Cuban welterweight contender Yordenis Ugas did about as expected tonight in Biloxi, Mississippi, dominating veteran Mike Dallas Jr in the main event, scoring a stoppage after seven rounds of largely one-sided action.
Dallas (23-4-2, 11 KO) hadn’t been seen by many boxing fans for the last seven years, following a first round knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse in Jan. 2013 on HBO. Once a prospect, Dallas was sort of found out back in 2011 when he dropped a pair of fights to Josesito Lopez and Mauricio Herrera. He’d gone 4-0-1 in his last five fights, but the wins were all over opponents with losing records in six-round club bouts, three of them in Tijuana.
That meant pretty much everyone expected Dallas to be outclassed by Ugas (25-4, 11 KO), who has been hot in the welterweight division the last few years after his own setbacks earlier in his career. Ugas arguably should have won the WBC title from Shawn Porter 11 months ago, but came away with a split decision loss, which really just firmly established him as a serious welterweight contender.
He showed the difference tonight, outworking, outlanding, outhustling, and more or less just having his way in the ring. Dallas had little flashes here and there where you could remember he’s not an unskilled goof or anything like that, but after the seventh round, where Dallas probably did his best work of the fight, he was stopped in the corner. It seemed perhaps he and his team both knew that they’d just given it their best shot, not dented Ugas (or won the round, even), and that it wasn’t worth continuing.
Hopefully the 33-year-old Ugas gets a less terrible matchup for his next outing, but it seems unlikely he’ll get a title fight. PBC do have welterweights beyond Spence, Pacquiao, Porter, Thurman, and Danny Garcia for him to fight, but he’s also a guy I don’t think anyone is dying to get in the ring with. He’s skilled, he’s not a big star, and his record isn’t pretty. You’re not taking an “0” if you beat him, and he’s not easy to beat.
Michel Rivera TKO-10 Fidel Maldonado Jr
A really good win for the 21-year-old lightweight Rivera (18-0, 12 KO), a Dominican fighter found by Sampson Lewkowicz, who has quite a track record. Maldonado (27-5-1, 20 KO) can be awkward as a southpaw veteran, can be fun to watch sometimes, but he was outclassed here by the younger man.
Rivera was just sharp and confident throughout the 10 rounds here. He may have hurt the 28-year-old Maldonado a bit in the ninth round, and then dropped the Albuquerque native in the 10th. Maldonado got up, but Rivera finished things with a final flurry, forcing the ref to step in with about half of the final round remaining.
Rivera’s certainly someone to watch. His win last year over Rene Tellez Giron didn’t seem huge at the time, but looks even better now with Tellez Giron going on to smash Karlos Balderas. This is a young fighter with skills, power enough to close the show, and a very calm, cool demeanor in the ring. There’s a lot to like here. 135 is a division with some terrific talent, so breaking through won’t be easy, but
Clay Collard TKO-2 Raymond Guajardo
Guajardo came in here the prospect, this was meant to be a showcase. A 19-year-old middleweight from San Antonio, Guajardo had dominated to date in his pro career. But the 26-year-old Collard — an MMA veteran who had four fights in UFC in 2014-15, but in boxing a club fighter out of Utah who said coming in that this was his last boxing fight (he planned to switch his focus back to MMA) — came out to war, and so did the kid.
And we got a war. Collard (6-2-3, 2 KO) was tagging Guajardo (5-1, 4 KO) quickly, and eating shots himself. Guajardo went down twice in the first round, but he did come back to put Collard down in the same round. Then Collard hurt Guajardo again late in the round, setting up the second, where Guajardo’s nose was busted and he got battered enough by Collard that referee Keith Hughes just had no choice but to step in and end it for the upset.
“It was a war! That’s what fighting is,” Collard said in his post-fight interview, which wasn’t expected to happen. “We’re in there battling and I love it. It was awesome.”
At that point Collard, getting a rare chance to speak on national TV, was interrupted by Guajardo, who tried to do the interview he planned on (with some tweaks, obviously), and was rightly booed heartily for interrupting the victorious underdog.
Asked if he still planned to leave boxing behind, Collard said, “I’m chasing some money right now. I’ve been doing this since I was six years old. I’m ready to scrap. Let’s go. Line ‘em up. Right now, I think I’m gonna cash in a little bit.”
This isn’t going to be on many shortlists at the end of the year (nobody watched this, for starters), but this one’s worth remembering, and the first round especially will be worth consideration for Round of the Year, I’m confident of that. Absolute war.
Guajardo obviously is back to square one. He’s young and his confidence got the best of him. He showed zero defense here and Collard made him pay.
Omar Juarez UD-8 Angel Martinez
Kind of an odd fight to assess, as Juarez (7-0, 4 KO) dominated and landed a lot of power shots, but he never had Martinez (19-19-1, 12 KO) in any real trouble. So maybe the 20-year-old Juarez’ power is questionable, but then again, while the 28-year-old Martinez has been stopped 10 times in his career, his last four have all gone an eight-round distance in defeat, and not against bums, either.
So basically let’s just chalk it up to Juarez dominated and not read a lot more into it for now. Scores were 79-73, 80-71, and 80-71. Bad Left Hook had it 80-72 for Juarez, he owned the fight.
Jesus Ramos RTD-6 Ramal Amanov
18-year-old welterweight prospect Ramos (12-0, 11 KO) continues to wreck foes early in his career, as he dominated 35-year-old Amanov (16-2, 5 KO) in this one until the fight was rightly stopped after the sixth round.
Ramos obviously has a long, long way to go, but he’s a 5’10” southpaw at 147, he’s got power in both hands, it seems, and he works the body consistently. There’s a lot to like. The 35-year-old Amanov isn’t actually anywhere near as good as his carefully curated record, but it’s still a nice win for Ramos.
Deon Nicholson UD-10 Earl Newman
This fight got bumped to the prelims broadcast when another was canceled, and this was probably better than what we were originally scheduled to see. 29-year-old Alabama cruiserweight Nicholson improves to 13-0 (12 KO), going the distance for the first time in his pro career — going past the fourth round for the first time, in fact.
Newman (10-3-1, 7 KO) has now lost three straight and is 0-3-1 in his last four, hasn’t won a fight since mid-2016, but he gave Nicholson a legitimate test here. Nicholson came out bombing and completely owned the first round (we scored it a 10-8 for him, it was so lopsided), but Newman got back into the fight from there and made it competitive the rest of the way.
Official scores were 96-94, 96-94, and 97-93 for Nicholson. Bad Left Hook had it 97-92 for Nicholson.
“I knew he was a tough opponent,” Nicholson said after the fight. “We just moved the jab and boxed with him, tried to wear him down and go to the body. I knew he could take a good shot so I just had to calm down and be patient.”
Nicholson said he’s ready to challenge “somebody in the top 10,” but you do have to wonder about his size at cruiserweight. He’s listed at 5’11” and has never weighed in over 193½, weighing 190½ on the scales yesterday for this fight. He’s weighed in as low as 178¼ before, but if 175 is just too big a cut for him to feel good, cruiserweight is the only option.