A busy winter of fights in Los Angeles adds another card March 9 with the announcement Thursday that Shawn Porter’s first welterweight title defense is coming to the newly named Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
Porter (29-2-1, 17 knockouts) was supposed to fight in his hometown of Las Vegas against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs), but Premier Boxing Champions officials opted to shift the fight to Southern California.
The move means Southland venues will have staged seven significant boxing cards, along with a UFC pay-per-view event and Saturday’s Bellator MMA card at the Forum, between New Year’s Eve weekend and the second week of April.
Upcoming bouts include a Feb. 9 super-featherweight bout in Carson between champion Gervonta Davis and former three-division champion Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens, a Feb. 16 featherweight title defense by Los Angeles’ Leo Santa Cruz against Rafael Rivera at L.A. Live’s Microsoft Theater and an April 12 lightweight title defense by Vasiliy Lomachenko at Staples Center.
Santa Cruz’s opponent was switched to Rivera on Thursday after Miguel Flores injured an ankle while training.
A recent study by the Assn. of Boxing Commissions found that California hosted more boxing cards in 2018 — 118 — than Nevada (21), New York (28) and Texas (54) combined.
Porter, 31, won the WBC belt with a Sept. 8 unanimous decision over former two-division champion Danny Garcia, and he’s angling for a rematch with current World Boxing Assn. champion Keith Thurman, who defends his belt Saturday.
“We’ve already been in training camp for a few weeks working on conditioning and building up the fundamentals,” Porter said. “Ugas is a strong, aggressive fighter who’s responsible with his defense. He’s a Cuban fighter and I know he won’t waver from that. It’s going to be up to me to get him to drop his hands, take some risks and then land my shots. It should make for a very entertaining fight and I can’t wait to get back in the ring and do what I do best.”
Ugas, 32, has won eight consecutive bouts and said he is ready for the challenge.
“Shawn Porter is a great champion and someone I respect,” Ugas said. “On March 9 when the bell rings, I’m willing to leave it all on the line, so the fans shouldn’t miss this one. It will be a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender. I can guarantee that and you will hear the words ‘And the new ...’’'