Throughout fight week, Manny Pacquiao repeatedly suggested that his fight with Yordenis Ugas could very well be the last of his amazing career. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The call for that to be the case never rang louder than upon the conclusion of their August 21 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View headliner. Ugas thoroughly outboxed and outfought the legendary Filipino en route to a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Pacquiao remained non-committal to walking away for good, even hinting at a possible rematch with Ugas though not discounting the possibility of riding off into the sunset.
“If this was the last fight for Pacquiao, then it was my honor to share the ring with him,” Ugas stated during a recent Zoom media conference call to discuss his latest win. “Manny picked a really good welterweight who was not just there to beat him but hurt him and show his value to the sport.
“I’m happy not just for the win but the performance I was able to deliver in Las Vegas.”
Ugas (27-4, 12KOs) accepted the challenge on just eleven days’ notice, replacing an injured Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs). Ugas was already due to appear on the PPV undercard, though ultimately in need of an opponent himself. Argentina’s Fabian Maidana withdrew from their WBA welterweight title fight after suffering a cut over his left eye during a sparring session late in camp.
Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39KOs) made the decision to allow the show to go on, offering to face Ugas and challenge for the WBA belt that was stripped from him earlier this year due to inactivity. Two rounds into their bout, it became apparent that the 42-year-old southpaw was in well over his head—at least on this particular evening. Ugas rose to the occasion, delivering a terrific performance in by far the biggest fight of his career—and in particular since returning to the ring in 2016.
Ugas is 12-1 since ending a two-year hiatus beginning with a ten-round win over then-unbeaten Jamal James in August 2016. The lone defeat over that stretch came in a disputed twelve-round, split decision in favor of then-WBC welterweight titlist Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17KOs) in March 2019. Three fights later came a title win of his own, outpointing Abel Ramos last September to win a version of the WBA welterweight crown.
The recent victory over Pacquiao currently serves as a career-defining moment. There is a chance it could also serve as the last call for the former eight-division titlist and guaranteed future Hall of Famer.
“To face Pacquiao, to face a legend was an absolute honor—the greatest moment of my career,” admits Ugas. “If this was the last fight of Manny Pacquiao’s career, it should be remembered that he faced a world class fighter who was capable of beating him."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox