Yordenis Ugás defeated Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision on Saturday, after an impressive technical display in a fight that was agreed just 11
Yordenis Ugás defeated Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision on Saturday, after an impressive technical display in a fight that was agreed just 11 days ago and in which he managed to retain his welterweight title by the World Boxing Association (WBA).
Ugás (27-4) took advantage of the opportunity that came as a replacement due to the injury of Errol Spence Jr. It became a constant frustration for Pacquiao (67-8-2), during what could have been the last fight in the career of the 42-year-old Philippine star and senator.
The 35-year-old Cuban threw far fewer punches than Pacquiao, but with more precision and strength.
Pacquiao, a world champion in eight different divisions, was the wide favorite. However, he had trouble getting close to his opponent, who held him off with an effective jab.
Ugás delivered his right hands at will during the last bars.
“I’m very excited, but more than anything I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in the ring today,” said Ugás. “We only had two weeks to train, but I listened to my corner and everything went well.”
Two judges ruled 116-112 in favor of the Cuban. A third gave 115-113. The Associated Press card read 116-112, also in favor of Ugás.
Visibly disappointed, Pacquiao said he hadn’t decided if he would fight again. He looked far from his impressive form of yesteryear, coming back from the longest inactivity in his professional boxing career of a quarter century.
The Asian fighter and politician also did not confirm whether he will participate in the presidential elections in the Philippines, as many expect. He plans to make an announcement about it next month.
“Let me rest first, before my family and I make a decision,” said Pacquiao.
Ugás’s victory was the culmination of a series of incidents. He defected from Cuba two years after winning the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Ugás left boxing for two years, in the middle of the last decade. However, he reinvigorated his career and seized an unexpected opportunity to face one of the greatest boxers in history.
Thus, he scored his twelfth win in his last 13 lawsuits.
“He is a great competitor, but I came here to show that I am the WBA champion,” said the Caribbean boxer. “I have a lot of respect for him, but I won this fight.”
Ugás was left with the chance to fight the biggest fight of his career just last week, when Spence was forced to leave the engagement after discovering that a retina had been detached during pre-combat medical tests.
Ugás was originally scheduled to participate in the show, but in a preliminary fight. He ended up appearing in the stellar lawsuit, with a bag that was only in his dreams after leaving Cuba aboard a small boat to Mexico, 11 years ago.
The T-Mobile Arena seemed packed despite the last-minute change of rival. A good part of the 17,438 spectators loudly supported the Filipino.
Pacquiao hadn’t fought since 2019, when he beat Keith Thurman for the WBA welterweight belt.
That scepter belonged to Ugás by the time “Pacman” returned. While Pacquiao continued his political career and the pandemic prevented him from fighting in 2020, the WBA took the belt from him and gave it to Ugás.
The Cuban obtained a different version of the center, as part of a chaotic system of awarding championships in the WBA.
The agency’s decision infuriated Pacquiao, who retained several welterweight belts for a decade after originally moving to 147 pounds in 2009 and beating Miguel Cotto in one of his best performances.