Ismail Salas remembers the primary time Yordenis Ugas caught his eye.
Simply three weeks after Ugas started coaching with Salas, he had a sparring session with one in all boxing’s high motion fighters, Gabriel Rosado. Till that second six years in the past, Salas had by no means seen Ugas, who was within the midst of an uneven professional profession. Ugas turned the primary impression into one in all Salas’ greatest matches so far.
“It was a title struggle, quite than a struggle with Rosado,” Salas informed ESPN.
Salas instantly knew what he had in Ugas. However for years the remainder of the boxing world didn’t. And even after an upset victory that despatched future Corridor of Famer Manny Pacquiao into retirement, he nonetheless has to show to those who he is probably the greatest welterweights on the earth. The 35-year-old Cuban is kind of susceptible this weekend in opposition to Errol Spence Jr., one in all boxing’s high pound-per-pound fighters and a unified welterweight champion.
Ugas is totally delighted to be on this place. In any case, that is the one he is aware of so properly by now.
“Folks can say no matter they need as a result of I’ve a behavior of underestimating me in my life,” Ugas informed ESPN by way of a translator. “It is nothing new to me. So I do not actually care if I am the favourite or I am the underdog. In the long run, it is as much as me to show that I could be a champion, a winner, contained in the ring.”
With a win in opposition to Spence on Saturday night time (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at AT&T Stadium, which is just some miles from Spence’s dwelling within the Dallas space, the Ugas (27-4, 12 KO) 4 The title belt would unify the three and play the ultimate spoiler within the 147-pound division.
For years, individuals thought-about Spence (27-0, 21 KO) and Terrence “Bud” Crawford (38-0, 29 KO) the 2 greatest welterweights on the earth. Speak of a possible struggle between two undefeated fighters – one which hasn’t occurred but – has been one in all boxing’s largest tales. Ugas can carry that complete narrative ahead with a win.
If it does, it is going to be one other instance of Ugas capitalizing on its alternatives.
Final yr, Spence was initially scheduled to face Pacquiao, a struggle that might flip Spence into a giant star amongst informal sports activities followers. As an alternative, Spence was compelled to withdraw due to a indifferent retina, which he sustained all through the struggle.
Eleven days earlier than Ugas fought on the undercard in opposition to Fabian Maidan, he was promoted to the primary occasion to face one in all boxing’s all-time best fighters. And the Ugas and Salas had been prepared.
“The one who loses is the one who would not wish to take probabilities and get alternatives,” Salas stated.
For this weekend’s struggle, Ugas is a fair greater underdog. As of Tuesday, Ugas on Caesars Sportsbook was +400, which implies that a bookmaker who bets $100 on Ugas to win would get $400.
Nonetheless, Ugas is extraordinarily assured in his probabilities to show his standing as an elite fighter. This perception stems from his work with Salas throughout coaching camp.
Felix Trinidad, who was inducted into the Worldwide Boxing Corridor of Fame in 2014, stated, “The work he does in coaching, he brings to the struggle and makes use of it very properly.” “He brings that preparation into the ring identical to I used to. It offers me confidence in him, and I do know he’ll do properly.”
Salas, who coached Ugas for the previous 13 matches, believes Spence to be one of the best welterweight on the earth. However that does not imply they do not consider they’ve a troubling begin. Particularly, Salas believes he can use Spence’s aggression in his favor. What they do not even know is that Spence continues to be the identical fighter he was in 2019 earlier than he was injured in a severe automotive accident.
The permanence that Spence confirmed in his 2019 resolution over Shaun Porter, who defeated Ugas by way of break up resolution the identical yr, was not evident in Spence’s victory over Danny Garcia in 2020.
Perhaps it was ring rust, Salas stated. Or possibly it was a insecurity.
“However he was not the identical man,” stated Salas.
These feedback could possibly be seen as derogatory to individuals from a camp that does not have interaction in trash discuss. However they is also the phrases of a coach who believes he and his fighters are prepared to point out skeptics a efficiency they don’t seem to be ready for.
Not less than, it must be thrilling. The Ugas have by no means been identified to again down from battle. And he’s not going to again down from the problem.
“He is a whole underdog,” Salas stated. “However for Ugas, it isn’t an issue. He is a man who, no matter comes earlier than him, when the bell rings, he’ll maintain it.”