On just 11 days’ notice, Yordenis Ugas pulled off one of the upsets of the year after beating Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision in Las Vegas to retain his WBA welterweight title, potentially sending the future Hall of Famer, 42, into retirement in the process.
The life-changing win marks an incredible turnaround for the Cuban and now the wily operator, who’d usually be avoided like the plague by many of the top fighters around him, finds himself in high-demand. Here are a few of the men he could face next.
Errol Spence Jr
Ugas stepped in for Errol Spence Jr to fight Pacquiao in the first place. If the American makes a full recovery from the retina injury that brought his showdown with Pacquiao to a grinding halt, and that’s still a big if, a fight with Ugas would likely be the most logical to make.
On paper, it’s a decent clash too. Spence would be a heavy betting favourite but there's no question the wily Ugas will give him a tough assessment.
Shawn Porter and Ugas met in 2019 with the American picking up a disputed split decision victory and you’d imagine the latter would be chomping at the bit to gain revenge.
At the moment Porter is currently under orders to face Terence Crawford, with the potential bout having recently gone to purse bids, but this is boxing and it’s a sport that doesn’t always go to plan. If there should be any snags in the negotiations, Ugas will likely be waiting in the wings for a stab at vengeance.
Which moves us on to the aforementioned Crawford. ‘Bud’ is easily one of the best pugilists currently plying their trade but the Nebraskan has been plagued by inactivity. A unification between WBA holder Ugas and WBO holder Crawford would have decent appeal but sadly this one doesn’t seem likely for now with Crawford already set to face Porter.
Crawford also fights under Top Rank, while Ugas is a part of the PBC banner, meaning that even if Porter vs Crawford talks should fall through, boxing politics might prevent this one from happening.
Keith Thurman, who hasn’t fought since his 2019 loss to Pacquiao, is back in training and just happened to be part of the FOX broadcasting team covering Ugas’ fight this weekend. The American will be desperate to bounce back from his spell of inactivity with a win and will likely have left Las Vegas on Saturday night with some thoughts on his return and a potential showdown with Ugas.
Eimantas Stanionis is the WBA’s current No.1 contender and also a fellow PBC fighter, meaning that should Spence, Porter, Crawford et al. be unavailable, it would be an easy fight to make. Similarly, Jamal James, another PBC fighter, and holder of the WBA’s ‘regular’ belt will be a name in the mix. James was beaten by Ugas back in 2016.