Yordenis Ugas remains in search of championship treatment two months after the biggest win of his career.
The reigning WBA “Super” welterweight titlist has voiced his displeasure over an ordered tournament at his weight, which functionally disrupts any plans for a title unification clash. Ugas hoped to parlay his win over the legendary Manny Pacquiao this past August into a three-belt showdown with WBC/IBF champ Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs) but instead finds himself no fewer than two fights away from reaching that goal.
“It is disrespectful for the WBA to have a tournament to define their champion, when I am the super champion,” Ugas exclaimed in a lengthy statement Monday, complete with a video further voicing his displeasure.
Ugas (27-4, 12KOs) successfully defended his title for the first time with a 12-round, unanimous decision victory over Pacquiao this past August at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. There existed a dispute preceding the fight as to whether Ugas deserved his title status, with Pacquiao’s team—and far too many media members—claiming that the former eight-division champ was unceremoniously stripped of his belt earlier this year. The WBA ruled that Pacquiao failed to update the sanctioning body on his upcoming plans, thus upgrading Ugas from “World” to “Super” champion—a move that was expected to allow Ugas to face Spence earlier this summer.
Pacquiao—who was downgraded to “Champion in Recess” shook up such plans after confirming this past May his intention to challenge Spence. Their scheduled August 21 bout fell apart less than two weeks from fight night when Spence was a medical scratch due to a torn retina. Ugas stepped in to face Pacquiao, removing all doubt as to who deserved the crown.
Rather than being able to control his own destiny, however, Ugas was instead instructed to enter a four-man box-off to consolidate the WBA welterweight title. Jamal James (27-1, 12KOs)—whom Ugas beat in his August 2016 comeback fight—was ordered to defend his WBA “World” title versus mandatory challenger Radzhab Butaev (13-0, 10KOs; 1NC), with their bout taking place October 30 in Las Vegas.
Ugas is on the hook to face Lithuania’s Eimantas Stanionis (13-0. 9KOs; 1ND), with terms for such a fight not yet reached nor is the matchup remotely appealing to the reigning champ.
Spence, Ugas and James all fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. Stanionis has spent virtually his entire career on PBC shows, though is officially promoted by Richard Schaefer’s upstart Probellum promotional company. Mixing and matching fights would otherwise come with little politics involved, though the WBA ruling presents a more problematic scenario for all involved parties.
“I just beat a legend and I have a victory over regular champion Jamal James,” notes Ugas. “WBA mandatory fights are always to fight for the regular title. I fought Abel and got promoted when Pacquiao was out of the sport. I have three questions for the WBA:
- With everything and the reduction of the title that the WBA has, what super champion has a mandatory fight imposed? Even though he's on his way to a three-championship unification.
- Which super champion in history has had a mandatory fight for the WBA super champion title?
Anthony Joshua (former unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist)
Arsen Goulamirian (cruiserweight)
Dmitry Bivol (light heavyweight)
Saul Alvarez (WBC/WBA/WBO super middleweight champ)
Jermell [Charlo – WBA “Super”/WBC/IBF middleweight champ)
Josh Taylor (undisputed junior welterweight champ)
Teofimo Lopez (WBA “Super”/WBO/IBF middleweight champ)
Gervonta Davis (former WBA “Super” junior lightweight tilist; current WBA “World” lightweight and junior welterweight titlist)
Leo Santa Cruz (featherweight)
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (WBA “Super”/IBF junior featherweight titlist)
Naoya Inoue (WBA “Super”/IBF bantamweight titlist)
Artem Dalakian (flyweight)
“None of these 14 champions have mandatory fights imposed and their next fight will not unify [the] championship. Why that different treatment with me?”
Ugas presents a valid point, although several of the aforementioned titlists have been ordered to next face their WBA mandatory challenger as part of the sanctioning body’s continued effort to consolidate its titles.
Akhmadaliev saw his ordered fight with Ronny Rios head to a purse bid, which was won by Matchroom Boxing who will stage the fight November 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Santa Cruz is ordered to next face the winner of the WBA “World” featherweight title fight between Leigh Wood and Michael Conlan, which remains in discussion. Dalakian and Goulamirian both have mandatory title defenses scheduled for November.
None of the four, however, were ordered to enter a tournament which prevents them from other titlists. That remains a sore point with Ugas, who came up the hard way and has earned his place at the table.
“I respect all the fighters. But what has [Stanionis] done in  fights of which 4 have been with fighters with more losses than won and only 4 years of career,” questions Ugas. “[H]is biggest victory was… against Dulorme that I [beat] 5 years ago, to have a shot at the WBA super champion title and ruin a unification fight?
“The dream of every fighter is to be a champion, then to unify and that is my intention that I think I have earned. I am excited to be the first Cuban fighter to fight three championships in one night. My team and I will reach the last consequences for our right. #SpenceUgas—a three-championship fight between two of the world's best welterweights is what fans want to see.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox