Shawn Porter decisions Yordenis Ugas in close fight
By Jeff Aranow: WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) had more problems than expected i laboring to a 12 round split decision win over 32-year-old Cuban talent Yordenis Ugas (23-4, 11 KOs) last Saturday night on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX & FOX Deportes from the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The scores were 116-112, 115-113 for Porter, and 117-111 for Ugas. Boxing News 24 scored it it a draw at 114-114. With the right game plan, Porter might have done better, but he decided to box for 12 rounds, which is totally out of character to how he normally fights.
Ugas landed the cleaner, harder shots throughout the fight despite not being known for his punching power. With a 41% KO percentage, Ugas wasn’t supposed to have more power on his shots than Porter, but that turned out to be the case. Porter’s lack of power could have been due to the problems he had trying to make weight for the fight. He gave up a lot of muscle to get down to 147. Having to lose a lot of water weight the day before the fight after coming in over the limit at the weigh-in obviously didn’t help Porter.
Ugas was hitting Porter a lot with jabs when he stood at range. Porter seemed hesitant to attack Ugas, as he was getting hit with shots on the way each time. Ugas’ long reach and his pinpoint accuracy on his punches made it difficult for Porter to get to him without getting nailed with judge-pleasing shots. The head movement that Porter used when attacking Ugas was easy for the Cuban to figure out. He seemed to know exactly where Porter’s head was at all times no matter how much he moved, and he was connecting without any problems. Porter failed to work his way inside and stay there like he’d done in the past in his fights. Ugas was trying to motivate Porter to engage with him by waving his arms to get him to come forward to punch, but he wasn’t willing to do it. Porter was more comfortable with landing pot shots, and staying on the outside to keep from getting carved up.
The combination of Ugas’ size, technical ability and Porter choosing to box rather than to fight on the inside as he normally does made this fight a lot closer than it probably would have been. Porter deviated from his normal style of fighting, and appeared to adopt a Mayweather-esque style, which didn’t suit him at all. Porter spent most of the fight trying to out-trick Ugas, who had him figured out from the get go, and was having his way much of the time. The shorter 5’7″ Porter had success when he would take the fight to the inside to land his shots, and stay there for a little. But he kept going back to the outside, staying out there and doing very little. Porter might have been trying to conserve precious energy, as he had drained himself to make weight last Friday after coming in overweight by almost two pounds. He might not have had the energy to fight with his normal attacking style that he’s used his entire career.
You can argue that Porter, 31, fought the wrong fight or perhaps he was weight drained slightly, and that contributed to his problems inside the ring with the 5’9″ Ugas. It could also be that Porter is starting to age from the wear and tear of his brawling style. He took a lot of heavy shots n his previous fight against Danny Garcia last September.
“There’s no doubt about it, I was robbed tonight,” said Ugas. “After the first round I figured him out and dominated the fight. He had no answer when I was pushing him back. I dominated the fight in my opinion.”
Ugas did seem to get the better of Porter, but the fight was too lose to call it a robbery. It could have gone either way. A draw would have been fine. Ugas failed to realize that in order to beat the champion, you’ve got to do a lot more than what he showed tonight in order to get the win.
The movement that Porter was using was just wasting time with him doing nothing, and neither guy being able to land. The fight was very boring when Porter was moving, and it wasn’t the same guy that boxing fans had seen his entire career. The blueprint in how to beat Ugas was created years ago when he was beaten by Amir Imam and Emanuel Robles, who both pressured him. Thomas Dulorme had great success in getting the better of Ugas as well in their fight in 2017, but he wasn’t given a decision due to him being penalized twice for low blows. Ugas appeared to lose that fight, but he was given a 10 round decision win. Porter could have made his job much easier if he’ gone after Ugas and made him work in close like he’d done against Paulie Malignaggi and Andre Berto.
“I showed tonight that I belong with the elite fighters at welterweight,” said Ugas. “All I can say is that I’m ready to fight any of the top names in the division. I’ll be back.”
Ugas didn’t prove that he can exist with the true elite level fighters tonight in IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford, but he did show that he could be competitive and fight a weight drained Porter to a standstill. Again, we don’t know whether Porter fought this way by design or if this was a product of him needing to use this game plan due to him struggling to make weight. Porter’s days at welterweight as a top fighter are numbered. Even if Porter somehow is able to remain at 147 for the remainder of his career, he’s likely going to be too weak from having to make weight for him to be effective againt the better fighters like Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao and Spence. There’s no point in adding Terence Crawford to that list of fighters, as he’s with Top Rank Boxing promotions, and it’s not too likely that he’ll cross the pond to face Porter anytime too soon if ever.
Porter used his jab when trying to go on the attack, but he was still getting hit a lot by Ugas. Yordenis had success hitting Porter with shots to the midsection when he would come in range. That helped Ugas’ accuracy with his shots. It didn’t matter how much head movement Porter used. He couldn’t keep from getting hit with Ugas’ body shots. When Porter did come inside, he would throw shoeshine shots with very little power on them. Porter was smothering his work when in close, and he lacked the power that he needed for him to dominate the action. Ugas would land a nice shot while Porter was coming inside. Once in close, Porter’s power wasn’t there. This clearly wasn’t the same Porter we’d seen in his fights with Andre Berto, Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi. Porter wasn’t able to mug Ugas the way he had those fighters.
Both guys stood and slugged for a brief spell in the fifth round, which was easily the best round of the fight. Porter appeared to empty his tank in that round in expending a great deal of energy throwing bombs. Ugas’ conditioning looked a lot better as the round ended. One could sense that Ugas could fight this way the entire fight without gassing, as long as he didn’t get hit with anything big. He didn’t have to worry about that though, because Porter’s punching power wasn’t there tonight. If Ugas had been fighting someone like Errol Spence, then it would have been a different story. The Cuban wouldn’t have been able to stand and fight with Spence for long without getting taken out with body or head shots. Spence would do very well against Ugas if the two of them ever fought.
“We wanted to out box him and eventually turn it on and press him,” Porter said. “But my dad did not think that was the smartest way to win the fight. We fought this way for 12 rounds and no one has ever seen that from me before.”
If that was the game plan, it was a poor one, being that Porter didn’t have the stamina in the later rounds for him to take the fight to Ugas. The time to jump on Ugas would have been early on in the first six rounds. In the second half of the fight, Porter looked tired, and his shots had nothing on them.