By: Hans Themistode
Everything was going right according to plan, up until it wasn’t.
Trainer Derrick James had spent countless hours looking over the game tape. With unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., a fighter James has been training for several years now, preparing to take on future first-ballot Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, James wanted to ensure that his man came out on top with the victory.
Just as the two began putting the finishing touches on an arduous training camp, James couldn’t believe his ears as Spence Jr. revealed to him that he was unable to fight due to a torn/detached retina in his left eye.
Immediately taking the place of Spence Jr., is WBA titleholder, Yordenis Ugas. Although James was devastated for his fighter missing out on a career-high payday and the biggest fight of his life, the long-time trainer couldn’t help but smile for Ugas.
“I’m happy for Ugas,” said James during an interview with FightHype.com. “This is his opportunity to be great.”
Ugas, 35, felt contrite when he first heard the news. As a former sparring partner of Spence Jr., the Cuban native was thrilled with his fellow welterweight champion getting the chance of a lifetime.
After wishing Spence Jr. a speedy recovery, Ugas focused on the monumental task at hand. Currently, Ugas is pegged as a heavy underdog. Despite the overwhelming notion that Pacquiao will be too much, James isn’t quite convinced that things will be a walk in the park for the former eight-division world champion when the two clash this Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Having picked up wins in 11 of his past 12 contests, Ugas has successfully come into his own. His recent success, coupled with a long amateur career which consisted of 96 wins against just nine defeats, gives James all the more reason to heap high praise on the WBA titlist.
“Ugas is very tricky, very intelligent. He’s faced a lot of styles and he’s an Olympian. He’s a phenomenal fighter.”
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