PBC on Fox — Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas: Fight prediction, card, start time, odds, live stream

Often referred to as boxing’s “money division” throughout the aftermath of the heavyweight division’s decline over the last two decades, there is never a shortage of attractive fights to make at 147 pounds. 

This calendar year is no different, particularly to the big-name welterweight fighters who compete under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) brand. Shawn Porter is well aware of what those future options might be, which makes Saturday’s title defense against the dangerous Yordenis Ugas not just a must-win from the standpoint of keeping his WBC belt, but to secure future paydays. 

“Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. or Manny Pacquiao; those are all big fights that people want to see,” Porter said. “If this fight goes the way we want it to go, those guys are the goal for the next fight.”

Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) begins his second reign as welterweight champion after brilliantly outpointing Danny Garcia in September to claim a vacant title. He also returns to the scene of the crime on Saturday where he once lost his IBF title to Kell Brook in 2014 when he faces Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California (formerly StubHub Center), in a primetime showcase on Fox (8 p.m. ET). 

“I’m looking forward to this fight going differently than last time I fought at this venue, against Kell Brook,” said Porter, who lost a decision to Brook. “I’m going to make sure it goes my way this time, but there’s no added pressure because of it. It’s total focus on getting this job done the best way that I can.

“We’re not going to look past Yordenis Ugas. We’re going to respect everything the man can bring in the ring. We’re going to send it right back at him, look to win this fight, and then after that, look to see who else is out there and willing to get in the ring with me.”

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With the exception of the March 16 pay-per-view bout between Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia, Porter-Ugas was widely considered the most interesting of the initial fights announced in PBC’s new multi-year deal with Fox. 

A native of Cuba, the 32-year-old Ugas has quietly evolved into one of the most interesting fighters in the division and rides an eight-fight win streak since a pair of 2014 defeats cast a shadow of doubt as to whether he would ever live up to his potential as a top amateur. Mixing pressure with technique, Ugas has found a perfect balance inside the ring and has become known for his propensity to land a number of awkward punches, including an uppercut he releases from distance. Yet should Saturday’s fight call for it, Ugas has no issue with standing up to Porter’s brawling and sometimes dirty style. 

“We are both clashing, come-forward fighters, so we are going to stand in the ring and see who is going to go backwards first,” Ugas said. “I’m expecting a very tough fight. Shawn is known for that. That’s how he became a world champion. But I’m a world-class fighter looking to become a champion, and I’m going to leave it all in the ring. I really don’t feel you’ve seen the best of Yordenis Ugas.”

The one mystery between the two is what may or may not have taken place during a 2017 sparring session in Las Vegas. Ugas claims it happened and has a picture on his phone to prove it. However, he prefers to leave the details of what exactly happened inside the gym. 

Porter, meanwhile, has openly questioned whether the sparring happened at all and, if it did, said all he can remember is that Ugas wasn’t on his level.  

“Shawn and I sparred a couple years ago, but I’m a way different fighter than I was then. You’re going to see an elite fighter on Saturday,” Ugas said. “I am taller than Shawn, but in the ring, there isn’t a big difference. If he prefers to fight taller fighters, I actually think that will be to my advantage. I’ll show you why on Saturday.”

Regardless of what took place between the two, the 31-year-old Porter believes his time is now and has predicted an early ending.  

“People want to see knockouts. That’s the best way to solidify a win,” Porter said. “We’ve seen things not go my way before on close scorecards. We’ve worked on adding some more power and we’ll see on Saturday if it all comes to fruition.

“We’re going to see on fight night what kind of differences you’ll see in my game. We worked on a lot of different things for me and to get ready for Ugas. I think power is really going to come into play. We really were able to focus on that. That might be something new that you see. If I get an early knockout, it’s not because Ugas can’t take a punch.”

Porter vs. Ugas main card, odds

Favorite Underdog Weight Class

Shawn Porter (c) -345

Yordenis Ugas +260

WBC welterweight title

Francisco Santana -149

Abel Ramos +125

Welterweight

Efe Ajagba -2000

Amir Mansour +800

Heavyweight

Prediction

The brilliance of Porter’s recent victory over Garcia was how beautifully he boxed and never needed to rely on his signature pressure style. The fight showcased just how much Porter has evolved as he exploited his opponent’s biggest weakness (lateral movement) and took very little punishment in doing so. 

That doesn’t mean the dog that’s inside of Porter isn’t still there. Expect to see a return to that style from Porter in this fight, especially in the early going as he looks to test Ugas’s chin and find out how well the Cuban adapts to the elite level against a relentless, pressure style. If Porter finds out fairly early that he can suffocate Ugas and never allow him to get into a comfortable rhythm as the fighter who is dictating pace and distance, he may never need to switch gears. While Ugas is very formidable as a sneaky counter puncher, he does his best work from distance and will need to discipline Porter with hard shots in order to prevent him from crowding. If Ugas is able to adjust and fight effectively on the inside, this could be a long night considering Porter’s aggression and athleticism. Even if he does, Porter proved against Garcia that he has enough quickness and footwork to give elite opponents trouble. 

This is Ugas’s opportunity to prove his prior defeats are behind him and that he’s aggressive enough to time his attacks when needed. Breaking the mold of the stereotypical Cuban fighter who doesn’t throw enough punches will be the key. If Ugas never takes the lead in this two-way dance, he could find himself on the wrong end of the scorecards simply due to activity levels. Like Porter has said, he’s a different fighter than the one who lost to Brook in 2014. Look for him to showcase that, knowing full well what’s at stake for him if he does. Pick: Shawn Porter via UD12

Categories: National Sports

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