Max Kellerman believes Manny Pacquiao still has a lot left despite losing to WBA ‘Super World’ welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas by a 12 round unanimous decision last Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
As Kellerman points out quite astutely, Pacquiao walked into a battle that he was totally unprepared against the former international amateur talent Ugas.
After being out of the ring for two years, the Filipino star Pacquiao underestimated Ugas’ talent by foolishly agreeing to fight him on two weeks’ notice.
Pacquiao would have had trouble with Ugas even with an eight-week camp, but for him to have taken this fight on two weeks’ notice was a crazy decision. Someone should have warned Pacquiao ahead of time that this would be a BAD idea.
You still got to give Pacquiao credit for fighting as well as he did, as he came close to winning. If Pacquiao had thrown another 20 to 30 punches per round, he would have won the fight.
That’s all it would have taken, as he was already out working Ugas. But given the significant power advantage that Ugas had, Pacquiao needed to throw a lot more punches per round to make up for that.
Ugas was an elite former amateur star
“On Max On Boxing, Tim Bradley came on the show, and I said, ‘Ugas has a good chance for an upset,'” said Max Kellerman to ESPN on last Saturday’s upset win by Yordenis.
“Tim thought he [Ugas] was made for Manny Pacquiao, but here’s my point. Ugas comes from the Cuban school of boxing. It’s a difficult style, a highly effective style if not always crowd-pleasing.
“Ugas was a decorated amateur at the elite amateur level. So if you notice in boxing, the pound-for-pound best usually dominate at the international level of amateur boxing.
“The champions that are lower level pound-for-pound in boxing, not like top 5 or 6 or something like that.
“A lot of times, maybe they didn’t dominate at the elite level of amateur boxing, or sometimes they came from such an impoverished background that they never got that advanced.
They turned pro too early like Manny Pacquiao or someone like that, but otherwise, they came from deep, deep international amateur backgrounds.
“Then the guys that win belts but don’t quite get to that elite championship level were usually dominant or sometimes successful at the national level, but then not great internationally.
“Then the guys that are contenders and maybe they don’t win a belt. Those guys sometimes will win a belt but may not hold it long,” said Kellerman.
It’s interesting how little boxing fans knew about Yordenis Ugas going into last Saturday’s fight with Pacquiao.
The fans only saw that Ugas had four losses on his resume and that one of them was against Shawn Porter.
Had they taken a close look, they would have seen that Ugas was a great amateur, and most of his losses as a pro came when he was still getting his bearings. His fight against Porter should have been a wide decision, as Ugas appeared to win that fight 9 rounds to 3.
It wasn’t close. Porter was afraid to mix it up from the first round after getting nailed by a hard right hand by Ugas. From that point on, Porter was running around the ring, trying to avoid getting poleaxed by one of Ugas’ right hands.
Pacquiao isn’t done
“Oh, man, he got upset. No kidding, I thought this was a dangerous fight,” said Kellerman on Pacquiao losing to a highly accomplished former amateur star in Ugas.
“By the way, since he [Ugas] lost that split decision to Shawn Porter that he could have easily won, he hasn’t lost since then. Ugas has won four straight.
“Now, Manny was asked if this is his last fight, and he said, ‘I don’t know. I need time to relax and make a decision.’ I doubt this is Manny’s last fight.
“He’s got too big a name, and he’s still effective and can still make too much money. I don’t know why his camp is against fighting Conor McGregor.
“If I was Manny and could pick up tens of millions of dollars fighting a guy that’s not really a boxer. He’s just a talented fighter who can also box way better than he aught in McGregor’s case. Why wouldn’t you want to do that.
“Do you want to get in with one of the welterweight killers for a fraction of the money? Alright, but Manny is a real fighter.
“The fight right before Ugas because of COVID was two years ago was Keith Thurman. Keith Thurman is a hell of a fighter and was undefeated at the time.
“Manny knocked him down in a war and won a close decision that I thought he deserved. Could Manny Pacquiao still beat a lot of good welterweights?
“Yeah, he can. I thought Spence was going to knock him out, but I thought he would have gone down in a great fight.
“Yeah, I doubt Pacquiao is done. He can still make too much money fighting, and I didn’t think it was so unpredictable that Ugas was going to beat him,” said Kellerman.
Pacquiao can still fight and likely best some of the top welterweights in the division, but probably not Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford. It would be good for Pacquiao to leave Ugas alone and not attempt to avenge his loss.
Pacquiao would be inviting trouble in a second fight, and it would likely end badly for him, even if he had a full camp to prepare for the fight.
If Pacquiao wants to extend his career, he needs to drop back down to 140 or 135 where he’s not outsized so badly by the much bigger fighters.
Pacquiao would do well at lightweight, fighting guys like Vasily Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, and Devin Haney.
Manny wasn’t ready for Yordenis
“They dominated the local Golden Gloves in the local tournaments, but when they went to the national level, they couldn’t win that much and so on,” Kellerman said.
“There are levels in the pros, and it reflects largely, there’s a strong correlation to their amateur background. Ugas was an elite international amateur.
“He won a gold medal at the World Championships, and he won a bronze in the Olympics. This was at an elite level. He was not the most dominant elite amateur, but he was a successful one at the elite level.
“So, the Cuban school of boxing, and he’s successful at the elite amateur level, medaling in the Olympics. Then as a pro, not long ago, a lot of people thought he beat Shawn Porter.
“Shawn Porter is a great fighter. Well, he’s very good but not great. I think Shawn Porter is going to wind up in the Hall of Fame one day.
“He’s a tough guy to beat, and he got the decision against Ugas. It was a split decision. A lot of people thought Ugas won. So that guy is fighting Manny Pacquiao.
“Pacquiao, by the way, was training for Errol Spence, a very different type of guy. He’s an aggressive southpaw and very different from Ugas.
“Pacquiao is 42, hadn’t fought in two years, and had been in wars with the following fighters:
- Marco Antonio Barrera, Hall of Famer. He fought him twice
- Erik Morales, Hall of Famer. He fought him three times
- Juan Manuel Marquez, Hall of Famer. These are guys that are either in the Hall of Fame or going. He fought him four times.
- Tim Bradley. He fought him three times
- Floyd Mayweather
- Miguel Cotto, when he was great, still
- Oscar De La Hoya, who was at the end of his career but still pretty effective
- Shane Mosley
“He’s [Pacquiao] had over 70 fights and been through wars with the who’s who in the last 15 years. HIe started at flyweight, not at welterweight like these guys. Flyweight is 112 lbs.
“It’s not just that he started at flyweight. He won his first world title at flyweight and world championship at flyweight. Some guys say, ‘Well, he started at this lightweight weight class.
“Well, he wasn’t really facing quality competition. That was really lighter than he was. By the time he became a world-class fighter, he was three divisions over that.’
“No, Pacquiao was the lineal champion of the world as a flyweight, and then he moved up.
“Think of how many divisions. He didn’t stop in all these divisions, but many of them he won belts in, and a few of them he was actually ‘The guy, the champion’ in.
“These are all divisions on their way to junior middle, which is as big as he got.
- Flyweight – 112
- Junior bantamweight 115
- Bantamweight – 118
- Featherweight – 126
- Junior lightweight – 130
- Lightweight – 135
- Junior welterweight – 140
- Welterweight – 147
- Junior middleweight – 154
“That’s nine weight classes above what he won his first world title,” Kellerman continued.
“So over 70 fights against whos who, he’s been through the wars, and hasn’t fought in two years fighting a last-minute substitute [Ugas] that is the opposite of the guy he was training for, who is really good, Ugas,” said Kellerman.
It was a foolishly insane idea on Manny Pacquiao’s part to agree to fight a guy as talented as Yordenis Ugas on less than two weeks’ notice after Errol Spence Jr. pulled out of the fight due to an eye injury.
Pacquiao was either naive or incredibly overconfident to take this fight with Ugas on short notice.
If this was the Pacquiao from 2009, okay, it might have worked for him to take the match without a full eight weeks. But this is the 42-year-old Pacquiao, who had been sitting around for two solid years, not boxing, muscles atrophying, and just wasting away.
Let’s face it; Pacquiao had no business being in the ring with the talented former Cuban amateur star Ugas, and he paid a heavy price in losing.