Two weeks ago, Yordenis Ugas received the news that he would be stepping in the ring against Manny Pacquaio after Errol Spence had to withdraw due to injury. Going into the fight many felt that Ugas was an underdog against one of the most decorated fighters in the sport. The thought was that Ugas would not be able to handle the pressure of a fight of this magnitude.
That ended up not being the case.
Over the course of twelve rounds, Ugas showed ring generalship in order to score a unanimous decision win over Manny Pacquiao to retain his WBA Welterweight World title. Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti scored the bout 116-112 in favor of Ugas and Patricia Jarman had a score of 115-113 for Ugas. His record improves to 27-4, while giving Pacquiao his eighth loss of his professional career.
The length and size of Ugas was a key factor as he denied Pacquiao the chance to land that many power shots (26% landed) while being successful in his end (59% landed) and also held Pacquiao to only 8% in jabs landed over the course of twelve rounds. Pacquaio had a good start in the first few rounds with his fast hands, but Ugas kept his composure to stay in the fight. Ugas used his defense and mobility to frustrate Pacquiao and landed punches at key points to win rounds as Pacquiao threw combinations but didn’t land many punches to affect Ugas.
While the Cuban was able to connect at a better rate than Pacquaio, Ugas didn’t land visibly significant power shots until the last couple rounds of the fight where Ugas threw big right hands to send Pacquaio back. In the final round, Ugas landed the more telling shots despite Manny throwing more punches. That ended up being the difference for Ugas in getting the unanimous decision.
Ugas was extremely happy that he got the victory over the former multi-division champion.
“I’m very emotional. A lot of people say Cubans can’t win the big fight. So, I’m very proud that I got this win for Cuba and showed what we are all about,” he said after the fight. “(My trainer) Ismael Salas and I had a plan. We were going to move him around; we were going to use the jab and keep him off balance.”
“The right hand was a shot I had planned to use on Manny. It kept working so I kept using it.”
Pacquaio acknowledged the effort that Ugas gave in the fight. “Congratulations to Ugas and his team,” he said. “His style gave me problems in the ring and I couldn’t adjust. It was hard for me to move.”
“I’m sorry that I didn’t win the fight, but I did my best.”
After 72 professional fights and 26 years as a pro, Manny was doubtful that he would continue his career after this loss.
“In the future, you may not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring,” Pacquiao said. “I don’t know. Let me rest first, relax and make a decision if I’ll continue to fight or not.”
For Ugas, this could potentially set him up for huge fights at 147 pounds. Errol Spence still holds two belts and Crawford holds another title. But for now, Ugas feels like he is at the top of the world.
“I am the champion of the WBA and I showed it tonight.”