For all that Manny Pacquiao has achieved throughout his incredible career, he has earned the right to react as he chooses to his latest defeat. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Or so believes his most recent conqueror.
Yordenis Ugas wasn’t at all bothered by Pacquiao’s efforts to dismiss what took place in their welterweight title fight. Ugas (27-4, 12KOs) stepped in to replace an injured Errol Spence on just eleven days’ notice, proceeding to thoroughly outbox the legendary Filipino southpaw en route to a twelve-round unanimous decision win in their August 21 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic, Pacquiao referred to Ugas as “one of the easiest opponents” of his entire career. The former eight-division titlist attributed the loss to a number of reasons, most notably the inability to move around the ring after his legs stopped working.
Rather than get into a war of words with his divisional rival, the 35-year-old Cuban took the high road.
“I admire Manny Pacquiao,” Ugas noted during a recent Zoom media conference call to discuss his career-best win. “I remember the epic battles against Margarito, Marquez and so many other great fighters.
“If he said those things about me in spite of my great performance and the win I was able to achieve… all that I can say about him is that I respect his opinion.”
Ugas made the first defense of the WBA welterweight title, having been elevated from “World” to “Super” champ earlier this year. The move came at Pacquiao’s expense, with the sanctioning body declaring the future Hall of Famer as a “Champion in Recess” due to extended inactivity.
Both were due to appear on the same Fox Sports PPV show—Pacquiao in a challenge of Spence’s IBF/WBC titles and Ugas in a title defense versus Argentina’s Fabian Maidana, who withdrew after suffering a cut while sparring. Fate would eventually bring together Ugas and Pacquiao to settle the matter of who deserved the belt.
As Pacquiao has hinted at the possibility of a rematch, Ugas would love the chance to prove his level of superiority at this point in their respective careers.
“Manny Pacquiao is a legend. He is a warrior,” acknowledged Ugas. “It would be my honor and pleasure to face him again.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox