Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugás, who defeated the legendary Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao in August to retain the welterweight title of the World Boxing Association (WBA), received the keys to the city of Miami on Tuesday from the hands of the mayor, Francis Suarez, also of Cuban origin.
“I know that this award is more for my position in favor of the freedom of Cuba than for being a champion. Many can be champions, but the important thing is to fight like a champion for my country and for my people in the ring and in life,” said Ugás, 35, after receiving the keys.
Suarez, for his part, showed the boxer his respect and gratitude for having put “the Cuban situation” ahead of his triumph. “That you took advantage of your platform (to express yourself in that sense) says a lot about the human being you are,” the alderman told the champion.
“This key makes you champion of Miami forever,” Suarez said.
On his Facebook account, the mayor also had words of gratitude for the Cuban boxer: “A champion in the ring and a champion of human rights in Cuba. Thank you for all you do for #PatriayVida Yordenis Ugás,” he wrote.
The 12-round bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was an exhibition by Ugás, an Olympic bronze medalist, who overcame Pacquiao, 42, with his intelligent and technical boxing and retained the WBA welterweight title.
Ugás jumped into the ring to the rhythm of the song “Patria y Vida” (the anthem of social protests in Cuba), a phrase he uttered at several points.
“This is not ‘Patria o muerte’, this is ‘Patria y Vida'”, reaffirmed the Cuban after his victory, according to the newspaper El Nuevo Herald.
Ugás defected from Cuba two years after winning a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.