Bill Khabiba, but not that one. Who will Manny Pacquiao fight with after a two-year hiatus
On the night of August 21-22, a professional boxing tournament will be held in Las Vegas (Nevada, USA), the main event of which will feature the former world champion in eight weight categories, the legendary Manny Pacquiao and the WBA Super welterweight world champion Yordenis Ugas . At stake will be the aforementioned WBA superchampion belt. All the most important things about the upcoming fight are in our review.
How the sides came to fight Pacquiao – Ugas
Manny Pacquiao hasn’t competed since July 2019. His return to the ring was hampered by injuries, political activities, and the coronavirus pandemic. Many already believed that the Filipino would not even return to the ring. These suspicions intensified especially when the WBA management stripped Manny of the title of full-fledged world champion and awarded him the “champion on vacation” belt. All the more unexpected was the news of the return of Pacquiao in May. And not just about his return, but about his fight with one of the leaders of the Pound-for-Pound, IBF and WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence… Then many thought that Manny was taking too much risk. Indeed, even in the best years of the Filipino, a skilled American would give him at least a good fight (even if he had not won), but now, when Pacquiao is 42, it was obvious that Pacman would be an outsider in the confrontation.
But in the end, this fight was not destined to come true. Just two weeks before it was held, Errol abandoned it. The reason was the retinal detachment diagnosed in the boxer, which required immediate surgical intervention.
But the organizers managed to save the fight for Pacquiao. The WBA Super World Champion Yordenis Ugas was immediately picked up as his rivals. The Cuban was supposed to play on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Spence bout, so he shouldn’t have had any problems with getting in shape.
Who is Ugas?
Yordenis Ugas is a typical representative of the Cuban boxing school. A superbly trained techie who knows how to do almost anything in the ring. He has a great amateur career under his belt. At the age of 19, he became world champion. At the competitions in the Chinese Mianyang, he went like a skating rink on the tournament grid. In the semifinals, Yordenis literally defeated Khabib Allahverdiev (the future world champion in the pro), and in the final he confidently dealt with the representative of Azerbaijan, Ramal Amanov . So in the Cuban’s career there is even a victory over the Russian Khabib, albeit not the one with whom many people associate martial arts.
In 2006, Ugas won gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games, and in 2007 he became the champion of the Pan American Games. In the same 2007, Yordenis could defend the world title, but the Cuban government, for political reasons, did not send its national team to the tournament in Chicago. Be that as it may, in 2008 the boxer went to the first Olympic Games in his career. In Beijing, Ugas won bronze. For another Olympic cycle, Yordenis did not have enough patience. In 2010, he made his professional debut and began building a career in the United States.
In the pros, everything started out typically – a few striking victories, obtained on a “bag” diet. And after that – the gradual growth of the opposition. Already in the 12th fight in his career, Ugas unexpectedly lost, unable to cope with the unbeaten Johnny Garcia. Then there were four wins in a row. It seemed like the 2012 misfire was just a misunderstanding. But after a series of victories, Ugas lost again, and twice in a row.
It was thought that on this Yordenis could put an end to the hopes of achieving something serious. Over time, these sensations only intensified, because Ugas had not fought for more than two years. But in 2016, the Cuban returned and began churning out victories one after another. Bringing a successful streak to eight bouts, the boxer received the long-awaited title fight. In March 2019, he faced WBC welterweight champion, unyielding and always aggressive Sean Porter. This was the first truly top contender in Ugas’ professional career. But Yordenis did not flinch. Sean’s constant pressure did not bother him in the least. The Cuban did his job perfectly, but in the end, the judges counted Porter’s victory by split decision. The decision was controversial enough. Some regarded it as an outright robbery of Ugas.
Nevertheless, the Cuban did not give up. With two victories in the following fights, in September 2020, he got the chance to compete for the WBA Regular welterweight title. Abel Ramos became his rival.
The latter unexpectedly rested and gave the Cuban a good fight, but still lost by split decision. Thus, Ugas became the world champion with the prefix “regular”.
Already in January 2021, Pacquiao was stripped of his WBA Super World Championship title. This belt was inherited by Ugas. The consequence of such perturbations was that Yordenis became the “super champion” even without a fight. Now is the time to defend this regalia.
How is Pacquiao doing?
In July 2019, Manny Pacquiao defeated Keith Thurman. Then he took away the WBA Super welterweight title from him and became the oldest champion in the history of this division. It seemed that at 40 years and 6 months it would be possible to end a career, because leaving would be more than beautiful. But Manny made it clear that he will perform again.
For a long time, there were rumors that he was one of the main contenders for a cross-fight with ex-UFC champion in two weight classes Conor McGregor, in addition there were talks about other rivals. But various factors prevented him from returning to the ring. As a result, as mentioned above, he was stripped of his title and received the status of “champion on vacation”. Now Pacquiao has every chance to return the title of full-fledged world champion.
What to expect from the fight?
Pacquiao is the favorite of the bout. This is the opinion of both experts and bookmakers. But still, not everything is so simple. Primarily due to the long downtime of the Filipino. It is completely incomprehensible how he was affected by a pause of more than two years. Obviously, during this time he did not gain, but how much he lost is a question. A break of two years has a bad effect on any boxer, and even more so on an age one. Reflexes, reactions, speed – all of this fades over time. What Manny will show in this regard is a question.
But you still need to dance from the capabilities of the Cuban. Yordenis always boxed at a ragged pace and did not show an equally cool fight over the course of 10-12 rounds. With an opponent of Pacquiao’s caliber, albeit an older one, Ugas will have the same problems. So if Manny did pass, it won’t be easy for the Cuban anyway.
The experience and superiority of Pacquiao in the class will be the main weapon of the Filipino. Ugas will count on superiority in size (however, Pacquiao beat much larger rivals) and age. Whose will it take in the end? We believe that Manny will break the record for the oldest welterweight champion, but he will do it with great difficulty and only by decision of the judges. However, it cannot be ruled out that the Cuban, clearly underestimated over the years of his career, can ruin Pacquiao’s career finale, he has enough skill for this. But whether it will be so in reality only the ring will show. It won’t be long to wait.