Spence Jr. in their three-belt welterweight title unification. Ugas suffered a fractured right orbital bone, eventually prompting the ringside physician to instruct referee Laurence Cole to call a halt to the Showtime Pay-Per-View main event at 1:44 of the tenth round Saturday evening at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
As only he can, Ugas (27-5, 12KOs) took the setback in stride and is already thinking about the next step in his career.
“After seeing my doctor during my last visit, the x-rays came back,” Ugas told BoxingScene.com in his first interview since Saturday’s fight with Spence. “He told me I fortunately won’t be needing surgery. My face is healing well and I’m getting better each day.
“In due time I’ll be back in the gym training as I feel I can get back to the top.”
For now, many in the sport are monitoring the progress in a potential undisputed championship between Spence (28-0, 22KOs)—who now holds the WBA/WBC/IBF straps—and WBO titlist Terence Crawford (38-0, 29KOs). The winner will become the first welterweight to hold all four major belts, along with being in high demand for the rest of the division.
Ugas—a 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist for Cuba who resides in Miami and trains in Las Vegas—plans to earn his way back to a second title reign. On his future hit list is a desired showdown with fellow former titlist Keith Thurman (30-1, 22KOs), who returned from a 30-plus month hiatus with a twelve-round win over Mario Barrios earlier this year.
“I just want to be in the biggest fights possible, against the biggest names in the sport,” insists Ugas. “Keith Thurman is one of the best fighters of our era, and I think a fight with him would be one the fans would enjoy.
“We are both warriors and bring a lot of excitement to the ring.”
Ugas won a secondary version of the WBA title in a September 2020 victory over Abel Ramos, receiving an upgrade to full champion last January.
His lone successful title defense came in a career-best victory, outpointing legendary Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39KOs) over twelve rounds last August 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Ugas fought through a biceps injury in accepting the opportunity on just eleven days’ notice, replacing Spence who suffered a retinal tear requiring surgery.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox