Ismael Salas, Trainer Of Yordenis Ugas, Believes Errol Spence Jr. Is Not The Same Fighter: “Something Missing”
By: Hans Themistode
Like many in the boxing world, Ismael Salas grabbed a seat near his television set, reclined comfortably, and watched carefully as Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia traded blows in the center of the ring in December of 2020.
Roughly one year prior, it seemed incredibly unlikely that the Dallas native would survive his horrific car wreck, let alone box again. In September of 2019, Spence Jr. successfully truncated the world title reign of Shawn Porter, winning his WBC title in Los Angeles, California’s Staples Center.
Although the newly turned 32-year-old was ecstatic over the win, he was violently knocked off his high horse as he was flung from his sports vehicle in October of 2019, during a mind-numbing crash.
Despite the jaw-dropping videos that were released, Spence Jr. suffered only facial abrasions, along with a few broken teeth, and minimal injuries. In total, Spence Jr. would spend just over a year in the recovery room before taking on Garcia, a former two-division world titlist.
With the anticipation at its highest, Salas watched every second of every round meticulously. Though Spence Jr. would go on to win a wide decision on the night, Salas placed his hand on his chin as he began pondering what he just witnessed. After diving into Spence Jr.’s performance even further, Salas believes that he is no longer the same ferocious fighter that he once was. Even now, almost a year and a half later, Salas is unable to pinpoint the missing ingredient in the unified welterweight champions game.
“In my personal view, that’s nothing to take away from him but he was not the same guy who fought with Shawn Porter to the same guy who fought with Danny Garcia,” explained Salas to a group of reporters. “Something missing. He was missing something there. For the reason? I don’t know. Maybe the fire, maybe it can be the weight. Many reasons.”
The disappointment on the face of Salas was immediately wiped away as he re-focused his attention on WBA champion, Yordenis Ugas. With the pair set to square off on April 16th, at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, Salas works diligently with Ugas as they’ll attempt to strip Spence Jr. of his championship status.
Ugas, of course, rose to prominence following his unlikely win against Manny Pacquiao in August of 2021. Ironically enough, Ugas was given the call once Spence Jr. was forced to withdraw due to a detached retina that subsequently led to surgery.
While Salas believes that Ugas will be successful in his bid to become a unified champion, when asked if he believes Spence Jr. will be his old self come fight night, Salas responds despondently.
“We hope so, we hope so.”
Ismael Salas, Trainer Of Yordenis Ugas, Rips Spence’s Amateur Background: “Did Spence Go To The Olympics? Yes, What He Did? Nothing”
By: Hans Themistode
Errol Spence Jr. has made the long, lonely trek to the ring a total of 27 times as a professional. Once he walks through the raucous crowd and prior to the Dallas native swapping fists with his opponents, he waits patiently as his credentials are introduced by the ring announcer.
Normally, even before said announcer acknowledges Spence Jr. as a unified world champion, his 2012 Olympic achievements will be named first. Although the newly turned 32-year-old failed to medal during the summer games, making an Olympic roster is a rare feat.
Be that as it may, Ismael Salas, head trainer of Yordenis Ugas, isn’t impressed with Spence Jr.’s amateur accomplishments. As Salas continues to prepare Ugas for his upcoming unification clash against Spence Jr. on April 16th at AT&T Stadium, he believes the accentuation of the unified champion’s amateur background should come to an end, especially when juxtaposed with the accomplishments of Ugas.
“Did Spence go to the Olympics? Yes,” said Salas to a group of reporters. “What he did? Nothing. Ugas went to the Olympics? Yes. What did Ugas do? Bronze medal. Ugas was Pan American Game Champion, Amateur world champion. Was Spence? No.”
In totality, Salas is only partially correct. While he’s accurate in saying that Ugas was a Pan American champion and won an Olympic bronze medal, doing so in the 2008 games, the amateur credentials of Spence Jr. are being slightly downplayed. Altogether, Spence Jr. was a three-time U.S. National Champion. He was also a Golden Glove winner in 2009.
In addition to his amateur success, Spence Jr. also received a late start in the sport of boxing. Officially, the current pound-for-pound star picked up his first pair of gloves at the age of 15. Ugas, on the other hand, began his boxing journey at the age of six.
Still, despite the age discrepancy, both Ugas and Spence Jr. have nearly identical amateur records. Ugas wrapped up his time in the unpaid ranks with a record of 122-12, while Spence Jr.’s time as an amateur came to an end after amassing a record of 135-12.
Ultimately, Salas isn’t depending on what Ugas accomplished in his younger days to pick up the victory come April 16th. Having fought and defeated some of the best fighters that the welterweight division has to offer, including the likes of Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Kell Brook – Salas admits that the amateur career of Ugas will be of little importance come fight night.
“This guy is solid,” said Salas of Spence Jr. “There’s nothing to take away from him. Professional and amateur is not the same.”