Yordenis Ugas kept alive his hopes of landing a second title shot, although his latest performance merely kept him active while waiting out the division’s elite.
The top-rated welterweight contender had his way with journeyman Mike Dallas Jr., dominating nearly every second of his 7th round stoppage win in their Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 headliner Saturday night at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The one-sided affair came without any knockdowns on the night. The action was lopsided enough, however, for Dallas’ corner to inform referee Bill Clancy their charge was done for the night, with the end coming at 3:00 of round seven.
"I'm not overly excited about my performance, but the most important thing was to get the victory and take a step closer to getting the title shot," Ugas said after picking up his second straight win.
Though not generally known for his knockout ability, Ugas took the initiative right from the opening bell. The quicker-than-normal start was noticeable for the Miami-based Cuban boxer, who left enough doubt in the eyes of two of the three judges in a challenge of then-welterweight titlist Shawn Porter last March.
Ugas’ strong arm tactic served well here, as Dallas Jr.—a second-generation boxer—didn’t have much in the way of return firepower. As sunc, the 33-year old contender spent most of the opening round stalking his foe. A low blow left Dallas Jr. limping around the ring midway through the frame, as he was urged by referee Bill Clancy to not retaliate. Ugas kept it clean for the rest of the round (and the fight), rocking Dallas Jr. with a right hand and left hook which forced the journeyman to clinch.
Traffic remained the same direction in round two, as Ugas continued to stalk his prey. Dallas Jr. spent most of the round fending off Ugas’ attack, having to clinch after getting rocked by a clean right hand to the chin. Ugas followed up with a right hand and left hook to the body just before the bell.
"The game plan was to come forward, come strong," Ugas noted. "I always work the body strong and want to push the action and that's what I did tonight."
Dallas Jr. did his best to turn the tide, taking the lead in round three. A right hand managed to get through for the Bakersfield, California native, although the moment was short-lived. Ugas turned the tide with a right hand of his own, only for an ensuing body shot to get passed off as a low blow. Dallas Jr. sold the referee on a borderline shot as a foul due to Clancy being on the wrong side of the action, but nevertheless was given plenty of time to recover.
As was the case with the opening round infraction, Ugas went on the attack the moment action resumed. It spilled over into round four, where the Cuban contender continued to walk down Dallas. A right hand upstairs was followed by two left hooks to the body, though Dallas rolling with the shots and remaining in the pocket in his best effort to counter. It didn’t work out that way, although he found a way to avoid further damage.
Ugas spent much of round five working behind the jab, while Dallas was doing his best to survive. Ugas connected with an uppercut late in the round, also scoring with left hooks and body shots as Dallas’ offense all but shut down. A sequence late in the round threatened to produce the bout’s first knockdown, as Ugas launched a right followed by Dallas falling into the ropes. It was correctly ruled a slip by Clancy, as replays show the punch didn’t land and Dallas’ legs falling out from under him in a drenched corner.
Following a slow-moving 6th round, Dallas took a more aggressive approach in round seven. The strategy didn’t hurt as he was well behind to that point, producing his best offensive moments of the fight to that point. It didn’t bother Ugas in the least, planting his feet and going on the attack in the second half of the round.
It certainly bothered Dallas, who walked with a pep in his step back to his corner—though to let his corner know that what he was putting out just wasn’t working in the ring.
From there, came the decision by his handlers to mercifully call it a night.
“(Dallas’) corner said he was taking too much punishment and didn’t want to see him get hurt any worse,” FS1’s Jordan Plant (nee Hardy) reported from ringside on the development. “They want him to live to see him fight another day.”
Because the stoppage came at the start of the one-minute rest period, the official verdict was ruled as a stoppage at the end of round seven.
It’s the second straight for Ugas since his aforementioned loss to Porter as he advances to 25-4 (12KOs). The resurgent welterweight—who is now 10-1 since returning to the ring in 2016 following a two-year hiatus—doubled up Dallas (23-4-2, 11KOs) in connect percentage, landing 136 of 360 total punches for a 38% success rate. Dallas Jr. landed just 19% of his shots, 46 of 247 total punches breaking Ugas’ defense though none having any impact in the grand scheme of things.
For Ugas, the bout provided means to remain active while waiting out a second career title fight. He’d hoped to have been facing Alexander Besputin for a secondary welterweight belt as his mandatory challenger, only for the unbeaten Russian to abandon negotiations due to reportedly suffering an injury. He has since surfaced on the naughty list, after testing positive for Lingandrol following his 12-round win over Radzhab Butaev last November.
As Besputin is left to plead his case in efforts to clear his name, Ugas remains on the hunt for a chance to put a belt around his waist. It could come in the form of a vacant title fight should Besputin be stripped of the belt, which might be the quickest path to a strap.
Unified titlist Errol Spence is eyeing an early summer ring return after recovering from injuries in a single car crash last October. Eight division and current welterweight titieholder Manny Pacquiao has yet to announce a date or opponent for his next fight, although the legendary Filipino southpaw is at a point in his career where it’s seemingly superfights or bust.
An outside opportunity could come in a crack at Terence Crawford, the Top Rank-promoted unbeaten titlist and pound-for-pound entrant who is not exactly a favorite in the PBC universe despite his having faced several past fighters from under that banner.
Whatever comes of his next step, Ugas can only strengthen his chances by continuing to win.
"The main goal now is to keep winning and fight for a title," insists Ugas. "I'm ready for all of the top welterweights."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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