Ismael Salas recalled the first time he caught the eye of Yordenis Ugas.
Just three weeks after Ugas started training with Salas, he had a fight with Gabriel Rosado, one of boxing’s top action fighters. Up until that point six years ago, Salas had never seen Ugas, who was in the midst of an uneventful professional career. Ugas turned the first impression into one of the best wits Salas had ever seen.
“It was a title fight instead of a Rosado one,” Salas told ESPN.
Salas immediately knew what he had in Ugas. But for many years, the rest of the boxing world did not. And even after an upset victory that forced future Manny Pacquiao to retire, he still had to prove to everyone that he was one of the world’s greatest heavyweights. The 35-year-old Cuban was a significant underdog this weekend against Errol Spence Jr., one of boxing’s top boxers and unified welterweight champion.
Ugas is perfectly happy in this position. After all, it was one of those things that he knew well.
“People can say whatever they want to say because I’m used to people underestimating me in my life,” Ugas told ESPN through an interpreter. “It’s nothing new for me. So I really don’t care if I’m the favorite or the underdog. In the end, I have to prove that I can be a champion. enemy, winner in the ring.”
With a win over Spence on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at AT&T Stadium, just a few kilometers from Spence’s home in the Dallas area, Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) will unify the three in number four championship belts and played the final spoils in the 147-pound division.
For years, people considered Spence (27-0.21 KOs) and Terence “Bud” Crawford (38-0.29 KOs) as the two best heavyweights in the world. Talking about a potential fight between two undefeated fighters – one that has yet to happen – has been one of boxing’s biggest storylines. Ugas can enhance that whole story with a win.
If that happens, it will be just another example of Ugas taking his chance.
Last year, Spence was the one who was originally scheduled to take on Pacquiao, a battle that could turn Spence into an even bigger star among casual sports fans. Instead, Spence was forced to withdraw because of the detached retina he sustained during the match.
Eleven days before Ugas was scheduled to fight underweight Fabian Maidana, he was promoted to the main event to face off against one of the greatest boxers of all time. And Ugas and Salas were ready.
“A loser is someone who doesn’t like to take chances and take chances,” says Salas.
As for this weekend’s fight, Ugas is an even weaker underdog. As of Tuesday, Ugas was at +400 on Caesars Sportsbook, meaning bettors who placed $100 on Ugas to win would receive $400.
Even so, Ugas was still extremely confident in the opportunity to prove his bravery as an elite warrior. That belief stems from the fact that he worked with Salas in training camp.
“He brings to the game what he does in training and uses it very well,” said Felix Trinidad, a 2014 boxer at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. “He brings that preparation into the ring just like I did. That makes me believe in him, and I know he’ll do well.”
Salas, who has coached Ugas for the past 13 matches, believes Spence is the best weight class in the world. But that doesn’t mean they don’t believe they have a loophole for discomfort. Specifically, Salas believes they can use Spence’s aggression to their advantage. They also don’t know if Spence is still the same fighter he was before being injured in a fatal car crash in 2019.
The tenacity that Spence showed in his decision against Shawn Porter in 2019, who beat Ugas via split decision that same year, was not evident in Spence’s win over Danny Garcia in the same year. 2020.
Maybe it was rust, Salas said. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence.
“But he’s not that kind of person anymore,” Salas said.
Those comments could be seen as disparaging words from a camp that doesn’t engage in trash talk. But they can also be words from a trainer who believes he and his boxer are ready to show the skeptics a performance they weren’t ready for.
At the very least, it should be interesting. Ugas has never been known for dodging combat. And not one to back down from a challenge.
“He’s a total underdog,” Salas said. “But for Ugas, it doesn’t matter. He’s a guy, whatever comes in front of him, when the bell is rung, he’ll take care of it.”
https://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/33729901/used-people-underestimating-why-yordenis-ugas-ready-prove-people-wrong-again-vs-errol-spence-jr ‘I’m used to people underestimating me’ – Why is Yordenis Ugas more willing to prove people wrong again than Errol Spence Jr.