LAS VEGAS – Freddie Roach has repeatedly predicted that Manny Pacquiao will knock out Yordenis Ugas in their welterweight title fight Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The Cuban-born Ugas has not been knocked out in his 11-year, 30-fight pro career and prides himself on having a granite chin. The defending WBA “super” welterweight champion promised during their press conference Wednesday at MGM Grand Garden Arena that the trend won’t end when he opposes Pacquiao in their FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event (9 p.m. EDT; $74.95).
“I’m 100-percent certain he cannot knock me out,” Ugas told FOX Sports’ Heidi Androl, who moderated the press conference. “I’ve done all the work and all the preparation. Over these past six years, I’ve really been hitting my stride and I don’t think Manny Pacquiao can knock me out.”
The 35-year-old Ugas, who replaced an injured Errol Spence Jr. on less than two weeks’ notice, has lost four times on points since he turned pro in July 2010, after defecting from Cuba.
Most recently, he lost a very controversial, 12-round split decision to former IBF/WBC champ Shawn Porter in March 2019. Before Porter topped him, Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) dropped back-to-back bouts to Emanuel Robles (split decision) and Amir Imam (unanimous decision) in 2014.
His first professional defeat was an eight-round split decision to Johnny Garcia in March 2012.
The 2008 Olympian has won 11 of his past 12 fights, excluding his debatable defeat to Porter. He has knocked out only 40 percent of his pro opponents, but Ismael Salas, Ugas’ trainer, senses that Roach and Pacquiao are underestimating Yordenis Ugas’ power.
Salas also knows that the 42-year-old Pacquiao is vulnerable to the body, if Ugas can sneak such a shot around his elusive, left-handed opponent’s guard. Salas worked the corner of Thailand’s Boonsai Sangsurat when Pacquiao’s right-handed opponent landed a body shot that ended their WBC 112-pound title fight in the third round in September 1999.
“To fight with Manny Pacquiao is fun,” Salas said during the press conference. “To me, he’s a legend. And to me, he’s a guy who is an inspiration to millions of [people]. I have so much respect [for Pacquiao]. But one thing’s for sure, look back and he’s talking about KO. He long time no give KO to anyone. He’s been dropping people, but never KO for long time.”
The Philippines’ Pacquiao has won only one of his past 16 bouts by knockout. He dropped Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse three times on his way to a seventh-round stoppage in July 2018.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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