Yordenis Ugas earned the biggest win of his boxing career after outworking Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to retain his World Boxing Association super welterweight belt.
Ugas utilized his size and dominated the older Pacquiao from start to finish, earning the nod of all three judges with scores of 115-113, 116-112, 116-112.
Here are some fast facts about the Cuban champion:
Before turning pro, Ugas enjoyed a stellar amateur career that includes a win over American boxing star Terence Crawford.
As a lightweight, Ugas won multiple gold medals in the 2003 World Cadet Championship, 2005 World Championship, 2006 World Cup, and 2007 Pan American Games.
His amateur career reached its peak in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he snagged a bronze medal in the lightweight division.
The 35-year-old then pursued a professional career in 2010 and won all of his first 11 bouts.
Tough road to success
Ugas may have gone a different path had he not decided to defect from Cuba to launch his professional career.
Following his bronze-medal win in Beijing, Ugas successfully escaped Cuba in 2010 after six failed attempts and multiple imprisonment.
This was probably the reason why the United States’ Star-Spangled Banner played in his fight against Pacquiao instead of the Cuban national anthem.
Still, Ugas continued to honor his Cuban roots by wearing a shirt with a Cuban flag in his post-fight interview.
“For the country and for life,” Ugas said through a translator.
Life and career
After defecting from Cuba through Mexico, Ugas found his way to Miami, where he currently resides with his fiancée Dayanara Leon.
Ugas is a proud father to a son who has autism.
“Being the father of an autistic child has been difficult, but at the same time it has made me a better man and see the world a little differently,” Ugas wrote on Instagram.
Inside the ring, Ugas also impressed, compiling a notable 27-4 (12 knockouts) record as he won 12 of his previous 13 bouts, with his last defeat coming in a split decision verdict against former welterweight champion Shawn Porter.
Ugas trains under compatriot Ismael Salas, who has worked with the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux and Kazuto Ioka.
Ugas found himself pitted against the only eight-division world champion of the sport as a replacement foe for unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr, who pulled out of his fight against Pacquiao due to an eye injury.
Spence learned he sustained a torn retina in his left eye following a prefight medical examination by the Nevada State Athletic Commission less than two weeks before the bout.
This prompted Premier Boxing Champions to replace Spence with Ugas, whose foe also suffered an eye injury.
Ugas was supposed to defend his WBA belt against Argentine Fabian Maidana in the undercard of the Pacquiao-Spence duel but he was upgraded to the main event to face the Filipino icon.
In the run-up to the fight, Pacquiao made it clear he wanted to get back the WBA super welterweight belt he once owned after the association stripped it off him due to inactivity.
The WBA rewarded the super title to Ugas, the former regular champion.
Although an underdog, the 5-foot-9 Cuban proved he was worthy to be in the same ring as the boxing legend as he peppered Pacquiao with solid jabs and heavy overhand punches.
Ugas also displayed stifling defense, with Pacquiao landing only a measly 16% of his 815 punches thrown.
“Everybody said that [Pacquiao] was the champion. Now they know who the real champion is,” Ugas said through a translator. – Rappler.com