Tomorrow nigh on FOX PPV Manny Pacquiao enters the ring against Cuban Yordenis Ugas in an effort to win a welterweight title belt for the fifth time in his career. Originally slated to face Errol Spence Jr. in arguably the most significant and anticipated bout of the year this has been arranged on short notice. Spence suffered a torn retina which is a serious injury that a lot of shitty people are accusing Spence of ducking the fight. I do not subscribe to these horrible conspiracy theories and do not stand with the level of disrespect being hurled Spence’s way. That said despite the disappointment regarding the switch of opponents I think Yordenis Ugas presents a real threat.
When Manny Pacquiao enters the ring at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas he will be 42 years old And 2 years removed from his last fight against Keith Thurman. Yordenis Ugas will be entering as a champion in a big fight at 35 years old with the opportunity to make a massive statement behind a great run since 2016 going 11-1 and in my view defeated Shawn Porter. He should have been a champion 2 years ago. This fight is intriguing because of the layoff and the switch of opponents and not really knowing what Ugas’ ceiling is. Ugas was very impressive against Shawn Porter boxing well and having a good tight defense moving well and though he doesn’t have knock out power with only 14 knockouts in his 26 victories. He has the kind of power to stifle an opponent make them think twice about rushing in and he has the ability to turn the tide of the fight with his right hand. I am certain that if this was 2010 or 2011 Manny Pacquiao would overwhelm Ugas much like he did against Joshua Clottey and Antonio margarito with activity and punches from numerous angles.
What does the layoff mean in this fight? There have been a lot of interesting results in boxing since covid started but I think boxers and camps have started to adjust to the changes. As guidelines have loosened I think it’s easier to have a good camp whereas before there were some obstacles. Manny Pacquiao won his fight with Thurman with grit and experience and as I highlighted in my other article he took the fight to the trenches. Manny stood in with Thurman a little more than you’d expect an aging fighter whose naturally smaller to do. I think that Ugas Is in a better place right now than Thurman was entering their fight though Ugas is older than Thurman was.
I think Ugas is closer to his prime and at his best right now. He’s been very consistent for a long time now and always shows up in shape. As a well schooled boxer I think this fight comes down to 2 things: What does Manny Pacquiao have left in the tank and how does Ugas execute his game plan. I think Thurman had his success later in the fight when Manny slowed down and when he was able to back pacquiao up. Ugas has a lot of the physical qualities that Thurman has but I’m not sure if hes going to be able to execute a better fight. He’s a smart boxer at his best but I’m not sure if he can force the type of fight that it takes to beat Manny Pacquiao. Thurman lost because he was not able to keep up with Pacquiao in a firefight and was not able to match the offensive capabilities that Manny had. Even when he did land his best punches he was unable to do enough damage to deter Manny or change the fight drastically. I don’t think Ugas has the type of power or the ability to go to war that is required to beat Manny Pacquiao. This this also comes from a standpoint of assuming Pacquiao’s on the same form that he was 2 years ago as many times you’ve seen great fighters get old from one fight to the next. And then there’s been a slight decline in Pacquiao ever since the Mayweather fight as he seemed to get a little slower in each contest. That said Pacquiao has dropped all but two of his opponents since Mayweather and had Jeff Horn on the verge in round nine. In fact most feel he hasn’t lost since that massive fight.
As for my prediction I am expecting a close decision victory for Manny Pacquiao. Much like Ring Magazine writer Michael Montero I think That Pacquiao will be dangerous early and while Ugas is adjusting To Pacquaio’s style There’s a good chance he may wind up on the canvas. But as the fight draws out He is going to score more and pull the fight closer. I’m thinking it’s going to be a 115 to 113 or 116 to 112 type of fight.