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Boxing: Analysts favor Pacquiao over Ugas, but it won't be easy

TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2021 04:23 PM | Updated as of Aug 21 2021 03:44 PM

Manny Pacquiao and Yordenis Ugas face off ahead of their welterweight showdown. Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions. 
Manny Pacquiao and Yordenis Ugas face off ahead of their welterweight showdown. Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions. 

LAS VEGAS -- It's been more than two years since Manny Pacquiao has been inside a boxing ring, under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Now, the Fighting Senator is out to prove to the world that he still has what it takes to be called a world champion, when he takes on the reigning WBA "super" welterweight champion Yordenis Ugás on August 21.

Many fans are still trying to understand why the Cuban Ugás is facing off against the "Pacman." He was a late replacement for the injured Errol Spence Jr., who had to withdraw just 10 days before fight night after being diagnosed with a torn retina in his left eye.

Yet even if Ugás is the lesser known opponent, veteran boxing analysts are not counting out the Cuban champion that easily.

For Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, Ugás will give Pacquiao a tough time with his length and gutsy style in the ring.

"You know, it's going to be a different fight than Errol Spence," said Iole. "Ugás is a guy that, you know, you saw, against Shawn Porter, when he gets up, he's really a tough guy to handle. He's got a long jab, got long arms, and I think you know, he's gonna give Manny some trouble in the fight."

Ugás lost to Porter via a slim split decision in March 2019, and Pacquiao's own promoter, Sean Gibbons, called the decision "very disputed."

Iole added that it won't be surprising if Ugás is up early in the scores. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if Ugás is up on the cards early, and you see Manny coming back late. I know Manny likes to start fast and get out there. But Ugás is gonna know this is his moment. And he's gonna have to go out there and try to put pressure," he explained.

For Dan Rafael of World Boxing News, Ugás is no push-over, and has proven time and again that he is a consummate professional, while also having a decorated amateur career.

"Ugás is very technically sound. He's extremely experienced going back to his amateur days as a longtime member of the Cuban national team, Olympic bronze medal winner, has seen every possible style you could see in a boxing ring. He is dedicated to the craft, doesn't cut corners, you know, a true pro like in other words," said Rafael.

"He's not coming in having never faced no good opposition or taking an opponent on short notice," he added.

Moreover, Ugás is very cognizant of the magnitude of this fight for his career and will have that as extra motivation.

"For Ugás to go from (Fabian) Maidana, yeah, he's got one of the all-time greatest in history," said Rafael. "Well, that's big."

"He's got to be super pumped up and excited about that. In other words, his emotional, mental, you know, going into this fight has to be at another level compared to where Manny's is," he added.

Both Iole and Rafael see the fight going the distance with the experience and ring savvy of the eight-division champion being the edge. 

"I think it's one of those things where Pacquiao is the more talented fighter, but it's not as big a spread as people think," said Iole. "The Errol Spence fight was a really difficult fight, and a lot of people are disappointed because Spence is out."

"But Ugás is a really, really good fighter in this division. And he's going to be a hard opponent for anybody he faces in the division. And I give credit to Senator Pacquiao, for taking a fight like that," he added.

"I mean, that's a fight where you take a guy that could beat you when it could be your final profile on a late replacement. I mean, that says a lot about Pacquiao, I think."

Rafael certainly does not see a knockout win for Pacquiao as well, and sees no controversy in the ring. 

"Again, all due respect to Ugás, you know, unless something dramatic happened and over the last year and a half, you know, I have a hard time not picking Manny in this fight," he said.

"Ugás has got a good chin. I'll say it and Manny hasn't had a lot of knockouts in the recent times. Other than that, it's safe I'll say mostly Pacquiao on a decision but no controversy," he added.

Ugás enters the bout with a 24-4 win-loss card, with 12 wins coming by knockout. More importantly, he is walking in with a belt that was stripped from Pacquiao due to inactivity, and that is the primary motivator for the "Pacman."

Meanwhile, Pacquiao is mum on whether this will be his last fight, stressing that he's taking it one fight at a time.

But the potential that it could be the last fight of a legend, the world's sports fans will surely have a keen eye on Las Vegas come fight night as it may come to a glorious end for one of boxing's greatest.

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