Written by Tré Berry III | 08/22/2021
The crowd at the T-Mobile Arena was electric, as a large contingent of Filipino fans were in the crowd, and a group of proud Cubans cheering heavily for their man. In a sense, this is a “deja vu” type of a situation for 🇵🇭Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39KO), who made his worldly introduction against Lehlo Ledwaba by taking the fight on 2-weeks notice, and showing out. A similar situation just unfolded, but the difference was…..that the fighter taking the bout on short notice was the reigning WBA Welterweight world titlist in Cuba’s 🇨🇺Yordenis Ugas (27-4-0, 12KO), and he has showed the world what he is capable of doing at high levels when given the opportunity.
Manny’s handspeed was there, but his legs were stagnant, as he couldn’t step to the sides consistently enough to take the angles, and get out of the range where Ugas likes to operate at best, that being right up the middle, as he is a very linear fighter. With this victory, Yordenis Ugas cleared up the confusing (and somewhat embarrassing) WBA conundrum, as he took out the competition that used to be the possessor of that belt prior to him before he was stripped.
This was officially Ugas’s first title defense since being elevated to the WBA’s Chief representative, and he made it clear that he wants a coveted Unification Title Match with unified WBC/IBF Welterweight Titlist 🇺🇸Errol Spence Jr. – also wishing him well on his recovery after retinal surgery in what would be considered a classy callout.
As for Manny Pacquiao, he was fully gracious in defeat, and gave heartfelt thanks to all those in attendance, and fans around the world for always supporting him through thick and thin. Naturally the question was asked to him “will you retire“ Manny didn’t outright answer it, stating that he needs some time to sit down, and think about whether he wants to keep going, or to officially hang the gloves up.
The question also arose about his prospects in running for President in the Philippines, and he stated that will be a decision for later this year, which also has a stake in his boxing career, as the two are intertwined regarding his future.
THE BREAKDOWN OF YORDENIS UGAS VS. MANNY PACQUIAO FROM LAST NIGHT
There wasn’t much of a feel out process between the two boxers, particularly for Manny, who probed forward, to deliver a few of his patented unorthodox combinations, finding some success also with the straight left hand.
Ugas made it known early that his focal point was to target the body, and get the jab going. Ugas had a fantastic 2nd round delivering a steady dose of jabs with different speed on them, and getting his counter right hand activated, which was thwarting some of Manny’s pursuit for the bulk of the round.
The action really began to pick up by the 3rd frame, with Pacquiao finally getting some of his combinations between the gloves and knocking Ugas off balanced into the ropes. Yordenis rebounded very well with a combination of his own, and certainly got the respect of the Filipino boxing legend, as he used his range very impressively, and relied heavily on his penchant for timing, accuracy and prowess.
Ugas by round 4 developed a firm command behind his stubborn cage of a defense, thwarting Manny’s lengthy combinations, and picking off a good percentage of his check-right hooks, while Ugas landed a couple of firm right hands, and controlled distance with the jab – a power jab at that.
Though Ugas still personally had a good 5th round in my view, Pacquiao’s increased volume punching from Pac was beginning to cause him some problems, keeping him in the cage at times while Manny throw 4, 5 punches, getting the first 3 blocked, just to get the last 2 punches to fit in.
Round 6, Ugas did a better job reasserting his position, and Pacquiao decided to make a tactical change by bouncing on the backfoot to make Ugas step in, so that he could counter the counterpuncher, but Ugas was well trained to see what was taking place, and stood his ground instead of unnecessarily pushing forward to open up for the power to land.
Now fast forward to the 8th round, Ugas had his best moments up to that point in the fight, opening up his offense in the last 30 seconds of the stanza, and catching Pacquiao coming in with a diverse array of power shots. Ugas money punch from the mid portion of the fight on, was the sweeping right hand, to get around Manny’s set defense whenever Pacquiao expected Ugas to shoot the straight right hand.
Surprisingly, Manny and crew made no effort to adjust to the arcing right hand at all, and even though that shouldn’t be landed from distance, Ugas range made it possible over and over again to sneak it behind Manny’s guard. Manny had pockets of success here and there in the latter stages, but it wasn’t the type of sustained action that put any added pressure on the Cuban, as his ring-generalship largely botted up the Pacquiao offensive freight-train. Manny’s legs weren’t there, so he was a sitting duck for Ugas straight lined attack.
Perhaps that is a sign of Manny’s age at 42 years old, it is highly likely, because if you look at the 🇺🇸Keith Thurman fight, that is the one difference you’ll pick up immediately. Ugas held his own down the stretch, and even though he wasn’t nearly as active as Pac-Man, his defensive success, and accuracy was more than enough to tack on the points, and stake claim once the final bell sounded.
Ugas right away appeared to know that he did enough to win the fight, and rejoiced in his efforts. Judging has produced fleety results before, so there was no telling which way they would go. The fight was ruled a Unanimous Decision, and Yordenis Ugas picked up the win of his life in defeating a legend, and putting forth his signature performance to date.
I want to take some time out to highlight Ismail Salas, who is Ugas Head-Treainerrai, and trains countless others – over time, he was further proven his greatness, and in my view, has cemented himself as one of the 3 best Head-Trainers in the world. The legend continues for the Cuban trainer.
As stated above, Manny Pacquiao does not know at this juncture whether he will retire after 26 years in the sport, or if he will be set to ride off in the sunset. After taking some personal, and family time, he will make a decision on both his boxing career, and whether he’ll fully embark on a Presidential run in his home country of the Philippines.
With that being said, if this is really the final time that we ever see Manny Pacquiao in a boxing ring…then it is a sad, sad day for the sport. Manny represents a true underdog, who defeated all of the odds, and became not just a boxing Champ, but a Champion of the people, who represents far more than just fisticuffs. He’s the role model boxing needs, and what society needs more of. Salute to him…whether in victory or defeat, you have to be thankful for what he has provided.
UGAS VS. PACQUIAO – FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS