This Saturday night Manny Pacquiao makes his return to the ring after a 2-year layoff against a late replacement in Yordenis Ugas. As we’ve known for over a week now, Errol Spence pulled out of a super fight with Manny Pacquiao because of a serious eye injury. The buzz this week had Spence been healthy would reach a fever pitch and this boxing podcaster would likely have butterflies in my stomach thinking about the matchup. The Pacquiao vs. Ugas bout will be broadcasted live on FOX PPV unfortunately the fans didn’t get a break on the price point.
Normally a fight of the magnitude as Manny Pacquiao vs. Errol Spence would be postponed if an injury occurred. Given the severity of Spence’s injury it makes sense that Manny would still fight this Saturday. Another key factor is Pacquiao’s limited fight schedule, generally only free in the summer months and then again in January. It obviously sucks we may never get the Pac/Spence bout however as a late-fill Yordenis Ugas fits the bill to a tee. Recent boxing Twitter rumors were claiming Ugas’s bicep is injured. The image passed along online did make his left bicep appear bigger than the other. Of course, it’s an image not a live video so it could’ve occurred right as Ugas was moving his arm or something to that extent. In other press-related activities Ugas had a long sleeve so let’s see what his bicep looks like on the scales.
It’s remarkable that Manny Pacquiao is not only still fighting at a high level but he’s also challenging himself to the upmost. Back in July 2019 Manny turned back the clock giving fans a throwback performance in a competitive victory over Keith Thurman. Although Manny scored a knockdown in the first round and later hurt Thurman to the body, Pacquiao did take plenty of punishment. Having fought 3 times in around 12 months along with some heavy shots received by Thurman it probably is a good thing Manny was able to take time off to rest his body and mind. The main question that remains is two years a year too long for his 42-year old body?
Not many fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, or Ray Leonard can come back to the sport from a prolonged time out of the ring, and manage to look like they haven’t missed a beat. Father time will no doubt be knocking on the door but will ‘PacMan’ answer? Could this be the fight that we finally see a clearly-faded Manny Pacquiao is something we won’t know until the first bell rings? Manny has fights he didn’t look his best like Jeff Horn but was that just a case of not being fully focused and overlooking him? The good thing for Manny, he was super deep in to a training camp to face Errol Spence not some unknown boxer.
Yordenis Ugas’s professional boxing career is a great comeback story which makes it so fitting that he gets to step in for Spence this Saturday. Not many boxers especially nowadays can resurrect a career that after 3-losses seem to be spiraling downwards. Ugas climbed his way up the welterweight ladder by taking on solid opponents. Some of his wins came on short notice which tells us about the mind state Ugas had, always ready to pick up the phone when an opportunity arrives. Some folks believe he did enough to get his hands raised over Shawn Porter. Personally a draw seemed more fitting as both men left too much on the table. Regardless Ugas gets the big fight he’s been craving now it’s just a matter of him laying everything on the line by emptying the tank. Ugas must leave no stone unturned so to speak.
Style-wise Ugas possess very good fundamentals, no surprise as he developed in the Cuban amateur system. Unlike his fight with Porter, more than likely Ugas won’t have to cut the ring off as he did at times against Shawn. Clearly coming-forward from the jump on the highest levels is not Ugas’s bread and butter. Manny’s aggressiveness should lineup better for Ugas who’s more comfortable in the role of read and react. That said Manny isn’t your average face-first attack fighter. Pac’s hand and foot speed along with his jab and angles take time to adapt on the fly, just ask Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez was dropped 3 times in their first meeting but once adjustments were made JMM won more rounds overall in their 4 meetings, of course putting the icing on the cake in the 4th fight.
At the end of the day unless Manny is clear-as-day-over-the-hill, look for him to be too fast and explosive with his footwork. There is a scenario that it takes Manny 3 or 4 rounds to get the rust off or it never truly comes off. In that case Yordenis’s fundamentals behind the jab, left hook, and straight right hands could be just what the doctor ordered to pull off what would be a memorable upset. Manny does have a bad habit of walking into right hands from his southpaw stance and history tells us a potent jab and right hand can fluster southpaws. This boxing stan does believe in will be an entertaining tussle no matter who ends up in the winner’s circle.
My Official Prediction is Manny Pacquiao by Unanimous Decision.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio