Returning Pacquiao takes on Ugas in WBA title clash

FILIPINO boxing legend Manny Pacquiao takes on Cuban Yordenis Ugas in a WBA welterweight title fight on Sunday (Manila time). (One Sports Facebook page/Wendell Alinea/MP Promotions)

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

FILIPINO eight-division world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao collides with reigning World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas of Cuba in a much-awaited ring return by the former where he is installed as a favorite.

Slated for Sunday, Aug. 22 (Manila time) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Mr. Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) battles Mr. Ugas in a scheduled 12-rounder, his first fight in two years.

Mr. Pacquiao, 42, last fought in July 2019 where he defeated American Keith Thurman by split decision for the WBA super welterweight title, which was given to Mr. Ugas early this year with the Filipino champion rendered “champion in recess.”

But Mr. Ugas is a late replacement opponent after original Pacquiao opponent Errol Spence Jr. had to pull out last week because of an eye injury.

Fight analyst Nissi Icasiano shared that while Mr. Ugas has some things going for him, it is going to be hard not to like the chances of Mr. Pacquiao, also a sitting senator of the republic, in their fight this weekend.

“It’s safe to say that this will be an uphill battle for Yordenis Ugas. I don’t see the qualities of boxers who were able to solve the pesky style of Manny Pacquiao in him. What I mean about that is he doesn’t have the counterpunching, chin and grit of Juan Manuel Marquez. He doesn’t have the finesse of Floyd Mayweather, though he was a product of a lauded and proud Cuban amateur boxing program,” Mr. Icasiano said in an interview with BusinessWorld.

“It’s really hard to tell if he has a real fighting chance against Manny Pacquiao, especially since he floundered against the likes of Shawn Porter,” he added.

The analyst further said that it is just unfortunate that the Pacquiao-Spence fight did not push through as it could well have been a fight of the year candidate, but he understood where the organizers were coming in bringing Mr. Ugas as a replacement.

“A lot of people are complaining that Manny Pacquiao is fighting a relatively unknown opponent. But if Team Pacquiao and PBC (Premier Boxing Champions) would opt for a boxer with star power, it could put the much-awaited ring return of Manny Pacquiao in danger. The choice was simple — rescheduled or totally canceled,” he said.

“I think we can say that Ugas is the best option for Manny Pacquiao at the moment.”

For 35-year-old and former Olympian Mr. Ugas (26-4) to have a chance, Mr. Icasiano said he should at least make it a “dog fight.”

“By making it a dog fight as rough as Jeff Horn did a few years ago would at least keep him up with the Filipino. But again, I still doubt if he can hold out when he decides to engage in that kind of pace,” the analyst said.

“People say that he may pull off a Lehlo Ledwaba upset. But for me, I don’t see that happening because first he is already 35, and, second, he has been scouted,” Mr. Icasiano added, referring to the late champion Ledwaba who Mr. Pacquiao upset with a sixth-round TKO to win the International Boxing Federation super bantamweight title in 2001, which many consider as the start of Pacman’s legendary ascent.

Asked to call the fight, the analyst said “I won’t be surprised if Pacquiao gets the finish within six rounds or at least dominates the fight like he did against Chris Algieri.”

The Pacquiao-Ugas fight can be seen over various platforms including over TV5 on free TV and on Cignal TV channel 11 and Sky Cable channel 10.

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