History lesson: Yordenis Ugas defeats Manny Pacquiao Saturday
LAS VEGAS, Nevada, August 21, 2021 – The only calm person as the opening bell sounded at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Saturday was 42-year-old Manny Pacquiao. At the end of 12 hard rounds, Pacquiao accepted his defeat by late replacement Yordenis Ugas of Cuba with equal grace.
Yordenis Ugas of Santiago de Cuba via Miami (27-4, 12 KOs) proved utterly worthy of the WBA World Welterweight title handed to him, winning with superior punch selection and brilliant position in the ring. Ugas kept a slowed down Pacquiao (67-8-2, 39 KOs) at an ineffective distance while he unloaded a pretty jab and a right hand to head and body that couldn’t miss.
Credit where it’s due: judges Dave Moretti, Steve Weisfeld, and Patricia Morse Jarman got it right., Ugas took the unanimous decision by scores of 116-112 X 2 (Moretti and Weisfeld) and 115-113 (Jarman). We scored it 117-111 for Ugas.
“I’m emotional, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in the ring today,” said Ugas. “I told you, I am the champion of the WBA, and tonight I proved it.
“He’s a great competitor,” added Ugas. “But I came in here to show I am the champion of the WBA. Great respect to him, but I won the fight.”
A somber Pacquiao took the defeat as he has throughout his remarkable career, giving credit to his opponent while owning his performance – and perhaps admitting to feeling his age.
“I’m, uh, making a hard time in the ring, making adjustments about his body style. I think that’s the problem for me,” said Pacquiao. “I didn’t make adjustments right away, and also, my legs were tight. My legs are so tight, it’s hard to move.”
Scores for the bout were all over the map from boxing media scoring the fight. For anyone unsure of how the fight was progressing, all you needed to was look at Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee. From the middle rounds on, her dismay and disappointment in what she knew would be the outcome told the story.
Opportunity knocks – Yordenis Ugas answers
Yordenis Ugas took the fight on just 10 days’ notice after Errol Spence Jr. withdrew due to injury. It meant Ugas avoided a long build-up under the spotlight, including weeks of media attention and promotional obligations. It was ultimately to his benefit.
Trainer Ismael Salas designed the perfect game plan, and Ugas didn’t let the moment’s pressure rattle him. He used his size and reach and the boxing skills honed in a fine amateur and Olympic career. First, he kept Pacquiao from getting inside. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said the range of Ugas was a big factor in the fight.
But as we saw with another skilled Cuban last week, a win at this level also demands offensive output. Ugas worked with the lead double jab, finding success with a right hook around the guard of Pacquiao to the head and catching Pacquiao with counter shots to the body.
“That was the lead punch, that double jab. We only had two weeks of training. But I listened to my corner, and it worked out,” said Ugas. His confidence grew as Pacquiao struggled unsuccessfully to get inside where he could do damage. As the 42-year-old Filipino slowed down, the last third of the fight was all Ugas.
Father Time gave Ugas an assist, but Pacquiao’s age wasn’t the reason he won. Ugas landed the harder, more effective punches, and more of them. Ugas landed 151 of 405 punches thrown (37.3%), with 34 body shots. Pacquiao landed 130 of 815 punches thrown (16%), with just six body shots.
Unification for Ugas – Presidency for PacMan?
Ugas says unification of the welterweight division is now his goal. Asking about the man he replaced, Errol Spence Jr., Ugas said, “He’s the next one on the list I want to fight. But most of all, I am praying he recuperates.” Ugas saluted his fans and said he fought for Cuba’s freedom and for life.
Whether Pacquiao ever enters a boxing ring again, his legacy is assured. Pacquiao’s career greatness over two centuries and three decades cannot be denied. If any record stands the test of time, it will be Pacquiao’s standing as an eight-division champion who fought every formidable opponent available. His evident joy in pursuing boxing and his rise from a starving street urchin to the opportunity to run for President of his country is so improbably no screenwriter could imagine it.
The Fighting Senator representing Sarangani Province must now make a much more difficult decision about entering the presidential race. He said he would make an announcement next month.
“I know I’m facing a big problem and more difficult work than boxing. But I want to help the people, I want to help them,” said Pacquiao.
“To all the fans, I hope in my more than 20 years in boxing, I make you enjoyment and happiness in my career. That’s boxing. I congratulate my opponent, Yordenis Ugas, for making a tough fight tonight and winning tonight. That’s boxing. Let’s face another tomorrow again.”
No one needs to cry for Manny Pacquiao. He smiled as he exited the T-Mobile Arena. Although he lost a fight, he’s a winner in every way that counts. To quote the philosopher, Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Undercard results: Guerero edges Ortiz in throwback bout
All three fights on the PPV undercard served up toe to toe action with multiple knockdowns.
Headbutts marred a fight between veterans Robert Guerrero of Gilroy, California (37-6-1, 20 Kos) and Victor Ortiz of Ventura, California (32-7-3, 25 KOs). Guerrero did just enough to win by scores of 96-94 on all three scorecards. Guerrero was the busier and more effective fighter by just a shade over Ortiz to win.
The battle of veteran southpaws was boxing’s version of a 2004 TV series reboot. The idea sounded a lot better in theory than it turned out. Midway through the fight, Guerrero’s left eye was completely swollen shut. The veteran pair ground it out at phone booth range. There was plenty of effort but few thrills. The crowd filling the seats for the main event began to boo the pair at the end of eight rounds. Thank goodness it was only a 10-round fight. It’s hard to imagine where either man intends to go from here.
Magsayo thrills Filipino fans with a KOTY
Pacquiao protégé Mark Magsayo of the Philippines (23-0, 16 KOs) destroyed Julio Ceja of Mexico (25-5-1, 28 KOs) with a blistering knockout combination at 50 seconds of the tenth round. Magsayo had to walk through fire first in a roller coaster of a fight. Magsayo scored a knockdown with a crisp left within the first few seconds of the fight.
Ceja gathered his wits and listened to trainer Ismael Salas’s instructions to target Magsayo to the body. The body attack slowed Magsayo down, and Ceja turned the tables with his own left hook knockdown of Magsayo in the fifth round. Who would dig deep enough to win? It turned out to be Magsayo, who threw a left hook that missed but landed a straight right on the money, capped by a right hook to drop Ceja out cold. The victory thrilled the Filipino fans in Las Vegas.
Whether Magsayo would fare as well against the other top featherweights such as Emanuel Navarrete, Kid Galahad or even Mauricio Lara, it will be fun to watch him try. He is the only featherweight rated in the top 20 without a defeat. How about a World Boxing Super Series tournament in the featherweight division?
Castro wears down Escandon
Carlos Castro of Phoenix (27-0, 12 KOs) wore down a determined Oscar Escandon of Colombia (26-6, 18 KOs), but the 37-year-old veteran made Castro work hard for the 12th round knockout victory. Castro dropped Escandon in the seventh round, and it seemed the fight was over. Credit Escandon for refusing to give up, coming back, and battering Castro before the 27-year-old caught his opponent in the final round. Escandon got to his feet but wobbled and took a knee as referee Celestino Ruiz administered the count. Castro gets the KO at 1:08 of the 12th round.
Based in San Diego, California, Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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