On Friday, August 12, 2016, ESPN presented a Premier Boxing Champions fight card from Verona, New York.
Televised coverage kicked off with Olympic bronze medalist Yordenis Ugas (16-3, 7 KOs) defeating contender Jamal James (20-1, 9 KOs) by unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92, 96-94) in a technical 10-round welterweight showdown.
James stepped in on short notice to replace undefeated welterweight Bryant Perrella, who was forced to withdraw from tonight’s bout because of an injury to his left thumb. James was coming off just 27 of days rest following his July 16 split decision victory over Wale Omotoso.
Ugas fought last 825 days ago when he lost his second consecutive bout, the third defeat of his career. However, Ugas showed no sign of ring rust on Friday night as he casually controlled the action against James.
Ugas, a five-time Cuban National Champion, used his tremendous experience and was able to neutralize James’ height advantage.
“We focused on the body because (James) was tall,” said Ugas. “So we planned on chopping him down, and that’s what I did.”
Although Ugas had initially been preparing for his long-awaited comeback against the left handed Perrella, he had no difficulty with the orthodox James.
Ugas added, “I followed my corner’s instructions and won round by round. I felt very consistent in there tonight.”
Knowing that he’d come up short, James said, “I thought it was a good fight. (Ugas) brought it tonight. I was fighting his fight unfortunately. I started to outpoint him late, so I should have started earlier with my combinations and countering. I was trying to knock him out and I should have just boxed.”
James added, “I have no excuses though, I am a grown man and could have said ‘no’ to taking this fight. But fighting is what I do. Other fighters are not doing what I did tonight. Sure, if I had more time to prepare I might have done better, but I am a fighter.”
On his prospects moving forward, Ugas said, “After the long layoff, this is a new beginning for me, and now I am looking for a big opportunity in my next fight. It felt good to get back to fighting.”
A resilient James summed things up adding, “A fight like tonight makes me hungrier to get back in the gym and get myself ready to come back again better than ever.”
All photos by Marilyn Paulino/Round By Round Boxing