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Yordenis Ugas trainer: Errol Spence Jr not the fighter he was before his accident

Ismael Salas says Yordenis Ugas can beat the best version of Errol Spence, even if he doesn’t think the same fighter exists now.

Ismael Salas doesn’t think Errol Spence Jr is the same fighter he was in 2019
Ismael Salas doesn’t think Errol Spence Jr is the same fighter he was in 2019
Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Trainer Ismael Salas will be in the corner for Yordenis Ugas when Ugas faces Errol Spence Jr on April 16, and feels Spence isn’t the same fighter he was before the horrific car accident that nearly ended his career in 2019.

“I watched Errol Spence fight Shawn Porter and then I watched Errol Spence fight Danny Garcia, after Spence had his accident,” he said. “It was not the same Errol Spence Jr. I do believe he lost something between the Porter and Garcia fights.”

But Salas is hoping that Spence (27-0, 21 KO) is in top form, so that Ugas (27-4, 12 KO) can say he beat the best version of Errol.

“I want to face the best Errol Spence Jr, because I want the fans to get a great show. This is one of the biggest fights of the year. If he’s in top condition, then Ugas is going to be ready to give him a hell of a fight,” the trainer said.

Ugas and Salas have worked together for years now, and it was with Salas where Ugas really found himself as a pro fighter, after a trio of setbacks in 2012-14. Their run together hit a new high in 2021, when Ugas retired the legendary Manny Pacquiao.

“Yordenis came to us with three losses and since then we’ve been beating undefeated guys and going step-by-step up to this point of facing top fighters. Manny Pacquiao was the biggest fight of his career and Ugas beat him clearly. That was the same Pacquiao who had beat Keith Thurman in his previous fight.”

Tactically, Salas has looked at Spence and seen ways for Ugas to pull the upset, which would see Ugas unify his WBA belt with the WBC and IBF titles currently held by Spence.

“We need to absorb the punching power of Spence. Everyone knows he’s a front-footed fighter who throws bombs from start to finish. It’s no secret that we need to use Spence’s aggressiveness and make it work in our favor,” Salas said.

“It’s been a process for Ugas to get back to this point. He had to regain his confidence when he first joined our gym. We had to make a transition from the Cuban style and make him more aggressive. Yordenis Ugas is a master of the middle distance. He knows how to make you miss and make you pay.”

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