Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao was scheduled to fight rising superstar Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21, 2021, for Spence’s IBF and WBC welterweight titles. Due to a reported eye injury suffered in camp, Spence withdrew from the fight. The replacement is WBA “super” welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas.
He’s not a household name to the casual boxing fan, but he is one of the more respected fighters in the sport. Although this was not the fight we expected, it’s one that is of utmost importance to both fighters for different reasons.
Manny Pacquiao considers this to be a legacy fight for him
Manny Pacquiao is one of the most decorated boxers of all time. He’s a former eight-division world champion. The 42-year-old Philippines native has reached the tail end of his illustrious career and understandably wants to go out on top.
Pacquiao was removed from his title as WBA “super” welterweight champion in January because he hasn’t fought since 2019. The importance of this fight extends well beyond the titles and physical belts, though. In an interview with DAZN, he spoke about what it means to him.
It’s about my legacy and my name. It’s also of course, for my career and my country.Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao serves as a senator in his home country and fights with pride whenever he steps foot in the ring. That pride will not allow him to get past his opponent taking over his vacated title before squaring off with him first.
Yordenis Ugas wants to retire Pacquiao
Yordenis Ugas is confident in his boxing abilities. The pride of Cuba, he accepted this challenge with just 11 days’ notice and is ready for arguably the biggest fight of his career.
“I was surprised,” Ugas told ESPN. “I had emotion running through me, but I also knew I was prepared. This was meant for a reason.”
The magnitude of this fight cannot be overstated. Pacquiao has fought the best of the best in the sport and has beaten plenty of big names, including Keith Thurman, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Oscar de la Hoya.
If Ugas can pull off the upset against Pac-Man, it would be a major victory to add to his resume.
Keys to victory on fight night
The welterweight division is loaded with great fighters, and two of them will challenge each other on Aug. 21 with gold on the line. Although Pacquiao is the favorite, a path to victory exists for both fighters.
Manny Pacquiao is no longer in his prime, but the poise he’s exhibited throughout his career may allow him to control this fight. His footwork is superior to that of Ugas and could make up for any deficiencies he has at this stage of his career.
His inactivity could factor into the outcome, though. It’s been more than two years since his victory over Thurman. Will the legend be rusty?
The 35-year-old Ugas is seven years younger than his opponent. He’s not a power puncher, so a knockout is unlikely. Instead, he will need to apply pressure and not allow Pacquiao to establish a rhythm if he’s going to take him down. The contrasting styles could make for a great overall matchup.
Pacquiao vs. Spence was the fight we signed up for, but the alternative should not disappoint.