After unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. was forced to step down just 11 days after surgery for a torn retina, reigning WBA title holder Yordenis Ugas was kicked off the main PPV card to face Pacquiao in the main event for a Premier Boxing Champions card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Even though Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) doesn’t have the threat of end-of-fight power on par with the undefeated Spence, the 35-year-old brings the technical know-how of his time as that decorated Cuban amateur and big size for the division. He is also comfortable trading his firepower at close range behind his high guard due to his defensive skills.
But most importantly for Pacquiao, 42, and one of the main reasons the Filipino icon was so willing to accept such a difficult short-term fight to save the card, Ugas has the WBA title that Pacquiao won in of his last fight. from 2019 when he inflicted Keith Thurman his first defeat. Ugas was promoted to full-fledged champion in the midst of Pacquiao’s layoff, which didn’t suit the only eight-division boxing champion.
“I didn’t like someone taking my belt without challenging me in the ring,” Pacquiao said at Wednesday’s last press conference. “We’re both champions, but we’ll see who gets the belt after Saturday.
“It only took me two days to adjust to the fight against Ugas. I have fought a lot of right handed fighters before. It would have been more difficult to go from preparing a right-hander to a left-hander. Most of my opponents were right handed so there is nothing to worry about. ”
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Ugas, who was originally scheduled to defend his belt against Fabian Maidana this weekend, is riding the best wave of his career with an 11-1 record since 2016 with wins over Jamal James, Ray Robinson, Thomas Dulorme, Omar Figueroa and Abel . Ramos. Still, it was Ugas’ lone loss that could have produced his most impressive performance to date.
As he challenged for Shawn Porter’s 2019 WBC title, Ugas surged in the second half and brought the fight straight to his equally aggressive foe. Not only did Ugas land the cleanest punches, but he appeared to crush Porter in Round 12, although it was not judged as a knockdown. Porter then made a contested majority decision in a fight that many felt Ugas should have won.
Porter used the narrow victory springboard to challenge Spence in a PPV clash later that year while Ugas was forced to fight on the Pacquiao-Thurman undercard. Still, the patience Ugas showed in taking what he was given and making the most of it paid off when the phone rang to offer a late upgrade against Pacquiao.
“It’s been a long road for me,” Ugas said. “Obviously it was within a short period of time that I found out that I was fighting Pacquiao, but I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’m ready to take it. We’ve made the necessary adjustments over the past couple of weeks so that I’m ready for Pacquiao. We did everything we had to and are 100% ready to go on Saturday night.
“There is no excuse for this fight. I’ve been in this position before taking a short-term fight, although obviously never against a fighter of Pacquiao’s caliber. I have no worries though, and I believe we are both going to be ready for this fight. ”
Pacquiao reiterated throughout the fight week that he doesn’t underestimate the challenge Ugas brings although his prediction has remained the same as for Spence: win by KO. It’s a potential outcome that Ugas has promised not to happen.
“I’m sure he can’t knock me out,” Ugas said. “I’ve done all the preparation over the last six years to get into this position, hit my stride and I don’t think I can be stopped by Manny. “
Elsewhere, a pair of game veterans are on the verge of toppling when Robert Guerrero meets Victor Ortiz in a welterweight co-feature. Guerrero, 38, is back after his own two-year hiatus and is starting a three-game winning streak. It comes after a brief retreat in 2017 after a three-fight slippage. Ortiz, 34, hasn’t fought since February 2018 when he faced sexual assault allegations that were dismissed in December 2020. He hasn’t won since a knockout in July 2017.
Below are the latest Caesars Sportsbook odds along with a pair of main event predictions from our experts.
Fight card, odds
- Manny Pacquiao -360 v Yordenis Ugas +280, WBA welterweight championship
- Robert Guerrero -125 vs. Victor Ortiz -105, welterweight
- Mark Magsayo -280 v Julio Ceja +230, WBC featherweight title eliminator
- Carlos Castro -1100 vs. Oscar Escandon +700, featherweight
Campbell : When comparing the skills of Spence and Ugas, it would be hard not to nuance the advantage towards Spence ranked pound for pound in just about every category. This is why the betting odds went so quickly from Pacquiao as an underdog to a 3-1 favorite after the change of opponents.
But make no mistake, this is a fight Ugas should still win as long as he understands the seriousness of what’s at stake at this level and what is required of those who come to Las Vegas to take one if. big name. Not only will Pacquiao undoubtedly have the favor of the crowd as a beloved star, but he will likely have a similar default favor from the judges given that he fights with such a high output by constantly increasing his forward pressure.
Ugas certainly has the ability to neutralize some of what Pacquiao does best given his size, defense and technique, as well as his strength as a precise counter punch. But unlike some of his Cuban contemporaries, like Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux in their bigger fights, he’ll have to make sure to keep his production high enough to have a hit on the scorecards.
Matching Pacquiao’s effort and aggressiveness can obviously be a dangerous proposition. While the effects of his layoff were interesting to see at first, Pacquiao looked as fit and fresh against Thurman as he had been in years. He maintained his stamina late in the fight and remained the aggressor by unleashing his patented combination of punches from awkward angles.
This should be a great test for Ugas’s chin and his willingness to get himself out of trouble if Pacquiao penetrates his high guard. Many fighters came in with ideas of how they could overwhelm Pacquiao only to be forced into passivity by the threat of quick punches that they never saw coming.
The contrasting skills of the fighter and questions regarding both Pacquiao’s layoff and his inability to prepare at length for Ugas’s style could produce an interesting chess match with ebbs and flows as both fighters put on in turn their will alternately. But in order for Ugas to outperform Pacquiao in this type of fight, he will not only have to walk a tightrope to avoid knockdowns, he will have to be quick in the way he adjusts on the fly with Pacquiao, who holds a considerable advantage. . in terms of experience against elite enemies of all shapes and styles.
Let’s just say there’s a reason why only Floyd Mayweather was able to overtake and maneuver Pacquiao at welterweight for 12 full laps.
The outcome of the fight could be as simple as this: if Pacquiao lost a step, Ugas is skilled enough to impose his will and stand a chance of winning a decision. But if “PacMan” somehow sounds like the Whirling Dervish he was always against Thurman, punters got this one right.
To take: Pacquiao via UD12
Brent Brookhouse, writer: Pacquiao is a far cry from the fighter he was at his best. In fact, he may not be as good as he was when he beat Keith Thurman to become WBA welterweight champion in July 2019. Despite that, Pacquiao is an exceptionally good fighter who is used to fights for the world title on the big stage. Pacquaio is currently the -360 favorite to regain the WBA title from Ugas, who was promoted from “regular” to “super” champion by the WBA through a combination of Pacquiao’s inactivity and WBA’s attempts to put in place a three-belt unification fight. between Ugas and Spence.
Ugas is very talented and certainly has the skills to take a win over Pacquiao. Ugas could – and maybe should – be on a 12-game winning streak. His only loss during that span came in a split decision loss to Shawn Porter. Judges not giving Ugas the cards against Porter are indicative of a lingering problem for Ugas. In his most recent fight, Ugas won a split decision over Abel Ramos in a fight where the scorecards showed 115-113 Ugas on two and 117-111 Ramos on the other. In reality, Ugas won To minimum 10 of the 12 rounds of this fight.
The sad reality of boxing is that close – and sometimes less close – rounds are often shady for the fighter with the bigger name and stronger promotional support. If Ugas struggled to get the lap he deserved against Porter and Ramos, it’s easy to see the same happening against Pacquiao. What to put a little more value on the already tempting line of Pacquaio via the decision at +120.
To take: Pacquiao by decision
Who wins Pacquiao against Ugas? And what is the method of victory? Visit SportsLine now to see Brandon Wise’s best bets for Saturday, all from the CBS combat sports specialist who was all over the Jamel Herring win, and find out.