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Yordenis Ugas vs Mike Dallas Jr to headline Super Bowl eve FS1 show

The Cuban welterweight contender is not in the sort of fight we might want, but there could be plenty of reasons for this.

Omar Figueroa Jr. v Yordenis Ugas Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Welterweight contender Yordenis Ugas will make his return to the ring on Saturday, Feb. 1, headlining a Super Bowl eve PBC show on FS1, facing veteran Mike Dallas Jr in a 12-round fight.

Let’s not beat around the bush here: this is not the level of fight anyone wants for the 33-year-old Ugas (24-4, 11 KO), but all things being equal we have to consider a few things.

  • Ugas is a legitimate contender, yes, BUT
  • Ugas has no significant fan base, PLUS
  • Ugas had a stretch in his career where he struggled, resulting in a W-L record that doesn’t allow people to go “undefeated!!!” in press releases, AND
  • Ugas is a legit dangerous opponent for anyone.

Throw that all in a pot, cook it up, and you’ve arrived at a true boxing delicacy: the guy nobody wants a damn thing to do with in a competitive division.

Back in 2012, which is basically a lifetime ago in boxing years at this point, Ugas was upset on ShoBox by Johnny Garcia. He bounced back to win four straight, but in 2014 he dropped back-to-back decisions to Emanuel Robles and Amir Imam, which seemed to indicate Ugas, once a promising prospect, was headed for journeyman status.

Instead, he was out of the ring almost two years, moved from 140 to 147, and went on a tear. He beat undefeated prospects Jamal James and Bryant Perrella in back-to-back bouts in 2016, then picked up wins over Levan Ghvamichava, Nelson Lara, Thomas Dulorme, Ray Robinson, Jonathan Batista, and Cesar Barrionuevo, setting up a Mar. 2019 shot at Shawn Porter and the WBC welterweight title.

Ugas lost a controversial split decision that night — Porter took cards of 115-113 and 116-112, while Ugas won the third card 117-111 — then returned four months later to completely dominate Omar Figueroa Jr over 12 rounds.

Ugas is with the right team for a welterweight, in that he’s a PBC fighter, but PBC’s cash cows are:

  • IBF/WBC titleholder Errol Spence Jr, who’s on the shelf for now and planning a late spring return
  • WBA titleholder Manny Pacquiao, who just turned 41 and has significant priorities outside of boxing that make his schedule tough to gauge, and frankly if PBC are going to schedule him in tough fights (as they did in July of this year), they’ll do it with someone they envision making big money after potentially beating Manny
  • Porter, who is strongly considering a fight with WBO titleholder Terence Crawford
  • Keith Thurman, who lost to Pacquiao in July and probably will want to bounce back with someone less threatening than Ugas
  • Danny Garcia, who is set to fight Ivan Redkach on Jan. 25, meant to be a tune-up for a possible fight later in the year with Spence or Pacquiao.

There has been some question as to why PBC don’t offer Ugas to Top Rank as an opponent for Terence Crawford, but that perhaps misses some of the point, too. Top Rank and Crawford probably aren’t dying to fight Ugas. Again, Ugas is not a big name, big money fighter. The other six top PBC welterweights are. Crawford and Top Rank want money fights with top PBC names, not just some opponent that Die Hard Boxing Heads know is legit. Top Rank stand to do every bit the business matching Crawford with Egidijus Kavaliauskas or Alexander Besputin or someone, and those guys don’t carry quite the risk that Ugas does.

So Ugas, despite being on the “right” side at 147, is still kinda screwed. And that’s why we’re getting a fight like this one, I suppose. Yes, PBC have better in-house options, in theory — a rematch with Jamal James, a fight with Sergey Lipinets or Josesito Lopez — but there’s no being certain any of those guys are exactly lining up to fight Ugas, either. James did once, he lost. Lipinets is a top 10-ish fighter at the weight, there’s every chance he could himself land a bigger fight with someone like Thurman. Josesito? Well, he’s generally up for anything, so yes, that would’ve been nice, but I also can’t be certain that he wants it or doesn’t have some other path planned out.

I don’t mean any of this as personal disrespect to Mike Dallas Jr, a 33-year-old veteran from Bakersfield, California, nicknamed “The Silent Assassin,” and someone that many fans may remember as an emerging 140-pound prospect at the start of this decade. But Dallas is ranked No. 118 in the world by BoxRec and hasn’t been on the map for years, for understandable reasons.

Back in 2011, the bloom came off the rose for Dallas, as Josesito Lopez stopped him in seven and then he came back five months later to lose a decision to Mauricio Herrera. He was blasted out in the first round by Lucas Matthysse in Jan. 2013, then didn’t fight for nearly three years before returning late in 2015, which set up a May 2016 draw with Dusty Hernandez Harrison, who frankly has been more press release hype than actual prospect.

Then Dallas was out again until Nov. 2018, so another two-and-a-half years, basically. He came back in Tijuana to beat a scrub, then was out another 11 months before beating a scrub in his hometown via six-round decision on Oct. 19.

Basically, by the time Dallas gets into the ring with Ugas, he will be about four years removed from having last fought a legitimate opponent.

It’s not a good fight. It’ll also be going head-to-head with an ESPN card headlined by WBC/WBO junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez taking on Viktor Postol — while that show is in China, last report was it was being scheduled to take place on the morning of Feb. 2 local time, so Feb. 1 prime time normal hours for US TV. So probably not much of anyone is going to watch it, though that’s par for the course with FS1 shows anyway.

That said, the fighters will fight, they’ll be there, and hey, there was a time Yordenis Ugas was about as counted-out as Mike Dallas will be here.

“I’m very excited to be returning to the ring,” said Ugas. “This is a huge weekend for sports fans and I’m very motivated fighting one day before the Super Bowl. You know when you get a Ugas fight you get all action, all the time and I’m looking to put on a Super Bowl-worthy performance. Mike Dallas is a smart tricky fighter with a lot of heart and I know he’ll be at his best. I’m fully focused on the task at hand but after I handle business, I want to fight the best welterweights in the world.”

“I just want to say that I’m ready to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Dallas. “I’m ready to give it my all in the ring on February 1. This is going to be a great fight and I’m working extremely hard to be at my best when we step in there.”

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