Derrick James: “I’m Happy For [Yordenis] Ugas, This Is His Opportunity To Be Great, He’s A Phenomenal Fighter”
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.”
Jermall Charlo Not Convinced Brian Castano Is The Best Fighter Jermell Charlo Has Ever Fought: “Tony Harrison Would Beat Him”
By: Hans Themistode
Most of the boxing world stood in awe of Brian Castano. Just last weekend, the current WBO 154 pound titlist took on unified champion Jermell Charlo at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Heading in, most observers gave Charlo the edge. While their contest would ultimately end in a split decision draw, there were plenty of onlookers who believed Castano (17-0-2, 12 KOs) did more than enough to pick up the win.
Although Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) has racked up several high-quality wins over the course of his career, in the mind of many, Castano is a step above the rest of the competition he’s faced. For those who believe that’s the case, however, they’ll be immediately met with fulmination from current WBC middleweight titlist, and twin brother of Jermell in Jermall Charlo. Not only is he not convinced Castano is the best fighter his brother has ever fought but in fact, he believes he knows someone in the division who could defeat him.
“He threw a lot of punches,” said Jermall to a group of reporters following his brother’s split decision draw. “If you watch boxing you know. Tony Harrison would beat him.”
In back-to-back fights in 2018 and 2019, both Harrison and Charlo split a pair of meetings. Their first contest came in December of 2018. Despite being the heavy favorite, Charlo had significant trouble avoiding the jab of Harrison. That, in turn, resulted in the first defeat of his career, albeit controversial.
The two would do things again one year later but with vastly different end results. Charlo would score the stoppage win in the 11th after registering three knockdowns throughout the fight. Still, regardless of the explosive ending, Harrison was very much in the fight. At the time of stoppage, judge Tim Cheatham had it 95-94 in favor of Harrison. On the other hand, both David Southerland and Lou Mouret had it 96-93 in favor of Charlo.
With two close fights in the book between them, Jermall isn’t the only one who believes Harrison is a better fighter than Castano.
“I don’t think he was the best fighter he ever fought,” said Derrick James, trainer of Jermell. “He only had his way when Jermell stayed in one spot on the ropes. Other than that, he didn’t do anything. He’s not the best fighter he ever fought. I think Tony Harrison was probably better than him.”
Derrick James Believes Errol Spence Jr.’s Stellar Performance May Have Chased Manny Pacquiao Away: “When He Saw How Good Errol Looked, I Think He Changed His Mind”
By: Hans Themistode
Everything seemed all lined up for Errol Spence Jr.
Coming into his showdown against Mikey Garcia in March of 2019, the Dallas native had a surprising but welcoming guest sit ringside in Manny Pacquiao. On the night, Spence Jr. dominated Garcia, winning every single round.
The powerful southpaw’s eye-catching performance seemed to be just what he needed to prove to the future first-ballot Hall of Famer that he was a worthy opponent. However, according to trainer Derrick James, Spence Jr.’s lights out showing may have actually pushed Pacquiao away from taking the fight all together.
“Manny came to Dallas when Errol fought Mikey and he said he wanted to fight the winner,” said James during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “When he saw how good Errol looked, I think he changed his mind.”
Instead of taking on Spence Jr. (27-0, 21 KOs) as many assumed, Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) alternatively chose to take on then, WBA titlist Keith Thurman. Pacquiao would go on to drop the aforementioned Thurman before ultimately winning a close decision.
Since then, the Filipino native has been sitting idly on the sidelines. The reasoning behind his lack of ring appearances is mostly due to COVID-19 and the restrictions it places on live crowds from entering boxing events.
Pacquiao’s stretch of inactivity has recently led to the WBA stripping him of his world title and elevating then “Regular” champion Yordenis Ugas to “Super” champion status, while Pacquiao has been relegated to “Champion in Recess,” meaning, if and when Pacquiao does return to the ring, he would be given the first shot at Ugas to regain his world title.
However, Spence Jr. is currently in the midst of relieving Ugas of his newly won crown. On the Dallas native’s Twitter account, he seemed to indicate that since Ugas is in possession of the full title, he would love to unify against the Cuban native.
Pacquiao though, doesn’t appear to be in any rush to regain his championship status at 147-pounds. Several sources close to the situation have linked the 42-year-old multiple division titlist to lightweight star Ryan Garcia as a possible exhibition bout between the pair could be on the brink of becoming a reality.
While James would love it if his fighter was given the opportunity to face Pacquiao, he’s unsure when, or if, it will ever happen.
“I don’t know. I think he’s in the business to unify the belts so you never know.”
Derrick James Rips Terence Crawford’s Resume: “On The Pound For Pound List He Has The Weakest Resume, They’re Matching Him Like A Prospect Still”
By: Hans Themistode
Derrick James, trainer of unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., isn’t amongst those heaping praise on Terence Crawford for his latest performance. The WBO welterweight belt holder made it look easy in his fourth round stoppage win against former titlist Kell Brook last weekend.
Crawford, 33, struggled with Brook in the first two rounds before dropping and pounding him out shortly after. Following the win, Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) received loads of praise for his handiwork. Yet for James, although Brook was a former champion, he wasn’t the same.
“I watched the fight,” said James on Fight Hub TV. “But to be honest, I don’t know how to take it. Kell looked pretty decent but he was kind of shot and going in, they had to know that.”
Before James considered Brook a broken fighter, his champion in Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KOs) fought the best version of him in 2017. Up until that point, it was by far the toughest challenge of Spence Jr.’s career but one that he passed with flying colors as he picked up the IBF title via 11th round stoppage.
The win by Crawford three years later isn’t viewed as impressive in the eyes of James. But even with the addition of Brook to Crawford’s ledger, it doesn’t compare much to whom Spence Jr. will be facing on December 5th.
“Even when you add Kell Brook to his resume, it still doesn’t add to what Danny Garcia has done. Danny Garcia has the deepest resume other than Manny Pacquiao and this is in boxing period.”
For James, resume and who you fight, along with when you fight them, is important. Because of that, he doesn’t believe that Crawford deserves to be considered the best fighter in the world, a distinction that has become the consensus in boxing circles.
“On the pound for pound list, he has the weakest resume. All of these other guys are fighting champions and they’re matching him like a prospect still.”
As of late, Crawford has received a ton of flak for the names plastered across his record. James struggles to remember any of the opponents that Crawford has fought during the course of his career. To the highly touted trainer, most of those names are unrecognizable.
“It’s apples and oranges. One guy has proven himself, the other guy tells you who his opponents are. With the Russian kid, Postol, we didn’t know who he was. They told us who he was. Then he fought the other guy after that, Indongo, we had no idea who he was. We still don’t know who he is.”