LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao took a lot of criticism the last time he mentioned a physical problem that contributed to a unanimous-decision loss in Las Vegas. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The 42-year-old legend opened himself up to more skepticism Saturday night after his decisive defeat to Yordenis Ugas. The Filipino icon indicated during their post-fight press conference that both of his legs cramped during the second round and limited his movement for the remainder of their 12-round, 147-pound title fight at T-Mobile Arena.
The aged southpaw was more stationary than usual in what might’ve been his final fight against Ugas, whose height, length, jab and counter right hand perplexed Pacquiao for much of their FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event. Judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored eight rounds apiece for Ugas (116-112) and judge Patricia Morse Jarman scored seven rounds for the WBA “super” welterweight champion (115-113).
“Actually, I know his style,” Pacquiao said. “But the thing is, I want to do my plan, but my plans in the ring – I have a lot of techniques for his style. But the thing is, but I’m not saying that this is my excuse, but no, you know, my two legs is cramping. I cannot move. That’s why I can’t move around. I can, in early days I can easily move and out-box him. You know Manny Pacquiao.
“But this time around, it’s like my two legs is tight and hurting me in [the] second round, until 12 rounds. But I’m not making excuses. That’s the reason why I cannot move and I just staying countering him, of his punches. That’s what happened, so that’s boxing. I mean, I’ve done a lot in boxing and I’m happy that we’re safe.”
Six years earlier, Pacquiao complained after his points loss to Floyd Mayweather that his injured right shoulder prohibited him from fighting to his potential in what emerged as the most lucrative event in boxing history. Pacquiao underwent surgery following his unanimous-decision loss to Mayweather to repair what his surgeon called “a significant tear” to his right rotator cuff and came back to embark on another remarkable run in the welterweight division.
The senator beat Keith Thurman by split decision in their 12-round title fight in July 2019. Thurman is 10 years younger than Pacquiao and was undefeated when they fought at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) hadn’t boxed since his impressive victory over Thurman before he encountered Ugas, a late replacement for an injured Errol Spence Jr. He had much more difficulty with the Cuban-born Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) than Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC).
The eight-division champion isn’t sure if age or overextending himself during training was the primary reason his legs cramped so early in his fight against Ugas.
“I don’t know because I think too much hard work [in the gym] training,” Pacquiao said. “I run in the mountain, and then also doing 32 runs every day. So, I don’t know. But, well, we’re not young anymore.”
Ugas gladly would give Pacquiao a rematch, but Pacquiao isn’t certain if he’ll box again. He’ll announce next month whether he’ll launch a presidential campaign for the 2022 election in the Philippines.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.