ARLINGTON, Texas -- Errol Spence Jr. was dazed as he peered his eyes around the ring looking for his mouthpiece.
Yordenis Ugas sent it flying on Saturday after he connected with a brutal right hand in Round 6 before referee Laurence Cole slowly walked over to halt the action to allow Spence to retrieve the mouthpiece. That's when Ugas connected with a left hand followed by a right that sent the distracted Spence careening into the ropes for what could have been called a knockdown.
The series of events seemed only to reinvigorate Spence, who was fighting in front of his hometown fans at AT&T Stadium for the third time. He began to attack far more aggressively the following round and took control of the bout. The systematic beating he dispensed on Ugas slowly but surely completely closed the Cuban's right eye before the ringside doctor advised Cole to stop the fight at 1:44 of Round 10.
Mike Coppinger's round-by-round analysis
Round 9: Spence in total control now as he pushes forward and tries to grind Ugas out of there. Ugas will answer here and there but he can't see well from the right eye and it's clearly affecting him. 10-9, Spence. 87-84, Spence.
Round 8: Another huge round for Spence, who had Ugas in trouble again. This time, Cole gives the reprieve to Ugas; the ref stopped the action to allow the ringside doctor to examine Ugas' right eye, which is swollen shut. After nearly a minute, the doctor allowed the bout to continue. 10-9, Spence. 77-75, Spence.
Round 7: What a fight! Spence with a huge bounce-back round. He hurt Ugas with a left uppercut and poured punishment on. Ugas rallied late in the round with consecutive left hooks that met their mark. Ugas' right eye badly swollen shut. 10-9, Spence. 67-66, Spence.
Round 6: Wild round! Ugas hammers Spence with a right hand that sends his mouthpiece flying. Spence was hurt and looks for his mouthpiece while referee Laurence Cole was slow to step in. Spence, who wasn't paying attention, was crushed by two more punches that sent him crashing into the ropes. Ropes held him up and it should have been called a knockdown. 10-9, Ugas. 57-57.
Round 5: Spence far more aggressive now. He backed Ugas up rather than box from distance and landed a series of punishing shots on the inside, particularly a right uppercut. Ugas rallied during the final minute of the round. 10-9, Spence. 48-47, Spence.
Round 4: Not a ton of clean punching in that round with both fighters boxing from range. Spence outjabbing Ugas, who continues to fire right hands and dig to the body. 10-9, Spence. 38-38.
Round 3: Fight finally heats up with both Spence and Ugas throwing heavy shots. Ugas connects with two tremendous right hands late in the round to take a close frame. 10-9, Ugas. 29-28, Ugas.
Round 2: Spence far more busier, connected on a powerful overhand left late in the round. He also did well with his left jab to both, the body and head. 10-9, Spence. 19-19.
Round 1: Ugas patiently found openings, including a home for his left hook, which should be a key to this fight against the southpaw Spence. Feeling-out opening round goes to the underdog. 10-9, Ugas
Cruz KOs Gamboa in Round 5
The old champion needed one of two things to stay competitive -- a sturdy chin or younger legs.
Four knockdowns were proof that Yuriorkis Gamboa had neither. The ex-featherweight titlist tried to hang with Isaac Cruz but ultimately succumbed to Cruz's overwhelming intensity, resulting in a fifth-round stoppage.
Cruz (23-2-1, 15 KOs) forced referee Mark Calo-oy to mercifully save Gamboa from further punishment after Cruz smacked Gamboa with a looping right hook, scoring the fourth and final knockdown. A towel from Gamboa's corner came flying into the ring, just in case the need for a stoppage wasn't clear enough.
The second round captured why the fight would end only one way. After getting thumped in the previous round, Gamboa (30-5, 18 KOs) was effective from range, stinging Cruz from distance while maneuvering out of danger. It showed why Gamboa has had a storied career for nearly three minutes.
But all that good work was erased in the final 10 seconds of the round when Cruz knocked Gamboa down. From that moment, it was clear Gamboa didn't have the resources to beat Cruz.
I don't know what to say Isaac cruz other then I'm ready now we have a big fight at hand, I guess all Bark no bite??— RYAN GARCIA (@RyanGarcia) April 17, 2022
The reception Cruz received inside AT&T Stadium was proof of a stock he gained despite a close decision loss to Gervonta "Tank" Davis in December. Gamboa, meanwhile, suffered his third straight loss, a defeat that might have most fighters wondering if they should be in the ring anymore.
Valenzuela demolishes Vargas in Round 1
Saturday night's Spence-Ugas undercard was in desperate need of a big moment to inject some electricity into AT&T Stadium.
Jose Valenzuela delivered that with one punch -- a roundhouse left hook dropped Francisco Vargas in the first round for a KO victory in the first stoppage win on the televised portion of tonight's card.
Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs) looked primed for a big finish, even at the beginning of the first round. After narrowly missing on a big hook early, it seemed as if Valenzuela was going to connect with something dangerous.
The 22-year-old from Los Mochis, Mexico, was so excited after referee Mark Calo-oy waived his arms over Vargas that Valenzuela nearly cleared the turnbuckle while trying to leap the ropes in the corner. After Vargas got up, a cheeky grin seemed to acknowledge Valenzuela's skill in a verbal exchange between the fighters.
Crowley takes step forward with one-sided win over veteran Lopez
Cody Crowley took care of business against one of boxing's most durable veterans.
The undefeated Canadian kept his record spotless with a unanimous-decision victory over Josesito Lopez, 98-91, 99-90, 99-90. Crowley also scored a knockdown in the seventh round when a cuffing right hook sent Lopez to the canvas.
But perhaps the most interesting moment came in the postfight ring interview, when Crowley (21-0, 9 KOs) said he fought despite a tooth infection that didn't allow him to feel his face and a chest infection. In revealing that information, Crowley also took his time with the microphone to stump for better competition as he hopes to crack the list of top 10 welterweights.
Give Lopez (38-9, 21 KOs) a ton of credit. The "Riverside Rocky," who has given elite fighters good competition, even in losses, did his best to contend with Crowley. But the 37-year-old just couldn't keep up in the 10-round fight.
Stanionis outpunches Butaev to win title
Eimantas Stanionis closed his eyes, waited for the scorecards to be announced and hoped he had done enough to take a big step in his career.
The fast-rising Lithuanian got the result he needed. He defeated Radzhab Butaev via split decision, 116-111, 113-114, 117-110 to win the WBA "regular" welterweight title. In doing so, he showed that he is a legitimate contender in a strong division.
Stanionis was initially supposed to be the mandatory challenger for Yordenis Ugas' WBA top belt until he agreed to step aside so Ugas could face WBC and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. in a unified title fight.
Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs) had to weather a blistering body attack from Butaev (14-1, 11 KOs), who committed to throwing shots to his opponent's torso early in the 12-round fight. As the bout progressed, Stanionis appeared to slow down as the Russian's work rate remained steady.
But in the 11th and 12th rounds, Stanionis showed why he could be future champion. He connected on several scoring hooks that caught the crowd's attention. Stanionis also gained some extra cushion when referee Rafael Ramos docked Butaev a point in the 11th round for pushing Stanionis' head down. When the final scorecards were announced, that ended up being unneeded insurance.
Stanionis' accuracy also likely played a key role in the win. According to CompuBox, he connected on nearly 37% of his total punches. Meanwhile, Butaev landed just 6.2% of his jabs.
With the win, Stanionis positioned himself as the WBA No.1 challenger, and depending on how the rest of the 147-pound class shakes out in the coming months, he could be fighting for other titles as well.
Lee goes 10 rounds for the first time in his career
On paper, the undefeated Brandun Lee was the heaviest favorite of the night. A -3000 favorite at one point Saturday night, according to Caesars Sportsbook, Lee should have had a short night against Zachary Ochoa. But Lee was forced to earn a full paycheck in a unanimous decision win, 98-92, 99-91, 99-91.
Lee (25-0, 22 KOs), from La Quinta, California, was the superior fighter. But Lee found Ochoa elusive in the 24-foot ring. Ochoa (21-3, KOs) was willing to stay outside, and Lee couldn't corral the Brooklyn, New York, fighter when he had him on the ropes.
It was a tricky fight for Lee, who had the type of style designed to be entertaining. But Ochoa was game enough to keep Lee from taking unnecessary risks.
Mielnicki dominates Karpency in decision win
Junior middleweight prospect Vito Mielnicki won an easy unanimous decision over Dan Karpency with scorecards of 80-72, 79-73, 79-73. Mielnicki (11-1, 7 KOs) has been one of PBC's high-profile young prospects, having headlined a boxing card last Christmas.
Mielnicki, who has been looking to regain momentum in his career following an upset loss to James Martin last April, did enough to win easily on the cards. While Karpency (9-5-1, 4 KOs) did a good job of evading the Roseland, New Jersey, fighter from the outside, he couldn't do anything with that evasiveness. Mielnicki did his best work on the inside and racked up the rounds.
It will be interesting to see where Mielnicki goes from here. Karpency, who fights out of Adah, Pennsylvania, has now lost three straight, including a wipeout loss to elite prospect Xander Zayas last October. But at this point, any win is a good one for the 19-year-old Mielnicki.