Shawn Porter hopes to show his true character in the ring vs. Yordenis Ugas
Shawn Porter made it by a haircut.
The World Boxing Council welterweight champion responded to missing weight by 1.8 pounds on his first attempt Friday by sweating out some of the excess. When that wasn’t enough, he resorted to the haircut, saving his first title defense by weighing in just two-tenths of a pound under the 147-pound limit.
“I’ve taken care of business,” a drained Porter said emotionally to a group gathered near the scale. “I’m as solid as a rock. Let’s go!”
The matter became harrowing Friday after challenger Yordenis Ugas of Cuba weighed in at 146.6 pounds. The California State Athletic Commission, in keeping with standard policy, gave Porter two hours to shed the weight. As the minutes ticked toward the 3:50 p.m. deadline, Porter opted to get some of his laced hair cut.
Porter and Ugas are in the main event of a Fox-televised Saturday card that begins at 5 p.m. PST from Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park. Porter is looking to transcend the fame attached to his reign as champion and reach a wider audience as major bouts await.
The weight episode will make for good prefight television, which is fitting given that some of Porter’s burgeoning reach is coming through his insightful, vibrant work as an analyst on Fox’s new Premier Boxing Champions studio shows, and more might arrive in Porter’s interest in fashion and other business ventures.
“A big inspiration for me is Shaquille O’Neal,” said Porter, who is 29-2-1 with 17 knockouts. “I’ve seen what he’s done with his career and his investments beyond basketball. … The pastor at my church just told me, ‘Personality gets you in the door, character keeps you in the room.’”
Remaining on this intended path requires winning world-title fights against opponents like Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs).
“That’s the hard part,” promoter Tom Brown said.
If Porter, a 31-year-old from Ohio, can overcome the effect of the maddening weight cut and retain his title by defeating Ugas, who’s won eight consecutive bouts since 2014, he’ll be in prime position to expand his wealth and profile. The PBC has World Boxing Assn. welterweight champion Keith Thurman, secondary WBA champion Manny Pacquiao and International Boxing Federation champion Errol Spence Jr. in its stable too.
The unbeaten Thurman, who previously defeated Porter by narrow decision in 2016 but then surrendered the WBC belt while injured, has the right to seek a rematch with Porter. Thurman will provide commentary from ringside Saturday.
“We’re good, we’re cool, and then Keith says something, and then we go at it,” Porter said. “Having Keith around makes what I’m doing fun. It’s such a hard, gritty sport to compete in, to prepare for, but when you’ve got a guy like Keith sitting across from you … we’ve developed a friendship that’s like a light that can be turned on and shut off just like that.”
Porter’s volume punching and physical nature will pressure the taller Ugas, whose power, focus on defense and unique punching angles have been enhanced during his winning streak.
Ugas came to the U.S. through Mexico after daring open waters from Cuba in March 2010, leaving his mother, Milagro Hernandez, behind before finally seeing her again recently.
“It’s definitely risky, definitely dangerous for anyone to do … a lot of people don’t make it through that journey,” Ugas said. “It’s a situation that has made me stronger. I came here to be a champion. I risked a lot, I sacrificed a lot, didn’t see my mother … all of that has prepared me for Saturday night.”
Porter plays up to the emotion while assessing the fights he analyzes on television, but he was rather blunt in breaking down how he sees this fight progressing.
“Volume alone is why I’ll win. I’ll be precise with my punches and the rest will take care of itself,” Porter said. “I’m faster and quicker than he is and naturally a bigger guy. The fight plays into my hands.”
The undercard includes a welterweight bout between veteran Francisco Santana (25-6-1, 12 KOs) of Santa Barbara and Arizona’s Abel Ramos (23-3-2, 18 KOs) that will likely be a slugfest.
“The public wants great fights. That’s the mentality I always bring,” Santana said. “I fight with such spirit that everything’s on the line, trying to be the best version of myself.”
Ramos’ record is scarred by losses to current 140-pound world champions Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk as well as a draw against Maurice Hooker, now the WBO super-lightweight champion.
“It just motivates me to train harder, to win fights more clearly,” Ramos said. “Victory will open big doors. Mentally, I’m more centered. I have a lot of respect for Santana — he’s a tough guy and doesn’t give up easy.”
Also on the Fox broadcast, unbeaten Nigerian heavyweight Efe Ajagba (8-0, seven KOs) meets 46-year-old Amir Mansour (23-3-1, 16 KOs) in a bout scheduled for eight rounds.
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