Thoughts and takeaways from Yordenis Ugas’ unanimous decision victory over Manny Pacquiao

Yordenis Ugás v Manny Pacquiao
Yordenis Ugás v Manny Pacquiao

Was that Manny Pacquiao’s last fight? It would be hard to argue against that, based on what we saw. We saw an old Manny Pacquiao for the first time, a shell of his former self, yet still formidable nonetheless.

It just wasn’t his night and Father Time remained undefeated.

Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas retained his WBA welterweight title last Saturday evening, August 22nd, at the T-Mobile Arena with scores of 115-113, 116-112 (twice). He snatched a unanimous decision victory behind a comprehensive performance against boxing’s only eight-division world champion.

Manny Pacquiao showed spurts of his former self, but his moments were too few and far between. Ugas, being the younger man and still in his physical prime, was too much of a hurdle to overcome for Pacquiao, who turns 43 in December.

The Filipino fighting senator had trouble getting past Ugas’ size and length. He also couldn’t break through the guard with his usual speed and power.

Could Ugas have stayed true to his word and sent Pacquiao into retirement? Here are a few key takeaways from the massive upset in Las Vegas.

Thoughts and Key Takeaways

Manny Pacquiao had trouble dealing with Ugas' size and length. That was pretty obvious. The Cuban was considerably the much bigger man, and Pacquiao just couldn't get past Ugas' guard. The former Olympic bronze medalist had several key technical advantages in addition to the size discrepancy.

Before the fight, Ugas said that there was no way Pacquiao was going to knock him out, which showed confidence in his chin and defense. The Cuban's game plan was to defend from Pacquiao's combination punching, wait for the Filipino legend to finish and then come back with accurate counters. Also part of that game plan was to go to the body early and take the edge off 'Pacman,' who definitely showed his age.

The decision for Ugas to go to the body took a lot of steam off of Pacquiao's punching power. It also made the Filipino hesitant to engage, which has always been key against Manny Pacquiao's style.

For a guy not known for power punching, though, Ugas had some pop in his shots. A lot of the shots that hit the mark visibly affected Pacquiao.

But the key for Ugas in this bout was controlling distance with a stiff left jab, countering over the top of Manny Pacquiao's right jab and landing with great effect. Conor McGregor said it best: precision beats power, and timing beats speed. Ugas had both tonight.

Manny Pacquiao's downfall was that he failed to make the necessary adjustments when it mattered the most.

The Filipino fighting senator tried to adjust late in the fight by going to his angles, but Ugas made a counter adjustment by pushing the pace and moving forward, forcing 'Pacman' on the back foot.

Could Team Pacquiao have underestimated Ugas heading into this fight? It's possible. But it was more likely a combination of factors that led to the loss. Distractions may have plagued Manny Pacquiao's camp aplenty, with the Philippines' presidential elections coming in just a few months, which require an incredible amount of resources and attention.

Manny Pacquiao looked old in this fight, and he didn't have the usual spring in his step. In his post-fight interview, 'Pacman' said his legs were tight, and that it was hard for him to move in the ring. When the legs go, that's a sign that Father Time is at your doorstep.

In the end, Ugas came in with the perfect strategy, combining Joshua Clottey's ironclad defense with Juan Manuel Marquez's timing and sharp counter punching. The looping right hand for Ugas was money all night.

What’s next for Manny Pacquiao and Yordenis Ugas?

Though Ugas said he was open to giving 'Pacman' a rematch, it's unlikely this will happen given Manny Pacquiao's prevailing political obligations and the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines. Fans want to see Pacquiao in a farewell fight in Manila. But with the way things are going there, that seems very distant.

This could very well have been Pacquiao's last fight. He turns 43 this December. He's not expected to fight next year due to the Philippine elections. The earliest he could fight is in 2023, when he would be pushing 45.

With his last fight being two years ago against Keith Thurman, Pacquiao showed some ring rust. That could have been a factor. But if it wasn't clear before, it's clear now; Many Pacquiao's best days are way behind him.

That being said, Pacquiao is still a tremendous fighter and would give any welterweight a run for their money. But he is no longer among the elite, which makes this the perfect time to walk away from the sport.

As for Ugas, a bout against Errol Spence Jr. is now an interesting proposition. Let's hope Spence recovers from his eye injury at the soonest.

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Edited by Utathya Ghosh
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