Yordenis Ugas Expects ‘The Best Manny Pacquiao’ Despite Pacquiao’s 25-Month Layoff

Boxing Scene

Yordenis Ugas accepted a much more difficult fight on less than two weeks’ notice once an injured Errol Spence Jr. was forced to withdraw from his showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

The Cuban-born Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) was scheduled to defend his WBA “super” welterweight title against Argentina’s Fabian Maidana (18-1, 13 KOs) on the Pacquiao-Spence undercard Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Pacquiao, even at 42 years old, is a much more imposing opponent than Maidana, who sustained a cut during sparring that would’ve prevented him from facing Ugas if Ugas hadn’t been asked to replace Spence.

The Philippines’ Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) remains one of the top 10 boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport. He’ll present a more complicated challenge for Ugas than the right-handed Maidana because Pacquiao is a southpaw.

A potential problem for Pacquiao, however, is that he hasn’t fought since he edged then-unbeaten Keith Thurman by split decision in July 2019 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Pacquiao dropped Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) in the first round, hurt him in the 10th round and took the WBA “super” 147-pound championship from him.

Twenty-five months will have passed between bouts for Pacquiao by Saturday night, but Ugas hasn’t paid much mind to his opponent’s inactivity.

“Underestimating Manny Pacquiao is absolutely out of the question,” Ugas said, according to a translator, during a virtual press conference recently. “He’s gonna be ready. I expect the best Manny Pacquiao to be out there in the ring, and that’s my premise. I have prepared to face the best, to be the best.”

The 35-year-old Ugas hasn’t boxed since he beat Abel Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs) by split decision last September 6 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Ugas won the then-vacant WBA world welterweight title when he overcame Ramos in their 12-rounder, but the WBA promoted him to “super” champion once it stripped Pacquiao late in January due to inactivity.

Handicappers have established Pacquiao as approximately a 3-1 favorite versus Ugas, who promised to give disappointed fans a fantastic fight to remember in this FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event.

“How much of a threat am I going to be?,” Ugas asked. “I can tell you that I’m not gonna disappoint the fans that are supporting me. This is the most important fight of my life. I started fighting when I was 6 years old, dreaming of this. And I’m gonna be ready to step up to the ring and give my all. I’m gonna leave it all inside the ring. And no matter what happens, that’s gonna be my goal – leave it all out there and whatever happens, happens.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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