One thing that is undeniably true in boxing, is that father time is unbeaten in the sport. No fighter can take on father time forever and win. Sooner or later old age will get to any fighter. It seemed, today, that Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39) found that out as he suffered a loss to unheralded Cuban Yordenis Ugas (27-4, 12), who retained the WBA Welterweight "Super" title.
From the off Pacquiao didn't quite look like the fighter he had been a few years ago. He looked good, but not even close to his best. He landed several big left hands early in the opening round, but also took some big right hands from Ugas, to both head and body as the round went on. The Cuban looked calm, relaxed and much bigger than the Filipino, and he used his size and reach well to land his jab, and regularly through the final 90 seconds of the opening round.
As the bout went on Ugas really managed to show exactly why he's been so well regarded by those who really follow the sport. He was defensively sound, neutralising Pacquiao really well, whilst finding room to land big right hands up top and crafty body shots, taking the legs away from the Filipino. He wasn't throwing a lot, but what Ugas was throwing he was landing with alarming regularity whilst Pacquiao was struggling to tie him down, and seemed to struggle to land either single shots or his trademark flurries.
What made things even worse for Pacquiao is that his shots, when they did land, seemed to bounce of Ugas whilst Ugas shots seemed to take a toll on Pacquiao, rocking him numerous times and leaving him marked around the eyes as early as round 2. As the bout went on Ugas's face also began to swell and bruise, but Pacquiao's was significantly more bruised and looked much more damaged than that of the Cuban.
To his credit Pacquiao did try, at numerous times, to up the tempo, turn things around and press Ugas, but the increased effort from the Filipino really were thwarted by the Cuban who used his jab to force Pacquiao to rest, or held Pacquiao when he needed to, stopping the rare toe to toe wars in their tracks.
After 12 rounds it felt very much like Pacquiao had given his all, but been beaten by a younger, hungrier, fresher fighter, who was too good on the night. He'd given Ugas a close one, with Pacquiao's work rate doing enough to keep things competitive in a number of rounds, but he was too inconsistent from the Filipino great. He didn't have the intensity he had once had, he lacked the energy, and speed that he once had, and instead looked like a fighter who was only 80% of the fighter he had once been.
When we went to the judges scorecards the judges turned in scores of 115-113, and 116-112, twice, to give Ugas the decision.
For Ugas this win really does put him in the mix for more big fights. Bouts against Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford are certainly going to be ones that fans are going to want, and Ugas has the tools to be a banana skin for both men. He took this fight on 2 weeks notice, and really showed what he could do.
As for Pacquiao it's surely, now, time to retire, and go into politics fulltime. He's 42, he hadn't fought in around 2 years, and this really should be a chance for him to bow out of the sport. He has served the sport as a true icon, a fan favourite and a great servant. He really doesn't need to take any more punishment, or give any more of himself to the sport.
Being in the UK I'm used to staying up for fights to cover here, and being up until 4AM or later is pretty much normal. Thankfully usually fights are worth watch, and are between two men wanting to win a fight. Tonight however we got a fight that really had nothing positive to sya about it, with one fighter looking to play a game of run away, against a fighter who was much slower than himself. What we ended up getting was one of, if not the, worst bout of 2021. And it came on a show that also had 16 second No Contest!
The bout in question saw WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) retain his title with a split decision over Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-2-0-1, 13). And it was a bout that no one should have have to sit through. In fact the highlight of the bout was the crowd, who let the fighters know that what they were getting was total bull shit. The crowd let both men have it with through out the contest.
The fight actually started in exciting fashion with Casimero being aggressive, trying to take the fight to Rigondeaux. He seemed to hurt the Cuban, who bent at the waist and got clobbered for it, something we don't typically see from Rigondeaux opponents, with the Cuban hitting the canvas and taking several shots when he was down. It seemed like the fight was going to be exciting. That was until round 2, when Rigondeaux began to do what Rigondeaux does, and moved. A lot. He moved to the point where he was killing the fight, and whilst he did land a couple of good left hands in round 2 those became less and less and less frequent as the rounds went on.
Instead countering Rigondeaux just moved, and he moved quicker than Casimero, who chased, but failed to cut off the ring. This lead to round, after round, of boos, frustration from everyone. The punch output from both dropped off complete, and the most in ring drama was a late punch from Rigondeaux at the end of round 6. In fact it was the only time he showed any real fire. After that we got pose off, with Casimero trying to mimic Rigondeaux, we got got running, we got chasing, and we got something really would have made the officials of the Olympic Kumite Karate competition very happy.
By round 7 it was hard to care about who was winning and losing. The reality is that we, as fans, were losing. The only saving grace is that we live in 2021, and world title fights are only 12 round affairs.
After 12 rounds the reality is that scorecards could legitimately have said anything. There was very few clear rounds either way, less than 90 combined connects, according to compubox, and the judges really could pick what they want. Casimero's attempt to make a fight, or Rigondeaux's ring general ship, and ability to avoid a fight. The judges, or at least two of them, preferred the work from Casimero, scoring it 117-111 and 116-112 in his favour, against a score of 115-113 to Rigondeaux from a dissenting judge. In reality it's hard to care about the scores, we're just hoping this is the last time Rigondeaux can stink out a televised card. As for Casimero, he'll need a fight next time out where he can re-establish himself as an exciting fighter, and get the taste of this bout out of fans minds.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.