By: Sean Crose
It’s a great matchup on paper – a very exciting, high profile pairing of two world titlists. And although this weekend’s Errol Spence-Yordenis Ugas showdown may not be as anticipated as a Spence-Terence Crawford dream match would be, it’s still an intriguing event (at least it is on paper) that’s worthy of the pre-fight hype. Aside from Crawford, Spence has been widely regarded as the top dog in the welterweight division for years now. Yet the recent past hasn’t been easy on the man. A car crash in 2019 almost killed him, then an eye injury took him out of last years megafight with Manny Pacquiao.
It was the same Ugas who Spence will be battling this weekend who went on to face Pacquiao in Spence’s place last August. The 34 year old Cuban fighter shocked a lot of people that night by besting Pacquiao convincingly and leaving the ring with the WBA belt the Filipino legend had entered the ring in possession of. It was a win that led to Saturday’s fight at AT&T Stadium…and the chance of further glory for the 27-4 veteran. Can Ugas defeat Spence, though? He indeed beat a past his prime Pacquiao – and also arguably should have been given the judges’ nod after his 2019 match with Shawn Porter.
Yet Spence is a fighter with a next level skill set. His last fight was a 2020 defeat of the talented Danny Garcia, indicating that the crash that almost cost Spence his life hadn’t diminished his ring ability. Spence is also strong – frighteningly so. His punches come across as being like powerful chops – with each heavy strike seeming to lead Spence closer and closer to a stoppage or an outright knockout win. Spence is, without doubt, one hell of a fighter. No man, however, is invincible, and – truth be told – Ugas has a few tricks of his own.
For starters, Ugas possesses an impressive jab that throws off lesser fighter’s timing and aggression. Ugas also has a supreme defense. Check out footage of his 2019 fight with Porter. Like Spence, Porter is (or, since he’s now retired, was) quite strong. Yet when he moved in on Ugas he’d often be unable to reach his man, Ugas masterfully timed Porter’s attack, and therefore stepped away from danger before the blows landed. If he’s able to do the same thing against Spence for the better half of twelve rounds, Ugas may very well win the fight.
Yet it’s hard to tell whether or not Ugas can keep Spence off him. Unlike Pacqiuao, Spence is roughly Ugas’s size. What’s more, when Spence lands – and, make no mistake about it, Spence will indeed land on Saturday – he does damage. It doesn’t always take much for a power puncher to break his man down. Will Ugas be able to effectively fight through those moments when Spence has his way, especially those moments when Spence is able to do terrible work to the body?
The outcome of the entire match may rely on the answer to that single question.
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