ARLINGTON, Texas – Errol Spence, Jr. got dizzy as he stared around the ring for his mouthpiece.
Yordenis Ugas sent her on Saturday after making contact with his brutal right hand in Round 6, before referee Laurence Cole slowly moved to stop the action to allow Spence to take it back. That’s when Ugas hooked up with his left hand followed by the right that sent a distracted Spence to slip into the ropes in what could have been called a knockout.
The chain of events only seemed to revitalize Spence, who was fighting in front of his hometown crowd at AT&T Stadium for the third time in four fights. He started attacking more aggressively during the next round and took control of the match after hitting Ojas with his left strike. The systematic beating he fired at Ugas slowly but surely closed the Cuban boxer’s right eye before the front row doctor advised Cole to stop the fight at 1:44 of the tenth round.
Ugas (27-5, 22 KOs) was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, for an examination of his right eye. Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) was ahead of the three scorecards in the stoppage time: 88-82, 88-83 and 88-82. Two judges scored the eighth round for Spence 10-8.
With the win, Spence added the Ugas welterweight title along with the WBC and IBF titles he already had. Now, Spence only needs Terence Crawford’s WBO title to become the undisputed 147-pound champion.
“Everyone knows who I want next; I want to be the next Terrence Crawford,” Spence, the number 6 pound-for-pound boxer on ESPN, told ESPN. “This is the fight that I want; this is the fight that everyone wants. Terence, I’m coming for that mother belt.”
For years, Spence and Crawford have swirled around each other but never come close to finalizing a deal that has long been one of the biggest potential boxing bouts. Crawford’s win over Sean Porter in November was the latest round of his long-term deal with Top Rank, a rarely-dealed PBC promotional firm that promotes Spence fights.
Now that Crawford is a free agent, the biggest hurdle to the match has been removed, and it looks like a real possibility later this year.
“Congratulations, great fight, now the real fight is happening,” Crawford tweeted at Spence. “No more talk, no side of the street, let’s go!”
The fight with Crawford seemed to slip out of Spence’s fist mid-match. Ojas, 35, continued to offload his load on Spence in the sixth round after hitting the ropes as the candidate absorbed the penalty. Cole finally stopped the match this time, despite the lack of a lull in the action. The delay appeared to have allowed Spence, 32, to recover. He started firing punches at Ojas after the match resumed.
“I thought the referee said ‘stop’, so I stopped,” said Spence, who scored his first stop for a champ since winning the FIVB title from Kell Brook in May 2017. Then he hit me with three or four shots. .It was my fault. It was That’s a junior mistake. You’re supposed to protect yourself at all times, and I didn’t. I wasn’t on my feet. I turned and looked at my tongue and he hit me.”
Round 6 was Ojas’ last encounter. Spence, who mostly cornered his back foot during the first half of the match, now attacked with relentless pressure. The modification made all the difference. ESPN’s No. 2 welterweight targeted the Ugas midsection, and it paid off as his activity decreased.
Of the 216 punches that landed Spence, 70 fell to the body, according to CompuBooks. Spence threw 110 powerful punches in a fiery 8 round and called 46.
Ojas quarreled with Spence on the inside, but his right eye continued to bulge out to the point that he couldn’t see it. He was injured again in the eighth round after a series of shots before Cole halted the match to allow the doctor to examine Ugas. After about a minute, work resumed. This time, Ugas received a deferment.
“I feel sad; I trained hard for this fight,” ESPN’s third welterweight Ojas said through an interpreter. “All my respect to Errol Spence. He is a great champion. … the referee stopped the fight, but I wanted to keep going until the end. I definitely had a chance to win the fight in round six, but he recovered well.”
In a twist, it was Spence’s left eye that led to this match in the first place. The 32-year-old was scheduled to meet legend Manny Pacquiao in August, but Spence pulled out of the fight after a doctor diagnosed him with a retinal detachment.
Spence underwent surgery quickly as Ojas stepped in at 11 days notice for a life-changing opportunity. Ugas was already a champion and had overturned a controversial decision by Porter in a title match earlier in his career, but this was an opportunity to establish himself as one of the elite boxing team.
Ojas rose to the occasion by winning the dominant decision in a surprise and sending Pacquiao into retirement. Spence’s torch-pass brawl disappeared like a puff of smoke, but another chance arose for him.
Quickly recovering from the surgery, Spence skipped the routine tuning bout and headed straight to unifying the title with Ugas. The bout was Spence’s fourth consecutive pay-per-view and third at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in his past four fights (announced 39,946 attendees).
“I had absolutely no doubts,” Spence said. “I believe in myself 100%.” “…I didn’t want to fight a mod or fight someone I knew I could beat. I wanted someone who would bring out the best in me and I knew Ugas would do my best.”
Once again, Spence after his serious injury proved that he is still one of the best fighters in all of boxing. After defeating Porter in one of the best action fights of 2019, he was involved in one devastating car crash one month later in October.
After losing several teeth and a hospital stay, Spence returned in December 2020 by winning the decision over Danny Garcia to retain his title. And now, he’s racked up another impressive victory over one of the world’s best weightlifters in his first fight after eye surgery.
All that remains for Spence in the welterweight division, of course, is a long-awaited meeting with Crawford.