Boxing: Shocker in Vegas as Ugás decisions Pacquiao

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2021 01:05 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2021 09:32 AM

Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (L) looks at Yordenis Ugas of Cuba after being knocked down during the WBA Welterweight Championship boxing match at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 21, 2021.
Manny Pacquiao fights against Yordenis Ugas of Cuba during the WBA Welterweight Championship boxing match at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 21, 2021. Patrick T. Fallon, AFP

(UPDATED) Cuba's Yordenis Ugás claimed  the biggest victory of his boxing career on Saturday, as he outpointed Filipino ring icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao in their welterweight showdown at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Ugás, who took the fight on just 11 days' notice after Errol Spence Jr. had to withdraw due to an eye injury, made a successful defense of his WBA "super" welterweight title.

Scores were 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112 for the Cuban, who was by far the more accurate boxer in the bout. Ugás maximized his reach advantage, using his jab to great effect and repeatedly clobbering Pacquiao with right hands.

"That was the lead punch, the double jab. We only had two weeks of training, but I listened to my corner and it all worked out," an ecstatic Ugás said after the fight.

It was an impressive effort for the 35-year-old Ugás who showed no signs of being overwhelmed by the moment, even as he was facing off against one of the all-time greats of the sport.

Instead, Ugás followed his fight plan to the letter, repeatedly attacking Pacquiao's body early on and countering whenever the Filipino icon went on the attack. His defense was also superb, blocking plenty of Pacquiao's punches and rendering him ineffective throughout the 12-round affair.

"I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today," said Ugás, who improved to 27-4 in his professional career. "I told you I am the champion of the WBA, and I showed it tonight."

"He's a great competitor, but I came in here to show I am the champion of the WBA. A lot of respect for him, but I won the fight," he added.

The Cuban had been elevated to "super" champion status by the WBA in January, when the sanctioning body stripped Pacquiao of the title and declared the Filipino a "champion in recess." Ahead of the fight, Pacquiao and his camp said the Filipino wanted to prove he was the rightful owner of the belt, but their plans were crushed by Ugás.

Fight statistics showed how Ugás neutralized Pacquiao with his length. The Cuban landed 151 of his 405 punches, including 50 of his 234 jabs and an impressive 101 of his 171 power punches.

Pacquiao was far busier, but also much less efficient: the Filipino threw 815 punches, but landed just 130 of the. He connected on just 42 of 475 of his jabs, and 88 of 340 power punches.

Moreover, Ugás shook off any punch that Pacquiao landed, and appeared unbothered even when the "Pacman" swarmed at him. In contrast, Ugás repeatedly backed up Pacquiao whenever he landed his right hand.

"That's boxing," said Pacquiao after the bout, as his face showed the evidence of Ugás' punches. "I'm (having) a hard time in the fight, making adjustments about his style. I think that's the problem to me, because I didn't make the adjustments right away, and my legs are tight."

"I congratulate my opponent for making it tough tonight, and for winning tonight. That's boxing. Let's face another tomorrow again, and plan our future," he also said.

For Pacquiao, it was the eighth defeat of his career, and his first since a disputed loss to Australia's Jeff Horn in July 2017. His record dropped to 62-8-2.

Pacquiao was fighting for the first time since July 2019, when he defeated American Keith Thurman to become the oldest welterweight champion in history. It might have also been the last time that Pacquiao fought, though he didn't make a concrete announcement as to his boxing future when asked.

"I don't know, I don't know. Let me rest first and relax, and make a decision if I'll continue to fight or not," he said.

If it was the last time that he fought, the crowd at the T-Mobile Arena made sure to shower him with love, as they chanted his name after his post-match interview and as he made his exit from the ring. 

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