Porter vows power-packed display in WBC title defense

Shawn Porter has been working on punching power ahead of his WBC title defense against Yordenis Ugas on Saturday (AFP Photo/AL BELLO) (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Shawn Porter is aiming to deliver a knockout performance when he puts his WBC welterweight title on the line for the first time against skilful Cuban challenger Yordenis Ugas on Saturday.

The 31-year-old American defends his title in Carson, California on Saturday after a training camp which has placed an emphasis on increasing his punching power with a quick finish in mind.

"We worked on a lot of different things for me and to get ready for Ugas," said Porter. "I think power is really going to come into play.

"We really were able to focus on that. That might be something new that you see. If I get an early knockout, it's not because Ugas can't take a punch."

Porter (29-2-1, 17 knockouts), won his WBC crown last September after defeating Danny Garcia by a unanimous decision.

His last knockout came in 2017, when he pummeled Andre Berto into submission with a ninth-round stoppage.

Bookmakers have installed Porter as a heavy favourite against Ugas, who is 23-3 with 11 knockouts.

The 32-year-old Cuban underdog has worked his way back up the rankings after back-to-back defeats in 2014 which appeared to have blown his career off course.

Heading into Saturday's bout, Ugas has stitched together a run of eight consecutive victories which included knockout victories over Ray Robinson and Jonathan Batista in 2018.

"I changed trainers and made changes in my life," Ugas said. "That is what's made a difference."

Ugas, a bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said his amateur career continues to influence his professional career in helping him adapt to different styles.

"It's a good thing I came from the Cuban national team, because I got to fight all styles from all kinds of countries," Ugas said. "There are a lot of tough guys in the amateurs and the pros and I've seen what they all can bring."

Porter too is wary of Ugas's amateur pedigree, insisting he will not be underestimating an opponent who he thinks is unproven at the highest level.

"I don't think Ugas has fought at the top level as a professional," Porter said. "In order to not underestimate him, you have to understand he fought at that highest level consistently in the amateurs.

"I know what he can bring to the ring. He throws punches like a Cuban fighter. When they turn their punches, they do it a little differently.

"I'm training my mind and my eyes to be prepared for that."