Don't sleep on Ugás, Pacquiao promoter warns

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2021 12:52 PM

Yordenis Ugas (C) poses with referee Russell Mora and members of his team after defeating Omar Figueroa Jr. during a welterweight bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ugas won the fight by unanimous decision. File photo. Steve Marcus, Getty Images/AFP
Yordenis Ugas (C) poses with referee Russell Mora and members of his team after defeating Omar Figueroa Jr. during a welterweight bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ugas won the fight by unanimous decision. File photo. Steve Marcus, Getty Images/AFP

Cuba's Yordenis Ugás is a strong fighter who will offer a stiff challenge for Manny Pacquiao, according to the promoter of the Filipino ring icon.

Sean Gibbons, president of MP Promotions, acknowledged that Ugás is a "downgrade" from Pacquiao's original opponent, American star Errol Spence Jr., who was one of the top-rated boxers in the welterweight division.

Spence had to withdraw from the fight after a medical examination in Nevada discovered that he had a torn retina.

"He (Ugás) has been preparing to fight. He's in tremendous shape," Gibbons told former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on "Power and Play" this weekend. 

"(But) it's a downgrade, because Errol Spence was undefeated, he's a pound-for-pound (one of the) best welterweight," he also admitted.

The 35-year-old Ugás was originally set to defend his WBA (super) welterweight belt in the undercard of the Pacquiao-Spence card against Fabian Maidana. However, Maidana also got injured shortly after Spence withdrew from the main event, leaving Ugás available to replace the American.

Even though Gibbons acknowledged that Ugás does not offer the same star power as Spence, he warned that the Cuban veteran cannot be taken lightly.

"Don't sleep on Ugás," Gibbons said.

"Ugás is a very accomplished amateur, came through that brilliant Cuban amateur system. He won a bronze medal in Beijing in the 2008 Olympics," the promoter noted. "He's been on a tremendous run, (winning) 10 of his last 11 fights."

Ugás' only loss came against Shawn Porter in March 2019, in a bout for the WBC welterweight title. Porter won via a split decision that Gibbons believes is "very disputed."

"The guy is no joke," Gibbons said. "He's got a chip on his shoulder too. He knows how to fight, he's strong, he's physical."

Still, Gibbons expects Pacquiao to emerge triumphant, especially as the "Pacman" has some special motivation against Ugás.

The WBA had elevated Ugás to "super" champion status while Pacquiao was named "champion in recess" earlier this year, after Pacquiao failed to defend his welterweight belt in 2020. 

"The senator got his belt basically ripped off by the WBA and they gave it to Ugás," Gibbons pointed out. "So it's poetic justice now. The senator is going to fight Ugás to get his belt back."

"I think Ugás will be difficult early," Gibbons also said, when asked how the fight will play out. "I think eventually the senator's speed and power, as we move along, I'm looking somewhere for the fight to end before nine rounds."

The Pacquiao-Ugás card is set for August 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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