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 judges’ 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 WBA’s Super title-holder Manny Pacquiao holds the sanctioning body’s more credible crown in the division.

“I 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.

“I 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 Arizona’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. Ramos’ 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 Cuban’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.