By Miguel Maravilla at ringside
WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) of Akron, Ohio, barely kept his title with a twelve round split decision over Cuban welterweight Yordenis Ugas (23-4, 11 KOs ) on Saturday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Judges scored the bout 117-111 Ugas, and 116-112 for Porter and 115-113 for Porter as Porter successfully retains his title.
“The crowd was expecting a big brawl, but that’s not the way this fight needed to go tonight,” said Porter afterward. “That style that we used left the fight close. We got the win, we’re still champion and we’re looking forward to what is next….the weight cut didn’t affect me at all. I was on my toes all night. I was very focused the entire fight and just listening to my corner.”
Ugas stalked the flashy Porter in the opening round as they started off slow. Sticking the jab and stalking in the second round, Ugas followed up with a solid right hand that caught Porter’s attention. Fighting at a slow pace in round three, Ugas urged Porter to engage as the champ still tried to figure him out. The jab continued to find its mark for Ugas as Porter had difficulty getting inside of the Cuban’s reach in the fourth.
Trading in the center of the ring in the fifth Porter and Ugas exchanged but the Cuban backed Porter to finish the round. Ugas continued to beat Porter to the punch and outwork him in the sixth as the champ continued to figure him out. Halfway through in the seventh, Porter and Ugas exchanged jabs. Later in the round Porter retreated and kept his distance to close the round. Ugas timed Porter’s hand speed with the jab in the eighth as the champ attempted to adapt to the Cuban’s size and reach.
Fighting at a slow pace in the ninth the fans began to get inpatient, later in the round Porter circled the stalking but Ugas closed the round with a solid right. Late in the fight in the tenth, Ugas continued to stalk as Porter was cut on right eye from a punch. The championship rounds saw a frustrated Porter as Ugas continued to stay on of the champ behind the jab and awkward style, later in the round Porter lunged in wand was caught by a solid counter.
With the fight close in the twelfth and final round, Porter hit the canvas but referee Jack Reiss immediately ruled a slip as Ugas was in disbelief, Ugas followed up with a solid right. The Cuban challenger continued to go at the champ as he finished the fight with extreme confidence.