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Yordenis Ugas Upsets Manny Pacquiao, Retains WBA Welterweight Title

Photo Credit: @powersimagery on Twitter

With 11 days to prepare against a future Hall of Famer, Yordenis Ugas put together a boxing clinic and upset Manny Pacquiao.

Ugas outboxed Pacquiao for the majority of 12 rounds to score a unanimous decision victory and retain his WBA welterweight title. The judges scored the fight 116-112, 116-112, and 115-113 in favor of Ugas. 

For Ugas, it was as much a clear victory for him as it was Pacquiao perhaps succumbing to Father Time for good. As questions surrounding Pacquiao’s future loom large, the loss to Ugas may  be the last time the Filipino legend ever steps into the ring. 

The fight started with Pacquiao and Ugas landing punches at a premium. Pacquiao struggled with finding his range on a consistent basis while Ugas landed jabs and solid body shots, but nothing that hurt Pacquiao. Neither fighter ran away with the fight, but Ugas was more efficient with his jab and counterpunching.

Ugas’ length forced Pacquiao to lunge forward and reach with his jab, barely touching Ugas whenever he connects. The Cuban’s body work also gave Pacquiao problems as he did not have much of an answer for it and didn’t defend well against it. 

Pacquiao put up a late rally starting in the 10th round with a more aggressive style, pushing Ugas back in several moments of the round. Pacquiao wasn’t able to muster up the strength to cut the fight close in the last two rounds as Ugas’ right hand and body work closed out a career-defining victory. 

Ugas got the fight of a lifetime with less than two weeks’ notice. Originally, Pacquiao was supposed to fight unified WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in the main event, but Spence withdrew due to a torn retina. Ugas was actually scheduled to fight Fabian Maidana in the co-main event, but Maidana also withdrew due to an eye injury. 

Pacquiao and Ugas did have some unresolved business heading to the fight, particularly with the WBA welterweight title. Pacquiao won the WBA “Super” version of the title in 2019, but never defended it and the sanctioning body stripped Pacquiao of the belt due to inactivity and elevated Ugas, who won the “Regular” version of the title, to “Super” champion. 

The victory over Pacquiao is the culmination of a long journey for Ugas, who stepped away from boxing for more than two years from May 2014 to August 2016. Since then, Ugas scored victories against a number of boxers from Jamal James to Bryant Perrella to Thomas Dulorme and more. 

As for Pacquiao, he did not make a decision as to whether or not he’ll continue fighting. If this is it for him, he’ll leave boxing with one of the most impressive careers in modern boxing history, a career that included countless great fights and world title reigns. 

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