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Pacquiao vs. Ugas: It’s still good to be Manny Pacquiao (update)

Written By | Aug 20, 2021

Manny Pacquiao (left) will face Yordenis Ugas Saturday in what could be the final fight in a remarkable career. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, August 19. 2021 – When eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (62-7-2, 39 KOs) steps into the ring Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena to face Yordenis Ugas of Santiago de Cuba via Miami (26-4, 12 KOs) for the WBA World Super Welterweight title, win or lose his legacy is assured.

Before the coronavirus pandemic got in the way, the boxing world watched in amazement to see the 40-year-old Fighting Senator knock down Keith Thurman and prevail with a unanimous decision two years ago.

Boxing, Pacquiao, Sports

Manny Pacquiao scores a first-round knockdown of Keith Thurman with a left hook. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

Cue the next jaw-dropper: Pacquiao booked his return fight against the formidable Errol Spence Jr.  Finally, boxing fans would get ONE exciting championship bout this summer between two legitimate stars.

But it’s boxing, and no one should make non-refundable travel plans. Spence Jr. bowed out due to a detached retina injury discovered during a required pre-fight physical. Yes, it’s real, not a duck or excuse.

Pacquiao merits our time and respect – and so does Ugas

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Manny Pacquiao and Yordenis Ugas respect each other but won’t let it stand in the way of winning the title on Saturday. Photo: Sean Michael Ham, Fox Sports

Would you rather have NO fight? Disappointment over what’s happened to Spence Jr. is understandable. But fans need to shake it off.  Everyone needs to thank Pacquiao for accepting the substitute without a fuss and Yordenis Ugas for bailing out the bout.

“Obviously, it is short notice that I learned I was fighting Pacquiao, but I’m thankful for the opportunity, and I’m ready to take advantage of it,” said Ugas. “There are no excuses heading into this fight. I’ve been in this position taking a short-notice fight before, although obviously never against a fighter the caliber of Pacquiao. I have no concerns, though.”

Pacquiao is a happy warrior with no loss of enthusiasm for his grueling sport.

“Boxing is my passion. That’s why I’m still here giving inspiration to the boxing fans and bringing honor to my country,” said the Senator. “I’m happy doing my job and working hard. I feel young right now. I enjoy training camp, and I’m excited to sacrifice and be disciplined every day to prepare for a fight like this.”

Freddie Roach still a PacMan fan

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Trainer Freddie Roach says Manny Pacquiao still trains as hard now as he did 20 years ago.Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach says very little has changed since a hungry young Filipino flyweight walked into his Los Angeles gym two decades plus ago. “His work ethic today is as good as it was 20 years ago. He’s been unbelievable in training and sparring for this fight.”

Pacquiao reportedly dropped a sparring partner to the canvas during training, which Roach confirms. “I don’t know if it was a bigger confidence boost for me or Manny, but I’m expecting this fight to end in a knockout the way he’s been looking.”

Pacquiao says he’s been rolling up 30 rounds daily prepping for Ugas. He still does roadwork up the Hollywood hills, greeting fans who wait for him at the end of his route in Griffith Park. Pacquiao loves a crowd, which has been in short supply due to the pandemic.

Ismael Salas: Ugas fighting for pride

Boxing, Pacquiao, Sports

Yordenis Ugas brings his amateur pedigree and immigrant’s drive to Saturday’s fight. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

Trainer Ismael Salas, who has trained Ugas since 2016, says Ugas will rely on his Olympic and amateur experience.

“To fight Manny Pacquiao is an honor. To me, he’s a legend and a person who is an inspiration for millions of fighters,” said Salas. “But when you look back at his recent fights, he hasn’t delivered a knockout in a long time. He’s dropped guys, but it’s been a while since he’s knocked someone out.

“Pacquiao comes from a lot of angles, but so does Ugas. Ugas has mastered fighting southpaws, so we’ll see who is going to be able to see their opponent’s punches coming.”

Pacquiao vs Ugas: Tale of the Tape

That a 42-year-old who’s fought 486 rounds is considered competitive against a 35-year-old who’s fought 196 rounds and who holds the WBA Super World Welterweight title which was handed over to him in another head-scratching move by the WBA, which stripped Pacquiao of  the title he won from Keith  Thurman due to “inactivity,” making him the champion in recess. Whatever happens Saturday, the championship returns to the man who earns it this time.

Both men are physically prepared and have the skills to win Saturday. Age will be a factor in Saturday’s upcoming fight, but other factors make age irrelevant.

Pacquiao’s career greatness’ over two centuries and three decades are undeniable. His speed, footwork, and ability to land punches accurately from unexpected angles with power have always made him dangerous. Fortunately, his reckless moments are fewer with age, as when  Juan Manuel Marquez caught Pacquiao with the counterpunch of all time, knocking Pacquiao out cold in 2012.

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Juan Manuel Marquez delivered one of boxing’s most shocking knockouts of Manny Pacquiao in 2012. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO

Even a slowed down, less powerful Pacquiao is still the faster, busier man in the ring against all but the most elite fighters. Against Errol Spence Jr., he would be competitive, but perhaps it wouldn’t have been enough.

Ugas doesn’t have raw power. His few wins by stoppage have come through accumulated punches. He hasn’t scored a pure knockout win since 2013; his last TKO came in 2018 against a fighter with an 18 and 13 record. What Ugas does have is sound fundamentals, a stiff jab, and excellent conditioning.

“I’m here to wreck any plans Manny Pacquiao has in the ring and make sure that Saturday is his last fight,” said Ugas at the final pre-fight news conference.

Yordenis Ugas (left) won every minute of every round against Omar Figueroa, handing him his first loss Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

“I didn’t like that someone took my belt without challenging me in the ring. Both of us are champions, but we’ll see who has the belt after Saturday,” said Pacquiao.

“If there’s a chance for a knockout, then I’ll go for it because that’s what I want to give to the fans. I’m not underestimating Ugas, though. He has a lot of experience in boxing and fought in the Olympics. I know I have to be very good to win this fight,” added Pacquiao.

Prediction: The champ is here 

Yordenis Ugas currently holds the WBA Super Welterweight title, but it was taken from Manny Pacquiao due to "inactivity." He wants it back. Photo: Sean Michael Ham, Fox Sports

Yordenis Ugas currently holds the WBA Super Welterweight title, but it was taken from Manny Pacquiao due to “inactivity.” He wants it back. Photo: Sean Michael Ham, Fox Sports

Ugas has a chance to beat Pacquiao, but he will have to be determined to wear the older man done by staying busy and never letting up. If the the35-year-old can encourage the 42-year-old Pacquiao to empty the tank in the first half of the fight, he may get lucky. But he will need help from the judges to see it his way. Ugas’s performance won’t be as flashy or draw a crowd reaction like Pacquiao. For the record, the judge are Patricia Morse Jarman, Dave Moretti, and Steve Weisfeld. The referee is Russell Mora.

Pacquiao can roll up round after round on the scorecards by staying busy, fast, and elusive. He can win by delivering the type of fight he delivered against Keith Thurman and could have won against Floyd Mayweather if he had been physically capable of doing so. This time, he is.

We see Manny Pacquiao winning the fight by going the distance, avoiding any one-time threats, and prevailing by a unanimous decision over Yordenis Ugas Saturday. The next time he’s on American television, it may be as President of the Philippines.

The PPV elephant in the room

If you knew this would be Manny Pacquiao’s final fight, wouldn’t you be motivated to watch him? Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

If you’re less than enthused about Pacquiao vs. Ugas, consider this: It may well be your last opportunity to see a once-in-a-lifetime boxing talent step into the ring.

“I never imagined what I would have accomplished in boxing from the beginning of my career leading up to now. I went from nothing to something in order to be an inspiration for people both inside and outside of the ring. This is going to be a good action fight, and I’m going to do my best Saturday night because I love to make the fans happy,” said Pacquiao this week.

“This could be my last fight, or there could be more. I’m turning 43 in December, and my plan has always been to just go one fight at a time. I encourage the fans all over the world to watch this fight because you never know.” And let us repeat: He’s likely running for President of his country. Do we think for a second the Philippines equivalent of the Secret Service is going to let him participate in a prizefight while in office?

Father Time is chasing Manny Pacquiao down. He won’t be in the ring much longer. Fans don’t realize how much they will miss him. Out of respect for his accomplishments, consider carefully whether you really want to miss seeing Pacquiao on Saturday.

It’s still good to be Manny Pacquiao. It’s still fun and still reasonable to be a Manny Pacquiao fan in 2021.

So don’t fight it. Get some vaxxed family and friends together, divide the $75 among you. Or be a mensch and treat some people who have been good to you to a show. These days, Senator Manny Pacquiao is all about enjoying himself and giving back to the people at home. It’s a fine example to follow.

Pacquiao vs. Ugas airs on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View Saturday, August 19, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with the main card starting at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.

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.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.