Fans may have seen the last of Manny Pacquiao in his crushing 12 round unanimous decision defeat against WBA Super World welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The 42-year-old Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) looked painfully slow of hand & foot; reflexes shot in getting beaten to the punch by Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) for 12 long rounds.
Ugas had it fairly easy, landing powerful looping right hands throughout the contest, which Pacquiao had no defense for. Those shots landed all night, snapping Pacquiao’s head violently.
In terms of punch volume, Pacquiao landed more shots, but they didn’t have anywhere near the same power or effect on Ugas. He took as if he was fighting a pumped-up featherweight, and he was never bothered by any of them.
After the fight, Pacquiao couldn’t directly answer whether he’ll continue his professional career, but it seems very likely this might be the end for him.
Pacquiao looked diminished
For Pacquiao’s loyal boxing fans, who had expected him to perform at the same level as he had two years ago against Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman in July 2019, they were unpleasantly shocked at how badly the Filipino star had deteriorated in the last 25 months.
Pacquiao performed like he was only 40% of what he’d been in the Thurman fight, which isn’t surprising.
When you’re performing elite level, as Pacquiao had been, you DON’T voluntarily take a two-year break, especially if you’re in your early 40s. What Pacquiao did was, for all intents and purposes, kill his career with that move.
It’s fair to say that if this had been the Pacquiao that beat Thurman two years ago, Ugas wouldn’t have stood a chance last Saturday night. Against that version of Pacquiao, Ugas would have been in dire straits.
It was predictable that his two-year layoff would negatively impact Pacquiao’s speed, reflexes, mobility, and stamina from boxing.
What was a kind of a surprise was Pacquiao’s power diminishing as well. He looked nowhere near as powerful against Ugas as he’d been in the past, which left him with virtually no chance of winning.
What next for Pacquiao?
If Pacquiao is going to fight once more before the end of the year, he’s got to decide whether he wants to attempt to avenge his loss to Ugas or go for the cash-out against Errol Spence Jr or Terence Crawford.
I know what the average boxing fan would do if they had the choice of taking a massive payday fight against Spence or choose to take the smaller money fight with Ugas to try and avenge the loss.
Pacquiao has a lot of pride, and he’ll likely want to try and get revenge by fighting Ugas in a rematch in December.
But with the election in the Philippines taking place in March, Pacquiao doesn’t have a lot of time to squeeze in one more fight this year.
“It was a close fight. I can’t say that Ugas didn’t deserve it, and I can’t say Manny didn’t deserve it,” said Nonito Donaire to Fighthub in talking about the results of the Pacquiao vs. Ugas fight.
“It was a very close fight, and it was the decision of the judges. It could have gone either way.
Ugas did what I didn’t expect him to do, and he did it so well, considering he was fighting Manny. Manny has always been the way he is.
“You got to understand that he [Pacquiao] had some ring rust in there. Not to make any excuses for him or anything like that, but I thought it was a great fight, and I want to see it again.
“That’s what he’s saying,” Donaire said when asked if this is the last we’ll see if Pacquiao. “He’s running for president [of the Philippines], and he has a lot on his table.
“Maybe this is why it is the way it is,” said Nonito in giving one possible theory why Pacquiao looked poor against Ugas. “He’s not looking like the Manny that we’re used to.
“But again, not to take anything away from Ugas. This is what he [Pacquiao] had to show for this time. No, Ugas has always been in shape.
“I’ve trained with Ugas. I’ve trained with [Ugas’ trainer Ismael] Salas, I’ve trained with all of those guys, and I know how they work. They’re always in shape, you know?
“It’s a different story. You can’t compare with Errol Spence because you got to understand that Errol Spence is a southpaw, and Manny had been training for a southpaw,” said Donaire when asked if the fight had been worse for Pacquiao if he’d have fought Spence last Saturday.
“At the same time, the experience that you had doesn’t excuse you for the change-up of opponents. He’s on top of the world; he has the right to do whatever he wants at the moment,” said Donaire when asked what direction Ugas goes in now.