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Yordenis Ugas has options, Terence Crawford out of luck


By Chris Williams: Yordenis Ugas finds himself in the Catbird seat with the positive test for a banned substance by WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Alexander Besputin. #1 WBA Ugas (25-4, 12 KOs) is now in the position to fight for the WBA title once it’s stripped from Besputin by the World Boxing Association.

The number 1 ranking that Ugas possessed virtually assures him of getting a shot at the WBA title once it falls vacant.

The fight that Ugas potentially could have been offered to him by Top Rank against WBO 147-pound champion Terence Crawford is no longer necessary.

Ugas doesn’t need the fight with Crawford, considering he’s now in the position to take a bigger fight against the next available and willing contender in the WBA’s rankings.


Crawford no longer needed by Ugas

At this point, it’s unlikely that Ugas will bother fighting Crawford unless he’s offered a boatload of money, which probably won’t happen. Here’s the deal.

If Ugas captures the WBA regular welterweight title, he can use that belt to force a title shot between him and Manny Pacquiao. Having the WBA title gives Ugas the chance to get a massive payday against Pacquiao rather than a small one as an opponent for Crawford.

Top five in the WBA’s rankings are as follows:

  • Yordenis Ugas #1
  • Danny Garcia #2
  • Mikey Garcia #3
  • Gabriel Maestre #4
  • Jamal James #5

Former two-division world champion Danny Garcia has been named as the next opponent for IBF/WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr, and he’s not going to bother with fighting for the vacant WBA ‘regular’ title.

The next highest-ranked contender after Danny is #3 WBC Mikey Garcia, who still doesn’t have an opponent. Mikey has sounded like a broken record in the last six months, calling out WBA Super World 147-pound champion Manny Pacquiao many times, and it’s frankly off-putting how needy he’s acting.

Mikey’s neediness may have caused Pacquiao to sour on the idea of fighting him. If the thought ever went through the head of Pacquiao in facing Mikey, he’s probably changed his mind with the way that Garcia seems to desperate for the fight.

Ugas vs. Mikey Garcia possible

Mikey’s one-sided loss to Spence and his subsequent fight against the no longer relevant Jessie Vargas gives the impression that he’s just looking for a payday against Pacquiao without trying to earn the battle by beating quality fighters. It was a weak move on Mikey’s part to fight Jessie Vargas instead of one of the relevant contenders.


Mikey didn’t mention Ugas as someone that he would want to fight if he doesn’t get Pacquiao next. He wants to fight these guys: Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, or Danny Garcia. Unfortunately, Mikey is out of luck with Danny Garcia de to him fighting Spence. Thurman is still licking his battle wounds from his loss to Pacquiao last July, so he’s not going to fight Mikey.

As a result, that leaves only Porter and Ugas. Do you think Mikey would want to fight a guy like Porter? I don’t believe so Mikey would ever get within striking distance of Porter because that’s a bad match-up. Porter would have a good chance of knocking out Mikey and messing up his dreams of a Pacquiao fight.

The WBA could select Radzhab Butaev (12-1, 9 K.O.s) as the opponent for Yordenis Ugas to fight for the vacant WBA title. With Busputin testing positive for a banned substance after his fight with Butaev, that puts him in the position to challenge for the belt now possibly.

Butaev an option for Ugas

“Radzhab’s dream is to become a world champion and on a level playing field, there is no doubt that he can beat anybody in the division. The next step is to work through the procedures with the WBA and await Radzhab’s immediate fight with the top-rated contender for the WBA World Title,” said Butaev’s manager Vadim Kornilov.

Butaev is a good fighter, but he’s going to have a lot of problems trying to beat an opponent of Ugas’ caliber. That’s a bridge too far if you ask me.

The fact that Butaev lost to Besputin suggests that he would be out of his league in a fight against Ugas. Besputin is a decent fighter, but he’s not in the same league as Ugas talent-wise.

Crawford is the odd man out now that the pandemic has hit. His promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank talked a lot recently about him trying to get overseas investors to come up with the money to stage a Pacquiao-Crawford fight in the Middle East. But this week, Arum reportedly is admitting that it’s not happening.

He can’t stage a fight between Crawford and Pacquiao in the U.S. behind closed doors because the live gate won’t be there. Crawford also said he wouldn’t fight without a crowd unless he’s paid extra, and Top Rank probably isn’t going to be able to come up with the extra money that’s needed to keep him happy.

Where does Crawford go?

If Ugas doesn’t fight Crawford, then narrows down his options considerably. Arum mentioned Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, and Shawn Porter as guys that he would like to match against Crawford. Porter and Thurman won’t take that fight without a live crowd.


Brook is from the U.K., and with the travel ban in place, how is Arum going to get him to the U.S.? Additionally, what about the extended quarantine that Brook would need to deal with if he came over to the States.

What we’ll likely see is Crawford defending his WBO title against #2 WBO contender Sergey Lipinets next. That’s a doable fight for Top rank because Lipinets lives in the U.S., and he would be someone that would be easy to negotiate with to put the fight together.

WBO junior middleweight champion Patrick Teixeira offered to give Crawford a title shot if he moves up to 154, but that’s a fight that can’t happen soon. Teixeira lives in Brazil, and that country is now the epicenter of the pandemic. Getting Teixeira into the U.S. for a fight against Crawford could take many months, and we’re not even sure Terence would be interested in facing him.

Crawford hasn’t fought since last December, and it’s more and more like the entire year in 2020 is a lost one for him. Unless Arum can work his magic to put together a fight for Crawford before the end of the year, it looks like he won’t see action until 2021.


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