Yordenis Ugas is thankful for his title reign, if not the manner in which he is required to maintain that status.
A purse bid hearing has been added to the schedule to determine promotional rights for Ugas’ ordered WBA “Super” welterweight title defense versus Lithuania’s Eimantas Stanionis. The sanctioning body took that step after having exhausted all options following a period of more than two months since the fight was first mandated in September.
The session will take place December 9 in Miami, open to all WBA-registered promoters who are required to bid no less than $200,000 for the bout. The winning bid will be split 75/25 in favor of Ugas as the reigning titlist.
The fight was first ordered September 15 as part of a four-man box-off with the intention to whittle down the welterweight division to just one titlist. Ugas-Stanionis was packaged with a long overdue WBA “World” title fight, which saw Radzhab Butaev (14-0, 11KOs; 1NC) dethrone Jamal James (27-2, 12KOs) via ninth round stoppage on October 30 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
Butaev will face the winner of Ugas-Stanionis, assuming the fight moves forward.
Ugas (27-4, 12KOs)—a 2008 Olympian for Cuba before relocating to Miami and now Las Vegas—hoped for a higher profile fight on the heels of a twelve-round points win over legendary former eight-division titlist Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39KOs) on August 22 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight came on short notice, with Ugas replacing injured WBC/IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs) on just eleven days’ notice.
The convincing victory by Ugas put to rest any debate over the title he held. The Cuban export was upgraded from WBA “World” to “Super” ttilsit earlier this year at the expense of Pacquiao, whose inactivity and failure to notify the WBA of plans to defend the belt resulting in a downgrade to WBA “Champion in Recess.”
The matter was settled in the ring, with Ugas claiming a career-best win and then enjoying a victory lap with the sanctioning body. A conference call was held in Ugas’ honor, coupled with the announcement of the WBA’s plans to reduce its number of recognized titlists and abolishment of its interim titles.
It was the last time that Ugas—and, quite frankly—Premier Boxing Champions (PBC)—received any good news from the sanctioning body.
Several rulings in the aftermath have landed to the detriment of PBC, who petitioned for several more notable bouts than what have been ordered by the WBA. A request was denied for Ugas to face Spence in a three-belt unification bout next February in lieu of an uninspiring mandatory title defense versus Stanionis (13-0, 9KOs; 1ND), a rising contender who could stand to further develop.
With the rejected request came a 30-day negotiation period ordered by the WBA in October. Ugas was represented by TGB Promotions, while Stanionis—who has spent his entire pro career on PBC shows—is promoted by Richard Schaefer, who transferred the 2016 Olympian from his now defunct Ringstar Promotions to upstart company Probellum. Stanionis is also represented by veteran boxing manager Shelly Finkel, who along with Schaefer remained opposed to the request by Ugas to instead pursue a title unification bout.
Negotiations did not go very far between parties. The WBA provided the bad news during the Thanksgiving holiday season, that the matter is now available to all WBA-registered promoters.
Stanionis has not fought since a No-Decision with former titlist Luis Collazo this past August, two weeks prior to Ugas’ win over Pacquiao. Earlier this year, Stanionis fended off determined former title challenger Thomas Dulorme to win a twelve-round decision this past April.
Ugas won the vacant WBA “World” welterweight title in a twelve-round decision win over Abel Ramos last September. The victory over Pacquiao marks his lone title defense to date.
Per WBA by-laws, failure by Ugas to proceed with the ordered title fight will result in the WBA “Super” title being declared vacant. Conversely, failure by Stanionis to move forward with the fight will result in his forfeiture of a mandatory title shot along with removal from a title-eligible ranking.
Ugas-Stanionis is one of at least two WBA purse bid hearings scheduled for December 9. Also on the schedule is a session to determine promotional rights for the re-ordered secondary heavyweight title fight between WBA “World” titlist Trevor Bryan and “Champion in Recess” and former title claimant Mahmoud Charr.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox