Porter vs. Ugas Preview

By Caryn A. Tate on March 8, 2019
Porter vs. Ugas Preview
“My style comes with a rough and aggressive approach that not many people understand.”

The outcome of this bout may come down to which fighter is more versatile and able to adjust on the fly. It promises to be a terrific match-up…

On Saturday, WBC welterweight world champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) makes the first defense of his title against mandatory contender Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs). The bout takes place at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly Stub Hub Center) in Carson, California and will be broadcast live on FOX starting at 5pm PT/8pm ET.

Porter was 1.8 pounds over the 147-pound limit at Friday’s weigh-in, but was able to strip the excess weight within the allotted two-hour time limit. He returned weighing 146.8 after cutting his hair to help him make the limit.

We’ll find out on Saturday whether making the weight bothered Porter at all. Based on his history of being a strict professional, and the fact that this is the first time he’s ever missed weight, I suspect the missed weight was a miscalculation by his team.

In the ring, “Showtime” is best known for his buzzsaw style, as I wrote last fall before his bout with Danny Garcia for the then-vacant WBC title. It’s a viciously aggressive mode of fighting that is extremely rare in modern boxing but was once utilized by such legendary boxers as Henry Armstrong, Marlon Starling, Aaron Pryor, and many others.

In more recent decades, the buzzsaw style but specifically the ability to fight skillfully on the inside has become increasingly uncommon. With Shawn Porter, one can see that he not only wields the style in a skillful yet savage way; he brings with it an intensity and pressure that is incredibly difficult for his opponents to deal with. That includes elite, world-level opposition.

Before Porter’s bout with Danny Garcia in September, many pundits mistakenly assumed that “Showtime” is a one-note fighter. These critics expected him to simply come at Garcia with his rough and aggressive style. What they failed to understand is that Porter has shown the ability to box at the highest level from the outside, when he upset southpaw boxer Devon Alexander in 2013; on top of that, they neglected to comprehend that, in order to utilize a skilled buzzsaw style at all at the top level and have the success he does, Porter inherently must possess top-notch fundamentals that can indicate elite boxing ability. When watching Porter fight, one can see those skills and fundamentals at work in every one of his bouts.

Shawn’s footwork is exceptional. He has fast feet, cutting distance so quickly and efficiently that even the top welterweights he’s faced don’t typically have an answer for it. When he chooses to box from the outside, he uses his educated feet to feint, pivot to create angles and change distance, and utilize lateral movement to keep his opponent guessing.

Porter has tremendous timing and ring IQ from his many years’ experience in the sport and his successful amateur pedigree, not to mention his diligent work ethic as a professional.

Porter is a dog in the ring. His mindset is one of a full-on pressure fighter, regardless of what combat style he’s using, and never backing down regardless of the circumstances. His opponents always appear to be taken aback by it, despite the fact that they’ve obviously seen him fight before—it’s as if they thought they prepared for him but he’s a different beast still inside the ring.

“My style comes with a rough and aggressive approach that not many people understand,” Shawn told me before his last fight. “The work rate at which I perform is not common. To be able to have the reflexes and willingness to do what I do, that also doesn’t come very often. It takes a lot for me to be as aggressive as I am but also to be so willing offensively and defensively to put myself out there.”

That willingness, that single-minded mentality, possessed by Porter is most likely what we see his opponents reacting to in the ring. It’s as if they’re thinking, “I thought I knew what to expect. This isn’t it.”

What Porter lacks in slickness, or when he has occasional defensive lapses, he makes up for with his dogged mentality. Once he’s entered the ring, Shawn has made up his mind that nothing his opponent can do will stop him from winning the fight.

The challenger on Saturday, Yordenis Ugas, hails from Santiago de Cuba. Like all Cuban boxers, he boasts a highly impressive amateur background: he has won 12 world championships as an amateur and won an Olympic bronze medal in 2008 as a lightweight.

One of the most impressive things about Yordenis as a professional is the fact that he stepped in on short notice in two of his recent matches: against Nelson Lara in April 2017, and versus Thomas Dulorme in August of the same year. In both matches, Ugas had excellent performances, particularly in light of the short preparation time. He stopped Lara in two and went the distance in a competitive bout with Dulorme. Until now, Dulorme was possibly the most difficult opponent of Ugas’ pro career (yes, that is despite Ugas’ two decision losses).

Importantly, Dulorme also brought a little inside game to Ugas during their bout, and it was clear Yordenis was not comfortable there. This may matter a lot come Saturday.

While many have labeled Ugas a puncher, that isn’t entirely accurate. He can definitely crack, but he isn’t a one-punch knockout puncher. Similar to Porter, Ugas is more about wearing his opponent down as the rounds go on (with a few exceptions, of course, for both men). Yordenis’ punch accuracy and his timing are likely the biggest reasons his opponents don’t like the feel his punches.

Unlike some Cuban fighters, Ugas isn’t a big mover. He is relatively light on his feet, but he generally keeps them planted while he looks for openings and counters to catch his opponent unawares. While his footwork is not flashy, his foot placement is almost always perfect.

The early rounds between Porter and Ugas will likely be competitive due to the strengths of both fighters. But, as I mentioned in this week’s What to Watch, the outcome of this bout may come down to which fighter is more versatile and able to adjust on the fly. It promises to be a terrific match-up featuring two of the best welterweights in the world.

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Steve 12:46pm, 03/09/2019

    EXCELLENT article!!

  2. don from prov 12:41pm, 03/09/2019

    Very good write-up.
    I always look forward to watching Porter fight.

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