Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugas: Legend and Legacy

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The iconic Manny Pacquiao looks to nab another strap as he takes on WBA World Welterweight Champion Yordenis Ugas Saturday night on pay-per-view.

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Pacquiao vs Ugas PREVIEW: August 21, 2021 on Pay-Per-View

When future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao clashes with skilled Cuban Yordenis Ugas, will we see another legendary feat from one of the all-time greats or the end of an era? 

Saturday, August 21, eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) returns to the ring against WBA World Welterweight Champion Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) atop a YouTube pay-per-view and FOX Sports pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The card features a 10-round all-action welterweight battle between former world champions Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and “Vicious” Víctor Ortiz. Also, unbeaten Mark Magsayo meets former world champ Julio Ceja in a WBC featherweight title eliminator. In the opening bout of the event, undefeated contender Carlos Castro takes on former title challenger Oscar Escandón in a 10-round featherweight contest.

The Story

When a retinal tear forced Errol Spence Jr. out of the August 21 main event, Olympic bronze medalist and reigning WBA champ Ugas was plucked from the undercard and given the biggest opportunity of his life. 

Pacquiao, returning to the ring for the first time since scoring a rousing victory over Keith Thurman in July 2019, has had to change course in his preparation as he faces an entirely different type of foe in the talented Cuban. 

The sitting senator from the Philippines also sports a bit of a beef with his new opponent, lamenting the fact that the belt around Ugas’ waist was once his, stripped from him by the WBA for inactivity. 

Ugas, who defected from Cuba in 2010, has been one of the hottest, upwardly-mobile fighters in the welterweight division since returning from a two-year hiatus in 2016. Sporting an 11-1 record since his comeback, his only defeat came via controversial split decision to Shawn Porter in 2019. During this run, he’s registered decisive victories over the likes of Jamal James, Bryant Perrella, Thomas Dulorme, Ray Robinson, Omar Figueroa Jr., and Abel Ramos. 

Pacquiao, meanwhile, will be completing one of the final chapters of his Hall of Fame career this Saturday, looking to add more championship gold and more acclaim to his already hefty legacy.

The Stakes

Up for grabs is Ugas’ WBA welterweight title, but both fighters come into this bout with much more at stake. 

For Pacquiao, a win keeps his legendary 26-year career rolling. A loss probably means the end of that magical ride.

For Ugas, this fight means everything. It represents a piggyback ride to next level stardom and to true elite status in the lucrative welterweight division. 

The Matchup

Pacquiao is an off-putting mix of awkwardness, aggression, and otherworldly athleticism. From his extreme southpaw stance to his herky-jerky ring movements, he’s hard to figure out. Making the task of reading him even more impossible are his trademark bursts of offense that catch opponents off guard and create doubt in even the bravest, most self-confident of foes.

Still blessed with tremendous hand and foot speed at 42, Pacquiao has gotten better at conserving his energy and optimizing his output. This maturity has helped him remain an elite in the 147-pound class.

Ugas is a champion because they gave him my belt. Now, we have to settle it inside of the ring Eight-Division World Champion - Manny Pacquiao

Ugas, a product of the Cuban amateur system, came into the pro ranks already somewhat polished as a fighter. However, his skill level and confidence have seemed to increase with every recent ring appearance. 

Patient and poised, the 35-year-old is adept at controlling distance with a sharp jab sometimes delivered as a double jab. His jab-dominant ring approach belies his preference for a controlled pace. A counter-puncher at heart, his best weapon may be an overhand right, although his tenacious work to the body is an overlooked aspect of his game.

On defense, Ugas is all-around solid, with good intuition and effective head movement.

The Words

Manny Pacquiao

“Ugas is a champion because they gave him my belt. Now, we have to settle it inside of the ring. I cannot take him lightly, because he’s the kind of fighter who will take advantage of that. I would tell the fans not to miss this fight. This is going to be a really good one. I’m excited to see everyone in Las Vegas on August 21.”

Yordenis Ugas

“When I got the call that I was going to face one of the best fighters in history, it just pushed my excitement to new highs. I can’t wait to show everyone what I’m capable of. Fighting Manny Pacquiao...means the world to me. I’m not fighting for the money, I’m fighting for my legacy, and for my country. This is the most important fight of my life.”

The Breakdown

Ugas’ preference for dictating pace may be his downfall against Pacquiao’s chaotic-by-nature ring style. Controlling the perimeter with his jab and dictating pace will be absolutely crucial. If Pacquiao is allowed to dart in and dart out, engaging at will, Ugas won’t have much of a chance. 

While containing Manny’s explosive offense may be a tall order, there’s proof that doing so may be within Ugas’ abilities. In his bout with the hard-charging Shawn Porter, the Cuban was able to keep the offense-minded battler at a measured distance and even managed to score what appeared to be a knockdown (ruled a slip).

On the other side, Pacquiao just has to be Pacquiao. He has to pull Ugas out of his comfort zone and keep him reacting rather than plotting. If he can get off to an early lead, it’ll be exceedingly difficult for the cool-minded, patient, counter-punching Ugas to catch up. 

Having to switch his prep work for the southpaw Spence to the orthodox Ugas shouldn’t be too much of a factor. Manny has seen it all and done it all.

Pacquiao-Ugas has the potential to be a compelling and entertaining clash of styles. Ugas may be the underdog, but there is definitely a path to victory for him. 

This Saturday, will we witness one more conquest in the legendary career of Manny Pacquiao? Or will it be the beginning of Ugas’ own legendary run? The world awaits. 

For a closer look at Pacquiao vs Ugas, check out our fight night page. 

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