Saturday, December 02, 2023  |


Yordenis Ugas says Mario Barrios stands between him and goal of becoming two-time champ

Photo by Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

After 17 months out of the ring, Yordenis Ugas is jumping right back into the title picture this Saturday.

Ugas (27-5, 12 knockouts) will face Mario Barrios for the WBC interim welterweight title on the Canelo Alvarez-Jermell Charlo pay-per-view card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The winner is next in line for one of the belts held by undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford, but the 37-year-old ex-champ says he has tunnel vision on the task ahead of him.

As everyone knows I’ve been fighting with the best of the best for the past two years so [fighting for another championship] obviously motivates me. But right now we’re only focusing on Mario Barrios,” Ugas, who lives in Las Vegas, where he trains with Ismael Salas, told The Ring.

The fight is a crossroads meeting between two fighters on the comeback trail. Ugas, who solidified his WBA titleholder status by sending Manny Pacquiao into retirement in 2021, is coming off a tenth-round stoppage loss to Errol Spence Jr. in April of 2022 in a unification bout.

Barrios, 28, of San Antonio, Tex. stopped Jovanie Santiago in his last outing in February to end a two-fight losing streak to Gervonta Davis and Keith Thurman.

“He’s a warrior. We know the Mexican boxers are always warriors,” Ugas added.

Ugas underlined the stakes involved at Thursday’s undercard press conference, stating “I’ve spent my entire career coming back from adversity over and over again. If you want to see what I still have left, you’ll have to watch Saturday night. It will all be revealed.”

Though DraftKings lists Ugas as a solid -260 betting favorite, Edgar “Butch” Sanchez, a former Ugas trainer who remains close with the Cuban fighter, says the fight is a real test for Ugas. He notes that Barrios, though moving up in weight, is physically larger than Ugas with a strong body attack, but says he expects Ugas to take over late because of Barrios’ tendency to fade down the stretch.

Barrios dismissed concerns about him being undersized at 147 pounds.

“I have a tall frame, so getting down to 140 pounds was becoming very difficult.  The welterweight division is where I’m going to be able to accomplish the most, and I’m just excited for these next few years,” said Barrios at Wednesday’s media workout.

Ugas says the time out of the ring was a much-needed “reset” after a hard schedule in recent years. Now he sees this fight as the next step in completing the legacy he wants to cement in the ring.

“It’s very important, I already was a WBA champion and being a two-time champion is part of the legacy. This Saturday we start my legacy of being a two-time world champion,” said Ugas.