LAS VEGAS — Former WBA super lightweight champion Mario Barrios wanted to make a statement in the 147-pound class Saturday night in his first fight since stopping Jovanie Santiago in February.
Barrios won the interim WBC welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over 37-year-old Yordenis Ugás on the undercard of the undisputed world super middleweight championship between Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo on Saturday night.
Judges Steve Weisfeld and Chris Flores both scored the fight 118-107, while Tim Cheatham had it 117-108.
It was Barrios’ second straight win since being mired in a two-fight losing streak to Gervonta Davis and Keith Thurman.
“It was unbelievable,” said Barrios (28-2, 18 KOs). “All the work we put in out here in Las Vegas getting ready, it paid off. I was super excited and I’m blessed to be in this position.”
Barrios’ new title could become permanent if undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford moves up in weight. There is also a possibility of the 28-year-old from San Antonio moving in line for one of the belts held by Crawford, who was in attendance Saturday night.
What Crawford and the rest of the crowd witnessed was the tactician in Barrios taking Ugás apart round by round, knocking him down twice and shutting his surgically repaired right eye.
Barrios set the tone early when he caught Ugás with a quick left jab to the nose that sent him to the canvas.
“Early on he caught me with a nice liver shot that slowed me down a little bit,” Barrios said. “Once I settled down a little bit and found that quick little jab, that’s when I was able to start picking up the pace.”
Ugás, who was making his return after a 17-month absence and was listed as a -250 favorite at FanDuel just before the fight, fell to 27-6 in his career.
Ugás was hoping to put a loss to Erroll Spence, Jr. in his last fight behind him, a bout that saw him suffer a fractured right orbital in the 10th-round TKO loss. Instead, it may have revealed the end of his career.
Ugás, popularly known as the man who sent Manny Pacquiao into retirement in 2021, needed to have his right eye checked by Dr. David Watson before the start of the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds.
“It wasn’t about his eye, we’ve just been drilling using my jab more,” Barrios said. “I have the size advantage against most of the dudes I fight. I listened to my corner and tried to time the jab.”
Something he did well, landing 20.1% (107 of 533) of the jabs he threw, per CompuBox, compared to Ugás landing a mere 13.4% (36 of 268). Overall, Barrios landed 193 of the 810 punches thrown (23.8%) while Ugás landed 101 of 484 (20.9%).
The co-main event, a 12-round WBC/WBA super welterweight world title eliminator bout between rising 22-year-old star Jesus Ramos and Erickson Lubin, turned into a sleeper with very little action that turned an energetic crowd from the Barrios-Ugás fight into a gathering of boos and hisses by the 11th round.
The boos grew louder when ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced a unanimous decision in favor of Lubin (26-2, 18 KOs), who handed Ramos (20-1, 16 KOs) the first defeat of his career.
Judge Patricia Morse Jarman scored the fight 117-111, John McKaie had it 116-112, and Chris Migliore had the bout scored closest, 115-113.
It was a peculiar decision considering the final punch stats from CompuBox, which had Ramos landing 29.1% of his punches (145 of 499) and Lubin landing just 17.3% (92 of 532). Ramos also held an overwhelming edge with his power punches, landing 84 of 225 (37.3%) to Lubin’s 33 of 154 (21.4%).
In the first match of the main card, Elijah Garcia (16-0, 13 KOs) remained undefeated with an eighth-round TKO of Armando Resendiz (14-2, 10 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight bout.
Moments after dropping Resendiz with a sharp right-handed two-punch combo to the body and head, Garcia attacked with a flurry of punches in the corner, prompting referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight at the 1:23 mark of the eighth round.