Errol Spence Jr. stops Yordenis Ugas in 10 to unify welterweight titles
ARLINGTON — Errol Spence Jr. made a triumphant return to Errol Spence Jr.—that is when referee Laurence Cole allowed him—on Saturday night when he stopped Yordenis Ugas in the 10th round before 39,946 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Showtime Pay-Per-View headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The Ring’s No. 2-ranked welterweight, Spence (28-0, 22 knockouts) unified the WBA, IBF and WBC titles.
The Texas southpaw made a successful comeback after a 17-month layoff and he did it with an irrepressible body attack, mixed with a steady diet of left uppercuts, which eventually led to Ugas’ right eye swelling shut and the fight being stopped at 1:44 of the 10th.
But the Spence victory did not come without some drama—some of which came organically, and some created by Cole’s meddlesome interference.
With 1:54 left in the sixth, Spence faced possibly the first real adversity of his pro career. After a quick exchange, Spence’s gumshield was knocked out by an Ugas right. Acting as if there was a timeout called, Spence walked over to retrieve the gumshield, when Ugas nailed him with a left then a right, sending Spence into the ropes.
Spence appeared to be in trouble. But with 1:32 left in the sixth, Cole interceded to stop the fight to get Spence’s gumshield. Spence recuperated to finish the sixth strong.
“I thought the ref said stop, so I stopped,” Spence said. “And then he hit me with three or four shots. That’s my fault. That was a rookie mistake. You’re supposed to protect yourself at all times and I didn’t do that. I wasn’t out on my feet. I turned and looked at my mouthpiece and he hit me.
“I believe that you’re going to go through trials and tribulations. I went through a lot of trials. I got tested and I passed the tests due to my upbringing. My mother and my father always telling me not to quit and not to give up and just believing in myself and my family. I wanted to prove them wrong and I knew that I could come back. Why would I quit now? I can come back and still be at my best. I just have to train hard, stay focused and listen to my coach.”
A rejuvenated Spence regained control of the fight in the seventh, going back to the left uppercut, which had Ugas backpedaling. Ugas’ right eye was in danger of swelling shut, and Spence knew it. He kept plowing Ugas with rights to the body, and left uppercuts.
By the eighth, Spence was on the move again, when Cole had to come in and warn him to keep his punches up. With 1:00 left in the round, Cole stopped Spence again, so Ugas could see the ringside doctor to check out his badly bruised right eye.
By then, it was swollen shut. It became a matter of time.
“I feel sad. I trained really hard for this fight,” Ugas said. “All my respect to Errol Spence. He’s a great champion. I’m just sad about what happened tonight. The referee stopped the fight, but I wanted to keep going to the end. I definitely had a chance to win the fight in the sixth round but he recuperated well. Congratulations to him and his team.”
A Spence left uppercut with 1:56 left in the 10th seemed to stun Ugas, who was fighting on instinct and character. Cole, again, and this time with merit, sent Ugas over to the ringside doctor who stopped it at 1:44 into the round.
“Everybody knows who I want next,” Spence said. “I want Terence Crawford next. That’s the fight that I want. That’s the fight everybody else wants. Like I said, I’m going to get these straps then go over there and take his too. Terence, I’m coming for that belt!”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.
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