By: Hans Themistode
The proliferation of WBA world titles could be coming to an end. At least, in the welterweight division.
With both Yordenis Ugas and Jamal James holding two versions of the WBA trinket, the pair will take part in a four-man tournament to determine one true titleholder.
Ugas, the WBA “Super” champion, has now been ordered to face rising star Eimantas Stanionis in the next 120 days. On the other side of the welterweight bracket, James, the WBA “Regular” champion, will take on Radzhab Butaev. Whomever comes out on top in those respective matchups, will face off sometime in March of 2022.
“The championship committee call(s for a) Box-Off as necessary for WBA Welterweight division in order to have one champion,” said Carlos Chavez, chairman of WBA Championship Committee. “Based on the hierarchy of WBA rankings the eligible boxers are: Yordenis Ugas, Jamal James, Radzhab Butaev and Eimantas Stanionis.
“In accordance to the previous resolution, Jamal James shall box official contender in Radzhab Butaev by November 2021. Yordenis Ugas must defend the title against the next leading available contender Eimantas Stanionis within 120 days from the date of this resolution. The Super Champion must box the regular champion by the end of March 2022.”
For the 27-year-old Stanionis, news of fighting for his first world title must come as somewhat of a surprise. While the Lithuanian has been impressive during his brief career, his most recent ring appearance didn’t go according to plan. In early August, Stanionis (13-0, 9 KOs) attempted to deliver a statement in his showdown against former 147-pound titlist, Luis Collazo. Although he appeared to be in control throughout, their bout was ruled a no-contest due to a clash of heads which left Collazo unable to continue.
Ugas, on the other hand, is still riding high after putting together a career-best performance.
After being pegged as a significant underdog against Manny Pacquiao on August 21st, Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) made the betting public look foolish as he pulled off the upset win. Originally, Ugas had been hoping that his reward for defeating the future first-ballot Hall of Famer would be a showdown against unified 147-pound titlist, Errol Spence Jr.
While a matchup between Stanionis and Ugas represents the more sexier contest, James vs. Butaev figures to be a competitive bout. Since picking up the lone defeat of his career, ironically enough against Ugas, James (27-1, 12 KOs) has gone undefeated over the past five years, reeling off seven straight wins.
In the case of the 27-year-old Butaev (13-0, 10 KOs), a showdown against James serves as a significant step up in competition. The Russian native KO’d fringe contender Terry Chatwood in his most recent ring appearance in December of 2020.
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