The last thing anyone expected to see from Shawn Porter on Saturday when he defended his WBC welterweight title against Yordenis Ugás at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, was for him to be on the outside boxing.
Porter is known for his relentless pressure and getting on the inside and mauling his opponents. Given that he was giving up three inches to Ugás, it seemed even more logical that Porter would try to work his way inside.
Porter and his father/trainer, Kenny, had different ideas. Porter opted to box from the outside, and while there are those who questioned the decision, Porter is heading home to Las Vegas with the green belt in tow.
Porter won a split decision, winning by scores of 115-113 and 116-112, while Ugás won 117-111 on the third card.
The crowd wasn’t thrilled with the verdict, but Porter had no complaints. Porter probably won the fight based on being ever-so-slightly busier. He landed 144 of 515 shots, while Ugas connected on 128 of 449. Those edges, in a bout that could have gone either way, were probably the difference.
“We wanted to outbox him and eventually turn it on and press him,” Porter said. “But my Dad did not see a point in doing that tonight. He thought that, not that we wanted to fight safe, but that that was the smartest way to fight. The way we fought for 12 rounds, no one’s ever seen me fight like that before. I think that might have even thrown the judges’ [off] a little bit.”
Ugás was clearly unhappy by the verdict, though he didn’t fight the final round with the sense of urgency one might have expected. Neither fighter did, but Ugás fought the same style, looking to counter, in the 12th that he did throughout the bout.
It wasn’t enough and he saw his eight-fight winning streak come to an end. He lost back-to-back fights to Emanuel Robles and Amir Imam as a junior welterweight in 2014, then moved up to welterweight after that. He was unbeaten at the weight until Saturday’s performance against Porter.
He’s going to look back on the bout and lament the lost opportunities, because this was a night where Porter wasn’t at his best and there to be beaten. Ugás fought better than expected and that almost always wins over the crowd, but had he pushed the pace, the outcome could have been different.
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