Wrestling & MMA

The welterweights’ impact on boxing will be showcased when these two fight for belt

Pacquiao KOs Matthysse to reach 60 wins.

Manny Pacquiao scores his 60th victory in the seventh round over the Argentine Lucas Matthysse.
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Manny Pacquiao scores his 60th victory in the seventh round over the Argentine Lucas Matthysse.

Unbeaten champions Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman personify the evident star power in the welterweight division.

But the welterweights aren’t just a top heavy class. Not lost in the equation is Manny Pacquiao, who recently claimed a second-tier welterweight belt. As a result, the division features arguably boxing’s deepest talent.

Before an elbow injury that has sidelined him for more than a year, Thurman won close decisions over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter as the two bouts further exemplified an obvious clout in the division.

The welterweights’ impact will be showcased again Sept. 8, when Garcia and Porter fight for a vacant sanctioning body belt at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Winning a title is always special but beating Danny Garcia for it will be icing on the cake,” Porter said. “He’s been a top fighter for a long time and this win will help solidify me. Once I have the belt, the sky’s the limit.”

Porter had a nine-month reign as welterweight champion before losing his belt against Kell Brook in 2014. Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) has won four of five bouts since the loss to Brook — the lone defeat against Thurman two years ago.

“To beat Danny Garcia you have to use your whole arsenal, especially beating him in the fashion we want to beat him,” Porter said. “We want to look great.”

Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) will have a second attempt at a welterweight belt in his fight against Porter. After a successful five-bout run as 140-pound champion, Garcia ascended to welterweight and ran off five successive wins in the new weight class before the close loss to Thurman in March 2017.

“I’m excited for this fight because I’m a world championship level fighter and this gives me the chance to be where I’ve been for so long,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. I’m just happy to be back and fighting for the title.

“The loss against Keith Thurman hurt me for a little bit. I thought I finished strong and won. At the end of the day, though, I feel motivated again. I feel more motivated now than I did before the [Thurman] fight. There’s something different inside of me.”

Miami resident Yordenis Ugas also seeks relevance in the talented welterweight class and he will have an opportunity on the Garcia-Porter undercard.

A native of Cuba, Ugas (22-3, 11 KOs) will face Argentina’s Cesar Barrionuevo in a scheduled 10-round bout.

“It will be a great day for boxing — Porter and Garcia are two of the best fighters in the sport — and it is an honor to be part of the event,” Ugas said.

After consecutive losses in 2014, Ugas has responded with seven successive victories. Two of Ugas’ wins were against previously unbeaten prospects Bryant Perella and Jamal James.

“I take on all challenges and that has taken me where I am now,” Ugas said. “Some people can emerge from the amateurs tomorrow and fight for a championship right away. I have moved up the hard way against solid opposition.”

IBF Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr. grew up in Cedar Hill loving football and the Dallas Cowboys. Now he just wants to dazzle in front of friends and family in his first home title defense Saturday night at the Ford Center in Frisco.

Coming up

Friday (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1): Jamal James vs. Mahonry Montes, 10, welterweights.

Saturday (10:30 p.m., ESPN): Raymundo Beltran vs. Jose Pedraza, 12, for Beltran’s WBO lightweight title.

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