One of the worst things about boing in the last few years has been the sheer number of bouts that have had to be cancelled for one reason or another. Recently Covid19 has caused a lot of mess to planned bouts, but so to have things like visa issues and injuries. One bout that has been cancelled recently is a show down between Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) and unbeaten American Welterweight star Errol Spence Jr (27-0, 21), in what was set to be one of the boxing highlights of the summer. That was cancelled when Spence was deemed medically unfit to fight. Thankfully however American based Cuban Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12) shows his fighters mentality and has taken his chance to face Pacquiao in Spences' absence in a bout we'll get this weekend.
Whilst clearly a big step down from what we were expecting, this is still a really good bout, and one with a really interesting sub story, that of the WBA Welterweight "Super" title which was taken from Pacquiao by the WBA last year. The styles should also gel well, and in many ways this could end up being a very fan friendly bout even if Ugas doesn't have the star power than Spence does.
Before we talk about what we expect when we get the men in to the ring, we do need to touch on the WBA super title back story. Paquiao won that title in 2019, when he defeated Keith Thurman in a brilliant performance at the age of 40. That was, however, 2 years ago. In early 2021 Pacquiao of the title due to inactivity, during a time when a pandemic forced a lot of fighters to be inactive, and was named champion in Recess. Following Pacquiao being stripped Ugas was upgraded from the Regular champion, something he became in September 2020 with a win over Abel Ramos, to the Super champion, despite having never defended the regular title. Whilst it might seem like a little thing, especially in an era where the WBA pop out titles at an alarming rate, it was still a very questionable decision, especially given that they have not yet had a bout for the regular title since Ugas won it, in September 2020.
On to the fighters themselves, it's fair to say that Pacquiao needs no introduction. The Filipino fighter has been a staple of the sport for over 20 years, and has made a name for himself as one of the sports few truly global mega stars. He's been a Filipino hero, a huge international fan favourite, and one of the legends of the sport. His moves through the weights has been remarkable, as has his longevity, and sustained success at the top. He is one of the true greats and has won titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight, whilst also having a fun style, putting on great fights and beating a string of icons, hall of famers, and modern greats.
Sadly at the age of 42, and with 2 years of inactivity, it's really hard to know what Pacquiao has left in the tank, though he did look very good against Keith Thurman, dropping Thurman on route to a decision win. He's not the explosive Phenom that he once was, and is much slower now a days to what he once was, but he's adapted brilliantly, he's still heavy handed, and he knows how to control the tempo of bouts well. He's used his experience, ring craft and the lessons learned in the ring to change his style, and rather than being the explosive dervish of destruction, he's now a more apt, skilled and rounded fighter. In his last few fights he's still looked dangerous, but he's less active and much smarter between the ropes, rather than the risk taking aggressive monster he once was.
For years Yordenis Ugas was an over-looked threat in the Light Welterweight and Welterweight divisions, and one of the sports unlucky men. So far 3 of his 4 losses have been split decisions, including one to Shawn Porter, and he's not really had much fortune at all during his career. In fact getting a Pacquiao payday on short notice is the one true bit of luck he's had, and sadly at the age of 35 it may well be too little too late for him to really make the most of. Despite being a hard luck fighter he's become a bit of a fan favourite in recent years, thanks to a mix of his poor luck, and good story, as well as his in ring style and willingness to face anyone any time. During his 30 fight career he has faced numerous unbeaten fighters, and man who were seen as high risk low reward, such as Levan Ghvamichava, Thomas Dulorme and Ray Robinson, and has not been someone willing to turn down a fighter or an opportunity. Something we again see here.
Unlike some Cuban fighters, we're looking Guillermo Rigondeaux, Ugas isn't scared of a fight. He's not a true all out war monger, but he's a fighter who has always shown a willingness to go to war when he needs to, and is happy to get on the front foot. He's a smart boxer, and doesn't take too many undue risks, but he's also not going to make fans boo him out of the venue. Instead he's an aggressive, intelligent fighter, who can spoil when he needs to, dig deep when he needs to, and is a fighter who grits his teeth when he's behind, making a lot of his fights very close. Ugas is often in front of his man, using a good jab, pressing forward and fighting a smart, yet exciting style of fight, where punches will be traded, and he does open up with some very nice flurries whilst also being defensively smart. He is however now 35 years old, and we do wonder whether father time, and inactivity, could begin to take a toll on him in the coming years. He's younger than Pacquiao, sure, but he's also not the once in a life time talent that Pacquiao is, and it could be that Ugas has lost more to father time than the Filipino.
One thing we're expecting here is a bout that is fought in an exciting manner, even if neither man is a spring chicken. We expect the styles to gel really well, with Ugas intelligently pressuring, and Pacquiao looking to get bursts of shots off before getting out of ring. It won't be an intense fight, we don't think either man has it in them to consistently throw 100 punches in a round, but we do expect some really exciting back and forth moments. Ugas will get to Pacquiao at times, and as the rounds go on the pressure of Ugas will get him more and more success.
Sadly for the Cuban we think, by the time he begins to grind down the Filipino, he will have left himself too much to do, as we've seen from him at times in the past, and whilst it will be close, hotly contested and exciting, we suspect Pacquiao will have the rounds in the bank to take home a close, and debated, split decision win.
Prediction - SD12 Pacquiao
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.