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Spence stops Ugas to seize third welterweight belt

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Errol Spence punished Yordenis Ugas on the way to a 10th-round technical knockout early yesterday to add the Cuban’s World Boxing Association (WBA) title to his World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) belts.

Spence, fighting in front of home fans in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T stadium in Texas, remained unbeaten, improving to 28-0 with 22 knockouts when referee Laurence Cole called a halt at 1:44 of the 10th on the advice of the ringside doctor.

By then, Ugas’ right eye was swollen shut from the blows meted out by Spence, who rocked the Cuban in the seventh round and continued to pour in the punishment until it was over.

Spence was fighting for the first time since an eye injury suffered in training forced him out of a planned bout with Manny Pacquiao last August.

Ugas stepped in at the last minute and sent the Philippine legend into retirement with a unanimous decision victory.

But the 35-year-old Cuban had no answer for Spence’s powerful combinations. He did rock the American in the sixth round, sending him reeling into the ropes after knocking Spence’s mouthpiece out.

Errol Spence Jr and Yordenis Ugas trade punches during a welterweight championship boxing match in Arlington, Texas. PHOTO: AP

Spence said he was distracted by the loss of his mouthpiece, and didn’t defend himself adequately.

“I thought the ref had said stop,” Spence said. “That’s my fault.”

It could have been ruled a knock-down, but Spence – who has never been sent to the canvas – insisted he was never out on his feet.

He led on all three judges’ scorecards when the fight was stopped as Ugas fell to 27-5 with 12 knockouts.

This would be Spence’s second comeback from serious injury – the first when he was sidelined for months after a car crash in October 2019.

The 32-year-old said during the in-ring interview post-bout he didn’t have any doubts about his return after suffering a detached retina.

“I believe in myself 100 per cent. I train 100 per cent. And I just knew I would be victorious,” he said.

However, with his last fight being in December 2020 – a victory over Danny Garcia – Spence said he did feel his timing was a little off in the early rounds with Ugas.

“But I knew I was going to catch on later in the rounds. I just kept on working, kept on punching.”

With three belts in hand, Spence wasted no time in calling out unbeaten World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion Terence Crawford.

“That’s the fight that I want, that’s the fight everybody else wants,” Spence said. “Terence, I’m coming for that belt.”

Ugas, meanwhile, said he wished the fight had continued.

“I couldn’t see from the eye, but I wanted to keep going to the end,” said the 35-year-old Cuban, whose eye was examined by the ringside doctor several times during the bout.

“I feel sad because I trained really hard for this fight.”