The smooth Cuban technician plans to send a message to the rest of the welterweights when he faces Mike Dallas Jr. Saturday night on FS1.
Last March, Yordenis Ugas just missed becoming the first Cuban welterweight champion in nearly fifty years.
He lost to Shawn Porter that night, though many feel it was the judges who landed the most painful shots. Ugas (24-4, 11 KOs) feels he won but he doesn’t dwell on it. His focus is on earning another shot, and, for that to happen, he must first beat the experienced Mike Dallas Jr., 23-3-2, (11 KOs) this Saturday, February 1, in a 12-round 147-pound showdown that headlines FS1 PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Beau Rivage Resort Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The last Cuban to wear a crown in the 147-pound division was Jose Napoles back in the 1970s – a decade many consider the best. Before Napoles, fellow Cubans such as Luis Rodriguez, Benny Paret, and Kid Gavilan had to get past the likes of Emile Griffith, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Carmen Basilio. Similarly, standing in Ugas’s way is a formidable group of fighters.
“I think the welterweight division has a ton of great fighters,” Ugas said, taking a break from camp. “I look at the champions, first and foremost, as Errol Spence Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.”
Choosing his words with the same attention as he does his combinations in the ring, Ugas provided the type of analysis that should come from ringside, mic in hand.
“I see Errol Spence Jr. as a good boxer who likes to apply pressure,” he noted.
It’s the kind of pressure that has you going back when you wish to go forward. Like a dance partner who leads you the wrong way, his pressure throws off your timing and, when you’re not sure what your next step is, you end up covering up more than punching.
“ I think the welterweight division has a ton of great fighters. ” Welterweight Contender - Yordenis Ugas
“Manny Pacquiao likes to jump in-and-out with very fast hands that make it difficult to time him.”
Unlike a sniper, who can lay in hiding for hours if necessary, waiting for the perfect shot, a boxer doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the target to stand still. He must cautiously pull that trigger. If he misses, Pacquiao has game-changing speed.
“Shawn Porter is very physical and aggressive. Keith Thurman is elusive and awkward, and Danny Garcia has tremendous timing.”
While Ugas is aware of the strengths and skills of the top welterweights, he’s not looking past Dallas. Like Joe Baksi, who took a warmup fight and lost just ahead of a title shot against Joe Louis, Ugas knows that you cannot underestimate anyone.
“I expect Mike Dallas Jr to come in-shape and ready to give me a tough fight.”
From losing questionable decisions to filling in on short notice for a title fight just weeks after the death of his father, Mike Dallas Jr knows how fickle fate can be for some fighters. So does Ugas.
“I know Mike Dallas is 33-years-old and that this might be one of his last chances at a big fight, so I am very prepared for a hungry fighter,” Ugas said. “I believe that I will have a chance to get a stoppage in this fight, but I am not underestimating Mike Dallas Jr. at all, and though I know I will win, it will be up to Mike Dallas as to how I win.”
Ugas is ready to join his fellow Cubans, Napoles, Gavilan, Rodriguez, and Paret as welterweight champion. First, he must beat Dallas. He knows it better than anyone. Because, you can talk about timing, speed, and aggression all you want but, they’re nothing if not accompanied with character. And character is something Ugas has in excess.
For a closer look at Yordenis Ugas, check out his fighter page.