Errol Spence Jr. has done what he had to do, defeating Yordenis Ugas via 10th-round TKO on Sunday afternoon.
Now comes the wait for the fight that the entire boxing world has longed for for years.
By raising his hands on Sunday, Spence Jr’s is now the holder of the WBA welterweight world title along with his WBC and IBF championships.
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The only missing piece? Terence Crawford’s WBO title. And now the two undefeated American welterweights seem destined to finally meet in the ring.
“That’s the fight I want. That’s the fight everyone wants,” Spence Jr said after the fight.
“Terence, I’m going for that damn belt.”
“Everyone knows who I want next. I want Terrence Crawford next. I’m going to take the shit from him too.”
Finally, bringing the two together will also be much easier now that Crawford has left promoter Bob Arum.
It will be Spence Jr’s biggest test yet, but the 32-year-old already had a lot to prove on Sunday, fighting for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a detached retina he suffered in training.
“When people say I can’t do this or I can’t do that, I always prove them wrong,” Spence Jr said before the fight.
“I am the same guy I was before the accident and the injury. I feel like I’m better than that guy who fought Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia.”
And that’s not to mention the horrific car accident that saw Spence Jr hospitalized for days and sidelined for months, again leaving many questioning whether he would ever return to the top.
But now Spence Jr is here, with another belt around his waist, proving he’s the same guy.
“It’s as good as before the car accident, before the retinal detachment, he showed us he was exactly the same caliber,” Al Bernstein said in a comment.
“I thought this performance was better than Garcia’s. He did everything right.”
Spence finished the fight shooting 216-of-784 compared to just 96-of-541 for Ugas.
Both fighters were patient from the start, with Spence Jr working to set up the jab while Ugas kept his guard up, limiting opportunities for his younger rival to land anything meaningful.
Ugas was more precise with his punches, but Spence continued to increase his activity, leaving Bernstein wondering if the 35-year-old Cuban was doing enough.
“One of the questions for Ugas…it’s been very cheap, but can you win the rounds by being that cheap with your punches?” Bernstein asked.
Ugas answered that question late in the third round, connecting with a counter right hand and then following up with a three-punch combination before finishing with a right hand.
However, rounds four and five were dominated by Spence who became much more aggressive and while Ugas was able to recover on occasion, he was really starting to lose the fight at that point.
“The lack of a jab for Ugas is a big problem right now,” Bernstein said.
“On the inside, Errol Spence has been just excellent, throwing a variety of punches (the uppercut, the right hook) and working the body effectively.
“When Ugas lets his hands go, he can hit some shots… he just hasn’t been letting his hands go long enough. Spence has thrown over 100 more punches.”
But Ugas unexpectedly came alive early in the sixth, with two punches that sent Spence Jr to the ropes after his mouthpiece was knocked out, giving him extra time to recover.
“A momentary lapse in judgment,” said Mauro Ranallo in a comment.
“The ropes might as well have saved him. Ugas drama and the first time we’ve had that kind of adversity since Spence in a long time.”
Replays showed a right uppercut that hit Spence Jr’s mouth guard and as he looked at the referee, Ugas hit with a vicious right hand to make the most of it.
However, Spence Jr was able to respond in epic fashion in the seventh, causing serious damage to Ugas’s right eye and finishing the round with 39 shots.
“He’s shooting practice right now for Spence,” Ranallo said.
The fight was then stopped when the ring doctor examined Ugas’s right eye, which was closed, ultimately deciding to continue the fight to go into the eighth.
Spence Jr. continued to maintain complete control of the fight as it entered the tenth, leaving Ugas in a desperate position, needing to find something important to turn the fight in his direction.
He couldn’t find that, and the fight was finally stopped in the tenth round when Spence Jr was crowned the winner.
FULL CARD RESULTS
Errol Spence Jr. (c) right. Yordenis Ugas (c) via 10th-round TKO—welterweight unification
Isaac Cruz right Yuriokis Gamboa via fifth-round TKO — lightweight
Jose Valenzuela right. Francisco Vargas by KO in the first round — lightweight
Cody Crowley defeated. Josesito López by unanimous decision (98-91, 98-91, 99-90) — welterweight
Eimantas Stanionis def. Radzhab Butaev via split decision (113-114, 116-111, 117-110) – welterweight
Brandun Lee def. Zachary Ochoa by unanimous decision (98-92, 99-91, 99-91) — super lightweight
‘THUNDERSTORMS’ STUNS IN THE FIRST ROUND
Undefeated Jose Valenzuela promised that Sunday would mark the day he would make the leap from boxing prospect to true contender and eventual world champion.
And if his first-round knockout of former WBC junior lightweight title holder Francisco Vargas is anything to write off, Valenzuela is on his way.
The 22-year-old has won all five of his fights in 2021, including four by knockout, and once again scored the knockout on Sunday to improve his record to 12-0.
It was a left cross that did all the damage to Valenzuela, who had initially missed a jab because he got around Vargas’ guard and landed the final blow.
“Big win for Jose,” Brian Custer said on Showtime’s coverage of the fight.
“This is a young man who said, ‘I want to look great and put my name on the map in this division,’ and he did it with a bang. Good win for this youngster as he gets the win.”
Valenzuela was unsure at first that he had scored the decisive knockout, waiting for Vargas to recover before realizing his opponent was in deep trouble.
“I expected him to show up, throw a lot of punches, move forward aggressively,” Valenzuela said. Showtime’s Jim Gray after the fight.
“But, you know, I stayed patient and was using my jab and going to the body, and I waited for an opening.
“I expected him to get up, but I looked back again and he was still depressed. It was a good hit.”
As for his plans after another resounding victory, Valenzuela was relatively reliant on not aiming too high and keeping things simple.
“Just keep fighting good fighters, like him, a tough fighter,” Valenzuela said.
“Whatever they have planned, I am willing to do it.”
REF STEPS AFTER BRUTAL HIT TO CROSS
Elsewhere, Isaac Cruz made the statement he was hoping for when the referee was forced to step in and stop his fight with Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Cruz made an immediate impact in the ring, hurting Gamboa with a big uppercut and was in trouble again later in the round after a big right hand.
The punches kept coming for Gamboa, who was dropped by Cruz early in the third and again in the fourth with a big left hook.
It was unbelievable that Gamboa held on for so long before the referee intervened after a two-punch combination from Cruz in the fifth sent his opponent into the ropes.