Manny Pacquiao’s boxing future in doubt after disheartening loss to Yordenis Ugas

Manny Pacquiao’s hasn’t determined what his future holds, but the eight-division world champion is aware that his 26-year professional boxing career could have ended with a disappointing loss on Saturday night.

Yordenis Ugas is only seven years younger than the Filipino senator, but he’s already making a name for himself after taking this once-in-a-lifetime chance to beat one of the greats.

On 11 days’ notice, Ugas defeated Pacquiao by unanimous decision in Las Vegas, putting on a superb technical display and regaining his WBA welterweight belt.

Pacquiao is considering a presidential candidacy.

After a disappointing performance in his return after the longest layoff of his quarter-century in the sport, a visibly dissatisfied Pacquiao stated he hasn’t decided whether or not to fight again. He also refused to say whether he will run for president of the Philippines, as is widely predicted. Next month, he plans to make an announcement.

Ugas, 35, only fired half as many punches as Pacquiao, but his strikes were more precise and efficient. Pacquiao was a strong favorite going into the fight, but he struggled to get inside on Ugas’ excellent jab, and Ugas’ right hand hit with greater frequency in the later rounds.

‘No excuses. I wanted to fight for the title in the ring, and tonight the champion is named Ugas,’ Pacquiao, right, said after the fight. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

Pacquiao also claimed that his legs cramped up after the second round. He blamed the issue on a mix of overtraining and advanced age.

Pacquiao remarked, “I think that was too much hard effort.” “But I’m no longer a teenager. So I’m not sure.”

The victory marked the end of a long journey for Ugas, who left Cuba two years after winning a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. Ugas had a two-year break from boxing in the middle of the last decade, but resurrected his career and took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by winning his 12th fight in his last 13 battles.

Ugas’ jab has stymied Pacman.

Ugas was only in the spotlight because Spence was forced to withdraw last week after a pre-fight physical revealed he had a ruptured retina. Ugas had been scheduled for a fight on the undercard, but he leaped at the chance to get the kind of exposure and pay that had eluded him since he fled Cuba on a small boat destined for Mexico 11 years ago.

“I’m very excited,” Ugas said via a translator, “but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in the ring today.” “We barely had two weeks of training, but I followed my corner’s advice and everything turned out OK.”

On short notice, Ugas had a well-thought-out game plan, pushing hard in the early rounds with a solid jab and body blows. Pacquiao was more aggressive, and his combinations occasionally brought the fans to their feet, but Ugas’ rangy jab baffled him.

Pacquiao says hasn’t decided whether he will fight again after an unimpressive performance in his return from the longest layoff of his quarter-century in the sport. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In the middle rounds, Ugas’ confidence grew, and at the seventh-round bell, he replied to some action with a defiant shimmy shake of his shoulders in Pacquiao’s direction. Pacquiao consistently threw more punches than Ugas, yet they landed approximately the same number, demonstrating Ugas’ defense and precision in the face of Pacquiao’s aggressiveness.

In the tenth round, Pacquiao hit Ugas with a combination and knocked him back as the crowd erupted in applause, but Ugas recovered and rallied with massive blows. In the 12th round, Ugas also looked sharp, peppering Pacquiao all the way to the final bell.

By the time Pacquiao returned, the WBA had taken away the belt and granted it to Ugas, who had earned a separate version of the belt under the WBA’s byzantine championship system, while Pacquiao’s political career and the pandemic kept him out of the ring in 2020.

Pacquiao was irritated by the WBA’s decision, as he had held multiple welterweight belts for a decade after moving up to 147 pounds in 2009 and stopping Miguel Cotto in perhaps his best performance.