T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas - In a battle of former world champions, San Antonio’s Mario “El Azteca” Barrios (28-2, 18 KOs) scored two knockdowns and earned the Interim WBC Welterweight Title with an impressive unanimous decision (117-108, 118-107 twice) over Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (27-6, 12 KOs) in their pay-per-view undercard attraction.
"I'm sore but I'm full of excitement and joy right now,” said Barrios. “Everything from camp paid off tonight. I'm happy with my performance. I've always thought very highly of Ugas and I have even more respect for him now. He put up a hell of a fight and I'm thankful to him for the opportunity.”
Barrios landed the first momentum-shifting blow of the fight late in round two as he snuck in a strong left hand against the charging Ugas, sending the former welterweight champion to the floor. Ugas was unfazed in rising to his feet, but the shot portended the difficulties he’d have in beating the younger Barrios to the punch.
“The first knockdown definitely set the tone because early on he caught me with a nice liver shot that slowed me down a little bit,” said Barrios. “Once I settled down and found that quick little jab, that’s when I was able to start picking up the pace.”
The speed discrepancy didn’t stop Ugas from getting back into the fight as he utilized an increased body attack and several sharp right hands to try to slow down Barrios. Barrios’ activity made it difficult for Ugas to build momentum, as he out-threw Ugas 810 to 484 and landed more jabs (107) than Ugas landed total shots (101).
The consistent attack from Barrios began to wear on Ugas, who’s right eye swelled up and forced observation from the ringside physician three times before the fight’s final three rounds. In round 12, Barrios closed the show in style, landing a flush counter left hook against the swelling eye of Ugas, putting him down for the second time in the fight. While trying to survive the round, Ugas’ mouthpiece fell out twice, prompting referee Tom Taylor to deduct a point before the final bell. With his best win at 147 pounds in hand, Barrios set his sights on more big fights at welterweight.
“I want to take it further and contend for the main WBC title,” said Barrios. “I know that there are steps to get there. I’m going to sit down with my team and we’re going to see what’s next.”