A Cuban dream became a reality for Yordenis Ugas as he withstood a late surge from Abel Ramos to clinch the vacant WBA Regular welterweight title on a split decision at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Scores of 115-113 (twice) for Ugas overruled an off-base 117-111 card for Ramos.
In the last three sessions, Ramos won eight out of a nine possible rounds on the three judgesâ€™ cards but Ugas had enough work in the bank, courtesy of his well-educated jab.
For the new champion, the win signified the realisation of a lifelong crusade though the WBAâ€™s Super title-holder Manny Pacquiao holds the sanctioning bodyâ€™s more credible crown in the division.
â€œI set a goal when I was a child back in Cuba to become a world [professional] champion and I accomplished that goal tonight,” said Ugas, a former World Amateur champion. “I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way. Ramos was a very tough opponent and I knew it was not going to be easy, but I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away.
â€œI came into this fight in the best shape of my life and it showed. Now that I’m a world champion, I want all the big names in the welterweight division.”
A busy jab proved the key for Ugas, but Arizonaâ€™s Ramos had his moments. He stunned Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) with a left hook in the third and appeared the crisper puncher at times. Ramosâ€™ left eye swelled up from the fourth but he plugged away regardless, with Ugas impressing with right hands to the body.
Rallying late on, Ramos (26-4-2, 20 KOs) buzzed Ugas in the final round, but the Cubanâ€™s greater experience and skillset was enough to see him home.
The new champion must now meet Radzhab Butaev who lost a decision to fellow Russian Alexander Besputin for the same WBA title last November. Besputin subsequently tested positive for a banned substance and was stripped, with Ugas and Ramos the immediate beneficiaries.
Main image: Ugas (right) punishes Ramos. Photo: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions.