By: Hans Themistode
Like many in the boxing world, Ismael Salas grabbed a seat near his television set, reclined comfortably, and watched carefully as Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia traded blows in the center of the ring in December of 2020.
Roughly one year prior, it seemed incredibly unlikely that the Dallas native would survive his horrific car wreck, let alone box again. In September of 2019, Spence Jr. successfully truncated the world title reign of Shawn Porter, winning his WBC title in Los Angeles, California’s Staples Center.
Although the newly turned 32-year-old was ecstatic over the win, he was violently knocked off his high horse as he was flung from his sports vehicle in October of 2019, during a mind-numbing crash.
Despite the jaw-dropping videos that were released, Spence Jr. suffered only facial abrasions, along with a few broken teeth, and minimal injuries. In total, Spence Jr. would spend just over a year in the recovery room before taking on Garcia, a former two-division world titlist.
With the anticipation at its highest, Salas watched every second of every round meticulously. Though Spence Jr. would go on to win a wide decision on the night, Salas placed his hand on his chin as he began pondering what he just witnessed. After diving into Spence Jr.’s performance even further, Salas believes that he is no longer the same ferocious fighter that he once was. Even now, almost a year and a half later, Salas is unable to pinpoint the missing ingredient in the unified welterweight champions game.
“In my personal view, that’s nothing to take away from him but he was not the same guy who fought with Shawn Porter to the same guy who fought with Danny Garcia,” explained Salas to a group of reporters. “Something missing. He was missing something there. For the reason? I don’t know. Maybe the fire, maybe it can be the weight. Many reasons.”
The disappointment on the face of Salas was immediately wiped away as he re-focused his attention on WBA champion, Yordenis Ugas. With the pair set to square off on April 16th, at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, Salas works diligently with Ugas as they’ll attempt to strip Spence Jr. of his championship status.
Ugas, of course, rose to prominence following his unlikely win against Manny Pacquiao in August of 2021. Ironically enough, Ugas was given the call once Spence Jr. was forced to withdraw due to a detached retina that subsequently led to surgery.
While Salas believes that Ugas will be successful in his bid to become a unified champion, when asked if he believes Spence Jr. will be his old self come fight night, Salas responds despondently.
“We hope so, we hope so.”