'20 years ago, I was Ugas,' muses Pacquiao

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2021 06:53 PM

Manny Pacquiao with Buboy Fernandez
Manny Pacquiao with Buboy Fernandez while hitting the mitts. Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News

Manny Pacquiao maintained he can not underestimate Yordenis Ugas as the less regarded Cuban boxer reminded him of the up-and-coming fighter he was 20 years ago.

Just like Ugas today, Pacquiao was a "replacement fighter" when he took on IBF junior bantamweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba in 2001.

Ledwaba was initially slated to defend the title against Enrique Sanchez, who got injured, prompting Pacquiao to accept the bout on two weeks' notice.

"I was in very good shape since I had recently fought in the Philippines and had just begun to work with Freddie (Roach)," Pacquiao told Boxing Scene before heading to Las Vegas. 

"This was a great opportunity. There was no way I was going to pass it up."

The rest, as they say, is history. Pacquiao battered the unsuspecting Ledwaba en route to a sixth-round stoppage, which served as the Filipino's springboard to boxing stardom.

Pacquiao said this is why he can not look past Ugas, who is in a similar position as he was 20 years ago. The Cuban accepted the bout on two weeks' notice after the Pinoy champion's original foe Errol Spence Jr. pulled out.

"I know what Ugás is feeling because 20 years ago I was Ugás. I am not taking him for granted. In fact, I am taking him as seriously as I took Errol Spence," he said.

His coach Freddie Roach agreed.

"The important lessons Manny and I learned from that (Ledwaba) fight, we never underestimate your opponent, take nothing for granted, and never cut corners in training," he siad.

"And Manny never has. He gives it everything he has every day of every training camp and respects every opponent who is brave enough to enter a ring."

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